8 11 2011

Now before you get all uppity reading the header, don’t take it the wrong way. I LIKE the Modern Warfare franchise. I like the leveling up, I like the myriad of multiplayer modes, and the piles and piles of weapons and upgrades they throw at you. But to be quite truthful, this “MOST ANTICIPATED GAME OF THE CENTURY” title does for the first person shooter genre what Madden does for football.

Lets look at the pro’s: Solid game play, quick and rewarding level system, most of the time you will be matched with players of the same skill level (MOST of the time) and all in all this installment doesn’t, to me, let anything feel too over powered. They have taken the kill streaks and put them in to two separate categories so that no one player can have TOO much firepower. The perks have been reworked and altered slightly so you shouldn’t be seeing a “god-mode” set up any time real soon. One gripe I have though is the Support kill streak package, which allows a player to obtain extra perks instead of weapons for his or her kill streak rewards, and I think this alone will lead to many god mode combos and rage quits (a small few probably by yours truly). But over all the MW Team took a winning formula, played it safe and had another major success.

One new game mode is “Kill Confirmed” which is a team deathmatch variant which not only requires kills to win the game but promotes Non-Camper style gameplay in that it requires players to pick up gold dog tags dropped by their kills and “deny” kills by picking up red dog tags dropped by teammates. This mode is my particular favorite especially in hardcore mode, although I notice my teammates seem to be either nowhere to be found while I am being shot or looking the opposite direction until I’m dead. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

If you are looking for tried and true “if its not broke don’t fix it” game play, modes you know were good and are good again, I recommend Modern Warfare 3.  You can’t go wrong with a good thing.



Uncharted 3 Does Great Things with the Hand it’s Dealt

7 11 2011

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review

With two previous stellar titles Naughty Dog was tasked to finish yet another great Uncharted title.  Easily one of the more anticipated titles of the year, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception meets all expectations.  I’ll cut to the chase and admit right now this game scores an “A”, but it isn’t perfect.  It just does some things well, and a lot of things right.  The “Uncharted” series has always been known for great stories, strong action, and beautiful graphics.  So, combine the last two “Uncharted”s, then add improvements to everything, bake them at 350 and voila, Uncharted 3.

I really could have just began this review with, “my Fiance wants to actually watch me play Uncharted 3 and is bummed when she misses parts of the story”, so you know it has to be good.  That’s “Uncharted’s” strong point.  Beyond  the insane graphics, which I swear are the best I’ve seen in any game to date, the story continues to be interesting and never stagnant.  Who’s writing this stuff?  The main story is exciting, but the small interactions and side conversations between each character are both thought provoking and intriguing.  *SPOILERS* Chloe and Sully fist bump, Sully and Drake holding hands, and Drake saying “sorry” to Elana after lightly touching her wedding ring were so emotionally touching to me.  Those little things, such attention to the smallest detail is what makes Uncharted 3 such a great title.  It makes me feel the care and compassion that the Naughty Dog team puts into this series.

Let’s put stellar graphics and an amazing story aside, how are the games mechanics?  The mechanics are solid, “Uncharted” continues to pull you through each chapter by gently leading you in the right direction, and sends in a heavy dose of enemies to face throughout each one.  I found myself doing something more in Uncharted 3 than it’s predecessors, hand to hand combat.  For some strange reason the enemy AI in Uncharted 3 is either unintelligent, or crazy, because they all want to run up to you and box.  In many fire fights I was pulled out of cover to battle two goons who literally ran up to me for a punch in the face.  And the hand to hand combat isn’t “Uncharted’s” strong point, previously finishing the incredibly smooth combat system of Batman: Arkham City left “Uncharted” looking smooth, but feeling clunky and slow.  The stealth could use some work also, Drake is apparently bright and noisy because I couldn’t sneak past more than a few enemies at a time. It’s fine, just don’t expect to be Solid Snake.  All of those mechanics together work, I enjoyed using every weapon, and the combat although being clunky, still functioned properly with no hangups.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is an emotional thrill ride.  It’s the movie you wish they would make.  History, murder, narrow escapes, mystery, villains, and endless action make it very difficult to put the controller down.  Naughty Dog has created an incredible title that is emotionally genuine.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so deeply connected to any characters in any other game.  Seeing how Nathan and Sully began made their friendship even that much more special to me, and then Naughty Dog had to go tug at my heart strings with the relationship between Elena and Nathan.  I was always at the edge of my seat, and for that, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, I applaud you.

“Responsibility is doing great things with the hand you’re dealt.” –  Victor “Sully” Sullivan (I think that’s how it went)

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception scores an A.

Drunk Robots and Portal 2

8 10 2011

The Ghost Adventures drinking game was a huge success.  Ghosts have never been so entertaining.  But when Ghost Adventures came to an end, it was way to early to just stop drinking, so we picked up the PS3 controllers and started playing the new Portal 2 DLC “Peer Review”.  At our state of inebriation a continued drinking game for Portal 2 sounded like a good idea. 

Portal 2 Drinking Game

 –Anytime you shoot a portal, *drink*.  It’s that simple.

“Peer Review” was a free gift that just kept on giving.  Atlas and P-Body hugged and hi-fived their way through the 8 new stages, getting drunker and drunker with every wall plastered portal.  I honestly can’t remember the last two stages, they float vaguely in my memory like a ship in fog.  You’ve been warned, this game is addictive and may cause loss of consciousness.  Oh, and “Peer Review” is good too. 

Portal 2 “Peer Review” DLC scores an A+.

Pick “Peer Review” up for FREE on Steam, XBLA, and PSN.

Dead Island: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Very Ugly.

26 09 2011

Dead Island Review

Dead Island is a curious beast.  It was surrounded by hype after it’s unforgettable emotionally driven trailer.  It had such promise declaring an open world RPG zombie adventure and boasting four person co-op.  I was extremely skeptical, and after seeing gameplay videos was intrigued but never sold on the title.  But the recommendation from one of my good friends ultimately led me to purchasing Dead Island.  I will tell you early into this review I did not like this game, but…but, I am going to give Dead Island the benefit of the doubt because it is a very strong game in certain areas.

The Good

Dead Island feels like a mix of many different games, Fallout, Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Borderlands.  You can feel the heavy influences of these titles, it’s nothing that Dead Island should be ashamed of because it’s one of the games greatest strengths, making it feel familiar while still looking fresh at the same time.  When you pick one of the four character classes and enter into the zombie infested island of Banoi you immediately notice that this game looks beautiful.  The resort, though in shambles, still appears to be a gorgeous vacation get away.  It is truly an open world, spanning over more than four landscapes all dramatically different from the other.  Each class has 3 different skill trees to explore, Fury, Combat, and Survival making each play through feel different and gives each character special advantages  when playing co-op.  And that’s about where my “likes” for this game end.

The Bad

I’ve been waiting a week to vent about my frustrations with Dead Island, playing as much and as long as possible so I could beat the game and be over with it.  Dead Island  is flawed, to put it lightly.  Somewhere in this game there is a story, your four extremely cliche characters have some sort of goal besides get off the island, but as you guessed it, even with the terrible cutscenes I never really knew what the story was, and why I was running other peoples errands as quests.  Even reaching the end of the game I had no connection to any of the characters, so Techland killing them off meant nothing to me and left me disinterested in continuing with any of the other four main characters.  Did I mention there’s a nuclear bomb heading to Banoi?  Yeah I didn’t know that until the end cut scene either because the games lack of a solid story line.  Many games now have ventured away from “training” tutorials in favor of a more “real time prologue” tutorial, Dead Island has no tutorial…at all.  You wake up and have no instructions on how to do anything.  I had no idea until Chapter 10 that I could dodge left/right/and backwards, it was never told to me, I did it on accident.  And that’s the way the game is, sending you off to high school in hand me down clothes and asking you to get beat up by the school bully.  The classes and skill trees are very creative, but without any prior knowledge on how the game works your choosing skills blindly and hoping they improve your character.  And with no respec option,  I unfortunately chose Purna, an ex-police officer, who’s specialty is guns.  What the game doesn’t tell you is you don’t get any ammo until you reach the jungle in Chapter 6 or 7.  So that means I have all these skills that make me better with guns, yet I have no guns to use?  Purna also, like another zombie slayer by the name of Jill Valentine, is a master of unlocking.  She has the choice to put 3 skills into lockpicking letting you open numerous locked chests throughout each level and hope they have some rare weapon in them.  The lockpick skill is worthless, weapons from the chest are weak and a majority of the time they’re found empty…EMPTY!!!  Needless to say my character was essentially worthless throughout all of the city chapters, zombies would walk through every weapon I hit them with like I was whipping them with a branch.  I died often and spawned right near the 6 zombies that killed me, leaving me to die again.  And that’s only the bad…

The Ugly    

Dead Island is broken.  I don’t know what drives certain companies to release a game broken and hope that an early patch will fix all their problems.  And how did Techland even release a developer copy to Steam?  How does that happen?  That should have been the first warning that this game was not going to work the way it was supposed to.  Dead Island is filled with infuriating flaws, I’m not talking zombies who hit you through doors, occasionally falling through the ground, or empty chests.  Those I can deal with, I’m talking about game altering and character affecting glitches.  Because there isn’t a “save” option, you’re left to wander around until you see the auto save icon pop up, but most of the time that’s not a real save as I soon found out after many of my quests I completed were back in my quest log as unfinished the next time I hopped into my game.  I had to redo numerous quests because of this flaw.  Quests reappear magically while your favorite weapons disappear right in front of you.  Every time a weapon is thrown you’re taking a gamble.  You think your creating and upgrading a super weapon at a workstation, congratulations here’s your medium med kit.  These glitches happen, I can’t make this stuff up.  And I’m going to close The Ugly with one story that sunk this game into my hated pile.  I had just received a very high damage machete as a quest reward, I was slashing through zombies like a pro, and decided to throw a propane tank at a group of 6 unsuspecting zombies.  The glorious explosion that the tank emitted was apparently too epic for the game to handle.  The screen froze, and I stood there stunned as I could hear my body being ripped to shreds.  I quickly turned off the system with hopes of escaping the pandemonium unharmed.  That was not the case as I restarted my game $10k light and missing my bad ass machete.  An angel lost it’s wings that day.

All is not lost for Dead Island, the game is a shining example of  fun drop in/drop out cooperatively play.  In all reality, maybe Techland wanted there to be a lack of tutorials, or degrading worthless weapons.  Swarms of zombies will kill you, finding food is lifesaving, you need to know when to run and when to fight, and the more people you have the more likely you’ll survive.  I think Techland nailed the tension that is supposed to be felt in a zombie apocalypse, I just wish they could have given it to me in a cleaner less broken form.  For a game so strong in co-op play and begging to have unending replay value, Dead Island is stagnant and not exciting or interesting enough for me to continue through a second time.  I’m flying off the island, and staying off.

Dead Island scores a C.

Dirt 3 Review

17 06 2011

This review is going to be quick and dirty.  Hehe, puns.  But seriously, Dirt 3 is the 3rd installment of Codemasters’ thrilling Dirt series.  I’ve been a fan of this series since it’s Colin McRae Playstation days, so naturally I picked up Dirt 3 on day one (May 24, 2011).  Codemasters has done something great for the racing genre, managing to keep it exciting and fresh.  Dirt 3 brings back it’s extremely helpful  ”replay” feature, original race types: rally, trailblazer, rallycross, and landrush; also bringing back some of your favorite rally vehicles. 

All of the features Codemasters brought back, they manage to slip some new game types and vehicles in the mix also.  Rally cars range from current Pro vehicles to classic 60’s cars.  The banned Group B, one of my personal favorites, make a much anticipated appearance.  Trophy trucks are gone, replaced with their smaller stadium truck counterpart.  Play is broken into 3 parts, Dirt Tour, World Tour and Multiplayer.  Multiplayer still has its Pro Tour and Jam Session, but added a few game types:Cat and Mouse, Infection, and Capture the Flag.  Gymkhana is a new competitive play type where you get points for doing “tricks” such as donuts and drifting.

The racing in Dirt 3 is incredible.  Unlike Dirt 2, the cars feel “grounded” and heavy on the track.  Racing is quick and has multiple ways to customise your race style.  ABS, race line, HUD, stability control, damage, downforce, etc. are all customisable.  Driving in the cockpit with the HUD off at 90 mph into a corner, with your windshield wipers wiping away rain, all while listening to your navigators instructions is an experience that I can only describe as exhilarating.  The game is plenty long, and with multiplayer, the replay value is extremely high.  There are plenty of tracks to choose from all over the world.  The tracks are just beautiful, from dry deserts to snow covered mountains. 

But let’s talk about what I hate.  Gymkhana.  I am so mad this is in the game.  I admit Codemasters probably felt they needed something new, and I’m pretty sure Ken Block is in love with this.  But I dreaded every Gymkhana event, and there are a lot of them.  20 of the 50 achievements are gymkhana related (including DC challenges).  I don’t care about donuts, I don’t care about drifting, I don’t care about smashing shit, and I don’t care about jumping…ok so I like jumping.  I just want to race, and race fast.  And where are the trophy trucks?  Through the entire Dirt tour, there are only two Landrush events, letting you race the Landrush vehicles twice.  Sure they aren’t the greatest, but I would rather race than do gymkhana.  That is my only complaint about this game.

Dirt 3 is my top racing game of 2011 so far.  It begs to be played, and driving in the cockpit without the HUD just feels so rewarding.

Dirt 3 scores an A.

Metro 2033 Review

15 06 2011

This review is for everyone who missed this Xbox exclusive when it was released in  March of 2010,  I know I did.  I remember seeing some previews, reviews and some gameplay video’s, but what I can’t remember, is why I never picked Metro 2033 up.  Now a sequel has been announced, Metro: Last Light, and I want everyone who hasn’t played this game to at least try it before the sequel arrives hopefully in 2012. 

Here’s a little insight into the games plot.  It takes place in a post-apocalyptic Russia where the surface is covered in radioactive fallout and infested with mutated beasts.  People have taken to Russia’s metro tunnels for shelter and have created “cities” in some of the many metro stations.  You play as Artyom, who has to leave his station that is in danger, in search of help from an elite group known as Rangers.  Metro’s story is very strong, and you’ll find yourself easily immersed into this story.


First things first, I loved this game.  Metro is a unique experience, one that was a pleasent change from the other games I’m playing. Metro is a survival horror FPS, and it plays this part extremely well.  A lot of the metro is dark, damp and gritty, the only light is from lamps and torches half the time.  The sound in this game is amazing, if you have surround sound be prepared to be paranoid, the beasts growls and footsteps echo off walls and always seem to be running right behind you.  The weapons in Metro are basic with some small customisable features, such as scopes, silencers, laser sites, bayonets, etc.  Ammo is scarce, and is also used as currency, so planning what weapons you want to use, and ammo conservation are essential.  Your light source is from a flash light, and later in the game night vision goggles, both of which are powered by a hand pump “generator”.  When your light dims you pull out the generator and pump it back up to full strength.  Air on the surface, and sometimes in the metro is toxic, you wear your gas mask at these times.  The gas mask uses filters that you can buy, or find, and these filters need to be changed often depending on the total toxicity of the atmosphere.  These unique aspects of this game are what I enjoyed so much about it.  You fear running out of filters, you have anxiety about your gas mask breaking and not being able to find another one in time, and running out of shotgun ammo is always a bummer.  This is the way great survival horror games are supposed to be. 

But, this game did have some chinks in it’s armor.  The gameplay mechanics are not the greatest.  Guns don’t feel “real” when fired,  and seemed at times extremely inaccurate or unaffective.  The game in certain chapters want’s you to “sneak” through the shadows, showing how “hidden” you are by 3 lights on your watch.  I found sneaking very difficult and broken, with throwing knifes being inaffective and guards seeing you from a distance in the shadows when your watch says you’re hidden.  And lastly, it’s not my goal to get every achievement, but when you finish a game and there’s still 10 “secret” achievements, there’s something wrong in my opinion.  Achievements should be achievable, and I don’t want to go searching the interwebs for “secret” achievements.  I feel these are only minor inconveniences in what is a great overall game.

Metro 2033 is an example of developers doing something bold and imaginative with a new IP.  I would highly suggest any fan of survival horror, first person shooters, or post-apocalyptic sci-fi thrillers to pick up this game. 

Metro 2033 scores an A.