Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell PS3 Review

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WARNING: SPOILERS

In continuation of the over the top antics and storyline the Saints Row crew throw a Birthday party for the resident nerd, Kinzie Kensington. They find out she hasn’t ever had a birthday party before, people are only mildly surprised, and then they break out the cake, generic fun party stuff, and a spoof of a Ouija board. They start asking the board a bunch of questions and it somehow opens a portal to Hell. It sucks the President of the United States of America in and then immediately closes itself. Everyone gets pissed and Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington volunteer to go rescue him.

So right off they take the two worst characters of the series and make them the lead characters. Yes, Matt Miller might be a ugly looking dork who’s possibly closet gay and obsessed with a shitty TV series, but at least he has personality. Kinzie Kensington is the kind of nerd that most nerds ignore, because she’s for lack of a better vocabulary: one dimensional. While most people can talk about other things that aren’t their job and live a normal life, Kensington lacks that ability. Same goes for Johnny Gat. His major characteristic is talking about killing people, and then does some killing of the aforementioned people. Seeing how everyone in most of video gaming history has this ability I don’t see why that makes him so special.

Despite this crappy note I liked most of the story that was actually told. Sure it’s a little slap dash, but a lot of the humor is still there. It has a bit of a mundane feeling since its all more of the same kind of either story or gameplay but I at least liked the ambiance of Hell and all the details added to the world. One of the major things I didn’t care for is the feeling that they either left content out or just flat out stopped caring. One major things I always do in sandbox games is take over the town, when able. This is a feature in most of the series and you get a few good perks from shops because of this. In other games like GTA you can even buy houses in areas you’ve taken over. Anyway, when you hit 100% it transfers back to the storytelling version of cut scenes. It’s where one of the main characters opens a ugly children storybook with the Saints Row symbol on it. She then flips through the pages of the book and basically reads it to you with really elaborate art pieces. It goes on for about 30 minutes and gives a dozen or so things anyone could get hyped about. Now instead of letting you play out those things, which would have added lots of depth to your relationship with the members of Hell, tells you how everything happens, rather then you being apart of it. It tells you how a fight unfolds between your group vs. whoever and how they reside in hell now. It’s a complete cop out of game play and some possible good story missions.

The graphics are the standard and good enough for the gameplay. The only fancy elements were the constant drips or raining lava. There were the occasional glitches, but nothing serious. Once I had to restart the game because I was wall climbing and got stuck in the building. Its like I could walk around the interior of the building if it was made entirely of two way glass. Also the freezing glitch, that stopped the game completely, was remedied in this version. Although there were major sound issues. Many times when I’d snag one of the audio collectibles it would get about half way through what it was saying and then just cut out. Then it would be pure silence for the next few moments or you’d switch back to the aerial sounds of Hell and generic music. It also had trouble playing anything in the background while I grabbed one. A few times I’d have someone shotting at me or I’d be on fire and the audio would block everything out and just focus on the collected audio.

All of the previous power ups from SR4 are available in this game as well. You can still run up walls, throw ice/fire/darkness/whatever, send minions to do your bidding, and power stomp the ground. They only improved those marginally. The only addition they included was the ability to fly, but it’s kinda lacking since its more like gliding. They explain that Satan got it from somewhere and Blackbeard stole it, but I don’t remember much after that. Also the variety of weapons they included embody the 7 deadly sins. Most of them are either A) obnoxious or B) already in the game in some form. Like the Ark of the Covenant gun is suppose to represent Wrath. It sucks in enemies and shoots them out in a explosion. Cool, but the stomp power up already sucks enemies in, crushes them, and some explode. When ya think about it it’s not really too great add more collectibles that do the same thing. It makes neat combos, but again, useless when you’re super empowered and killing everything was rather easy.

The final fight with Satan was hideously disappointing. It basically consisted of him disappearing and reappearing in a certain time frame, or essentially a flashy version of peak-a-boo. Sure he hit you with everything he had, but if you’re anything like me, you’ve already gotten every special hidden power up or gun and the health bar becomes a joke. Sure this series is all about empowering, over empowering?, the player, but we’re fighting Satan for fucks sake!!! The master of darkness, the evil of all evil, etc. He could have been at least a little bit scary or intimidating. I mean Satan is cartoonie in other productions, but he still had a feel of intimidation in some way.

This ‘DLC’ was both disappointing and refreshingly strange. While it didn’t add anything new gameplay wise however the level(s) and artistic interpretation of hell was fun, funny, and really damn detailed. While I hate collectibles, the commentary was funny at points and added some depth to the world. The rest of the story was just meh. The musical fairy tale style of story telling was disjointed. It often interrupted by actual cut scenes that felt a lot more serious then the many of the cut scenes. Yeah all the fun parts are there: the running, the shooting, the huge explosions, but it really really feels like one of their writers just said “FUCK IT!” and stopped writing , or caring, at some point about telling more of the story. So it really does feel weirdly incomplete.

If you want something really abstract, even for this series, then try this out. Otherwise I’d be weary of it.

6.0/10

Bioshock Infinite: The Complete Edition PS3 Video Game Review

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WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS

You are Booker DeWitt a private investigator for hire. You’ve been sent to a city in the sky called Columbia that has succeeded from the United States of America and is run by a man named Zachary Hale Comstock. Somewhere in the city he’s holding a woman named Elizabeth. The mysterious client states that if you bring her back, he’ll wipe away all of your gambling debt.

I originally didn’t want to review this game because it has been done to death. Everyone who hasn’t lived under a rock, or granite like substance, has noticed this game and give it perfect score. I liked the first one and is probably one of the better FPSs of its time. The originals story stood out as being completely depressing and at that time it was different because it didn’t make you a completely infallible person. Also its gripping seeing as you’re trapped between two douches fighting for a city in total chaos and all you’re trying to do is figure out why you’re there and how to freaking get out alive. The continued mystery and noir themes would build tension throughout the game without making it feel suffocating.

This takes the same premise as the first one. You’re some average bloke who can’t remember anything and goes to a mysterious place to look for answers. Sound familiar!? Good, because there are very few changes. They have their wacky characters that are entertaining, possibly incestual, but most either not explored enough or you end up killing them. This, like the previous one, has a lot of gray characters instead of being absolute good or bad, like most FPSs. This one takes a bit of a chipper tone since its colored as a racist southern version of Disneyland. It was neat to walk amongst the city, and it’s citizens, before everything was thrown into pure anarchy mostly due to their own stupidity.

The beginning was good. It took the ‘damsel in distress’ story and warped it to make her more then just a powerless girl. In fact it alluded that she might be some kind of God-like creature. Anyway, it blunders about and introduces allies and villains in awkward ways. Like I had to look for a power up in one location that was ruled over by a local gang. The only option was to go in and kill them all. So the only purpose for them to be in the story was to guard that single power up. I thought this was a bit of a waste since they were a kinda gray group (morality wise) who only wanted to be recognized for their deeds. So much more could have been developed with them and instead they were killed off really early. Then one group was introduced, they steal your stuff, and then try to kill you later despite helping them out. This irritated me because they knew you had a time traveling girl on your side. It shouldn’t surprise them if you ‘come back from the dead.’ Also they seem to flip flop on agreements with little to no warning. It’s just stupid plot twists that had me rolling my eyes a lot.

I really don’t like that I have to give this game a low score because everything was going swimmingly up until the games ending. The ending really ruined it for me. It reminded me of several 1970s sci-fi films where the good guy is somehow a alternate time version of the bad guy. In this case DeWitt if he seeks forgiveness in one reality he becomes a racist stereotype of the south and builds Columbia. If he doesn’t, in some alternate universe, he does fuck all till he gets a invitation from someone to go find Elizabeth. So in other words he becomes the villain in one universe and in the other he’s a completely depressed alcoholic in another. I don’t have any problem with the second outcome. However our wondrous dumbfuck Elizabeth does.

So as the ending roles it’s kinda open to interpretation so I can only tell you what I got from it. She basically explains that’s shes a time traveling omnipotent God like entity who can see different universes, times, and can see how everything happens. She basically leads DeWitt in believing everything happens the exact same way, in every universe, and he has no choice but to do the same stuff over and over again. This is bullshit if you’ve read anything about time travel EVER! She says everything repeats itself until he figures out what needs to be done. Eventually it strikes him that in order to prevent all the future tragedies he needs to kill Comstock at birth. So he asks her to help him kill the guy. She brings him back to some open void in time and lets him know he’s Comstock and DeWitt and in order to destroy a possible bad future she has to kill him.

I thought this ending was total and utter crap. If she wanted to prevent a ‘bad future,’ for other people, that meant she would eventually have to kill everyone else too to stop them from possibly becoming corrupt power hungry maniacs. Also if she is some kind of time traveling entity then she could have easily manipulated any instance in time to her, or societies, advantage. NOPE! Instead she, and her very narrow perspective on it all, choses to jump through time and universes to kill this same guy over and over again, regardless if he turns out to be a good guy or not. This is pretty much is what’s theorized at the end when multiple versions of herself show up. Instead of going through time, or other universes, and fixing things she has a fetish for killing this one guy over and over again.

On top of that it’s the most drawn out and pretentious thing imaginable. Instead of doing the simple thing and putting a bullet in his head and moving on, tear a spot in time and turning his brain into pudding, or letting him get killed by someone in Columbia, but she doesn’t. She instead goes all out theatrical and drags everything out so long that it makes the player wonder if everything, even Columbia, was intentionally setup to trap this one guy. She has him relive everything in Columbia (all the fighting, clue finding, tragedy, etc.) and holds this long elaborate plot to show him how guilty he should feel. In turn this makes him feel bad and she opts to kill him. She’s a fucking sadist in my opinion. If you download the DLC Burial At Sea then you’ll see that she jumps into another dimension and goes out of her way to kill him all over again. So not only does she lack a moral compass, but she lacks common sense, is exceedingly lacking self control, but on top of all that she has no fucking clue what she’s doing.

The only good things about this game is the gameplay and graphics. The gameplay is just like the last and has a lot of features added to it. It’s taken the FPS format and added battlemage capabilities. This means you basically play as mixture of warrior and wizard style of combat. You have a gun in your right hand and use your left to cast spells. This adds some great combos and make some of the tougher battles a little more strategic.

There’s a lot of variety in both strategy and kill combos. Everything can be upgraded, except DeWitt and Elizabeth. The only addition that is noteworthy is the clothing. Some areas have clothes that can give you special abilities. It’s a nice perk, but unless it’s something outside normal gameplay (like the shield) then most aren’t noticeable when being worn. Like one piece of clothing lets you run super fast after you lose 50% of your life for about 5 seconds. The only added ability that I didn’t care for was the shield. It seems to be gone after 2 hits most of the time and then health, ammo, and salts are nearly everywhere you turn so if they are going to try to make things so piss easy why bother with a shield at all, especially if it’s gone after a few hits? Also there is a hook rail system that you can jump on to run away from enemies. I found this obnoxious because it made it difficult to aim at anyone and other then some linear story progression it’s mostly useless.

Another bonus is Elizabeth acts as a companion that actually does something, other then die or get in the way. In combat she’ll throw you health, ammo, and salts to help keep you alive. The odd thing is that th AI completely ignores her. There were many times when she was crouched down behind a crate and the enemies went around her side to get to me. I thought that it was strange that there wasn’t any interaction her since the whole town was seeking me out to A) kill me and B) return the girl to her tower. Even if I did die in a heated battle she’d somehow drag me to the side and revive me, for a price. Again, she either did this ‘unnoticed’ or the enemies ignored her.

The graphics are probably a example of the best the PS3 can offer. The bloom is proportioned nicely throughout the game, it gives characters shadows on their face, and adjusts as characters walk. The animations break some of the immersion because they really aren’t expressive outside of cut scenes and give some dramatic dialog a jejune delivery. There were rarely any hangups while rendering the game. The few that did seem to glitch were light rendering errors. Other times it would seem to want to freeze the screen and load for no apparent reason. For example: it would take only a short time to load the game and then when you moved to another area on the same map it sometimes would popup saying it was loading, but not show the stagnate loading screen. Other then that they did a great job making the characters both look kinda cartoonie and lifelike.

This is probably the worst of the series to me. It takes old sci-fi stories from the 1970s and beats it like a dead horse till you see it’s bones. The cliché contrived betrayals happen, the good guy is secretly the bad guy or the other way around, blatant bad guy stereotypes are used a lot, and then it has you reflect on the previous two Bioshock games. Sure it’s fun, fast paced, and has a lot of the game play elements, and more, of the previous two for everyone to enjoy, but I hate this story.

If you want something that has good gameplay then buy this, just try your best to ignore the story.

3.0/10

 

Farcry 3 PS3 Videogame Review

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WARNING: SPOILERS, SARCASM & WRY

A potential Girls Gone Wild video shoot gets captured by a group of pirates. The main characters wake up in the middle of a slaver camp and try to escape. Two of the college bros manages to escape, uh, kinda. Later he meets up with the local resistance on the island that tries to end the drug/slavery cartel. He learns of their heritage and they recruit him. They then send him on a series of missions to make him into a warrior, and to get really stoned. OK that’ll make sense once you play the game. Along the way he helps the people of the island with various problems, explores the island, hunts a lot of animals and people.

The story works out like any standard action movie. Jason Brody, is a average US American kid that somehow becomes a super killing machine by the end. He delivers standard “I’ll lead you underdogs to victory” speeches and belts out cliches lines like the script writers hadn’t seen a action movie ever! He’s probably the most uninteresting main hero I’ve see in YEARS. Anyway he seems compelled to go out and save his friends from the slavers who boarder between irritating, broken, or just not all that interesting. Don’t get me wrong his stoner friend (Oliver) is funny and adds a weird relaxing morose feeling, like the only reason he’s happy is because he found natural hallucinogens on the island, but he isn’t too terribly useful. Daisy is probably the only useful one, but seems to gain abilities out of fucking NO WHERE. So his job to save the island runs into hiccups due to the very well laid out bad guys and their very vicious and strange way of doing things.

Like Vaas is one of the more interesting villains I’ve seen in years, even if he lacked some development. He seemed to know your every move and attempt to save your friends. This was the neat part, because it seemed this villain broke the 4 th wall, read the script for the game, and said to himself “I won’t let him fucking do that.” So the entire time it I was trying to fight, or find, him was a giant mockery of every action movie ever made. He knew you were coming for him. So he set up a trap. He knew you might survive something. So he set up another trap. He, despite all his cocaine use, was scarily weird and vivid to the point where if I had to pit him against another villain in video game history it would be Trevor Phillips from GTA V. He’s mostly known for being a serial killer and cannibal and openly mocked anyone who questioned the ‘edginess’ in modern video gaming. But that might be a bad idea since they are so insane they might go into business with one another, or go into one another considering there are a lot of homosexual themes in the game.

That brings us to Willis “Buck” Huntley. Another villain I’m taking time to mention because it’s rare you see this kind. First off Buck is hella smart. He seems to be a redneck Australian version of Indianna Jones. I thought it was interesting because you don’t really see anyone Australian in anything, much less being smart. If they are they’re a 100% stereotype that we’ve all learned from a Crocodile Dundee movie and drinking lethal doses of beer. Secondly he seems to be a implied rapist. This I thought was well done, since most mediums now-a-days seem to shove whatever negative trait a villain has in your face. This is only IMPLIED and it he may have very well just been a shithead to someone rather then a rapist.

Sam Becker, again another interesting ‘villain’, falls under something different I notice. He’s a German-American who not only isn’t blood thirsty, but he wants all of the madness on the island to end. Sure betrayal isn’t anything new in any story EVER, but the fact that it breaks so many stereotypes it isn’t even funny. Most times you see a German in a game he/she’s perpetually stuck in the 1940s swearing allegiance to Hitler or wanting to kill everyone. This guy seems a little more put together realizing that killing is only a means to a end and once Hoyt (the main slaver and antagonist of the game) is gone everything has the possibility of being hunky dory on the island and he’s totally OK with that. Really. He doesn’t want to take over Hoyts business after hes dead. He doesn’t want to go killing anymore. It genuinely he seemed like he just wanted to sit down and drink with the locals, and hopefully not be strung up by them. So in all honesty he had the possibility of being the vile stereotype of either nationality he belongs to and they wrote him like somesort of Kelly’s Heroes hippy. This was weirdly refreshing.

One of the major things I hated about the story is the ‘love story’ subplot. I don’t know if you can call it a subplot considering it mostly consists of one lady (Liza, because apparently you can’t fucking spell Lisa and not attract the main demographic for this game) bitching about how Jason isn’t giving her enough time, or something, and doesn’t want him to get hurt. Its suggested that they were together before they decided to announce to a island full of blood thirsty pirates that they were young dumb, stupid, and full of money, coincidentally. Then after some time she says some crap like she’s finally seeing the man she wanted or he was meant to be.

I think this is ironic that A) she’s playing a stereotypical angst ridden woman (ie damsel in distress) who seems to think it’s a good time to ask someone who’s training to be a murder God to reevaluate their relationship whilst a civil war is happening on the island and their friends are in danger of being sold off as sex slaves. I found myself screaming at the TV, like some Jerry Springer fan, a few times telling her to SHUT THE FUCK UP. Not to say she’s completely selfish, but complaining about their relationship is the only thing I can remember that she did the entire game. Also B) it seems she to only gained interested in him after he saved a few people, killed a dozen bad guys/animals, and woke up out of a drug fueled dream with a dozen or so tattoos on his arm. This doesn’t give a good impression of what women want to the young people who might be playing the videogame. Seriously we don’t need any sailors going on drunk fulled murder and tattoo rampages and then expecting people to fall madly in love with them.

The gameplay is a vast improvement over the first Farcry videogame that I played. I ran into, at first, what I thought was glitches. It seemed every enemy could sniper you with any weapon through any wall, tree, house, or mountain from any distance. This annoyed the fuck out of me and I gave up on the game. It was one thing to be able to see someone and they’d be in visual distance and then they’d attack. But with my experiences, and the original, you could be in a shack with no windows and if you briefly fart or gasp for air and the guy on top of a mountain three mountains over would hear it and somehow be able to blow your head off. This was freaking unrealistic. I don’t know about you but most peoples eye sight is limited to 100 yards or so and can’t get shot upwards of 100 times. They shouldn’t have the abilities of Superman! Also, for the record, it was a legit copy for the PC.

This one has far more balance then that. If you can see them through a sniper scope, they can see you. If you shot them more then 5 times, with certain kinds of guns/distances/etc., they die. Simple enough, right? Well, ya, it’s just that simple. However, unlike most games where you can run through a base kill a few people either run off or kill everyone there effortlessly, the AI has a few smarter things going for it. Like once you make your presence known, anywhere, they continually search for you. If you run away, they’ll still be on the look out. A few times I’ve had to fast travel to a different location and come back in an actual REAL TIME hour or so so they’d stop looking for me. One time, when I first started, I ran into a heavily armed base and got destroyed because they called for back up, multiple times. So I had to build my own strategy on how to take out the base and that made this aspect of the game rather fun.

The only thing I get infuriated with is the stupid AI. Sometimes the drunk Molotov cocktail throwers would set themselves on fire, often. Other times when I would try to take over a base and a random lion or bear would wonder in the base whipping out EVERYONE there. Those damned animals shits even did that to bases I had conquered. Anyway these baddies are suppose to be trained militia. Like a guerrilla version of the Roman Legion but with better weapons. Why they seemingly ignore a large growl, followed by a terrible screaming sound, and then sudden silence and not decide to hit the alarm or have all forces focus in and kill the thing is beyond me. Also other times they’d literally WALK PAST the leopard or whatever that was attacking the base and it would then kill them.

Sometimes it seems like they were highly organized and you pretty much prayed to make it out alive or hope they didn’t hit the alarm, which seemed random, to signal for backup. Other times they’d do all of the above and get attacked by local wild life or the local resistance that just happened to drive by at the time you decided to attack the base. It’s entertaining, but frustrating because I wanted to play the game, not have AI play the game for me. It did add some immersion to the game, considering I can see this happening in a war torn country, but it often ruined my strategy on how to infiltrate the base. Also the local resistance didn’t help with the other 90% of the game, so why show up now?

This has some RPG elements that are almost not worth mentioning. The game, as said, depends on how you fight, the guns you use, and how well you fight in tight situations. With that being said, you can gain skill points for abilities after doing whatever to get xp, but the abilities don’t open up until you complete various parts of the main story. So I went out and annihilated half of the islands baddies, and took their bases, with nearly none of these power ups that that they wave at you in the beginning of the game. So I didn’t get the point of leveling up when you can’t use the points when needed or when the perks aren’t that useful.

Yes, you can do cool things like jump on top of someone and stab them to death, but if you’re like me you’ll shoot them with a silencer, or a bow, from a distance. Now this DOESN’T make any sound and it DOESN’T draw the attention of everyone when the guy screams for his life as you stab him to death. So why should I buy these abilities when everything else is already at my disposal? Aside from the few that help the character swim sharks or shoot better, there isn’t a point to many of them. On top of that, and as said before, you can use these ability but they’ll attract attention to you, very quickly. Now since it seems that they only decide to organize themselves to find you after finding you, then you can wind up dead very fast with said power ups. So having power ups that encourage you to go Rambo in a game that PUNISHES the living shit out of your for being a loud turd isn’t too terribly productive or practical.

Also the crafting system is a bit stupid. It requires you to get animal hide for special ammo upgrades, or it helps you carry more guns. Sure that’s fine, but it required the hides of seemingly random animals that shouldn’t exist on the island at all. Its like they asked a 5 th grader what animals he liked and then said “fuck it” and lumped them all on a island. It, like most tropical islands, are either hot or wet. If you listen to the local islanders in the game they complain about the weather A LOT. So why the hell would this island have a North American Grizzly bear on it and a few miles south packs of Dingos. The Grizzly would die from heat stroke due to the huge amount of fur it has and how it’s body naturally insulates heat. Dingos on the other hand live in EXTREMELY hot weather. So anything below 90 degrees or so could kill them since their bodies are made to resist HEAT and not cold. If you look at the map they’re technically already in areas where they should be dead. This also hurts the realism of the game and the whole immersion thing. Some the upgrades requires hides of super rare animals. Wouldn’t PETA be super pissed you were going off killed rare animals for your selfish upgrades? Sorry, Winne the Poo I need your hide so I can carry a extra gun. Also these super rare animals have no difficulty to them what-so-ever. They are essentially the same damn animal, but slightly reskined. If they’re that special why not make them harder or smarter? Other wise it’s just cheap.

The graphics show a good bit of what the PS3 can offer. The cut scenes are damn near movie quality. The facial structure and movement on most of the characters is life like. On top of that the water effects when swimming or sailing are interesting since it all seems to bump and sway like a real ship. Also the lighting and fire really help with the immersion of the game. Many times at night I saw light in the distance and it gave that same ugly glare that lights do in real life when trying to focus on something. This helped make it all that much more realistic when trying to take over a base and being half blinded by the lamp lights that are surrounding the base.

The only thing I can complain about is the rain effects. They are neat, but not fully developed. Nothing really seems to get wet. Also you can look at the houses and plants and not see anything drip off of them. It’s just weird. Besides that the only major glitches were random scenery glitches from time to time. I’ll be walking somewhere and there’ll be a thin discolored line that runs across the screen. So I’ll back up and it’ll disappear. Then there are some areas on the map where your character starts a swimming motion, makes a splash sound, and the water either A) failed to render or B) he’s randomly doing that on some hillside for no reason. Regardless just move some and the glitches go away completely.

The story is aching of a cliché action movie, but the real reason to play it is due to the vast colorful characters, both good and bad guys. The graphics are at their peak with little to no glitches. The game play is great, but gets repetitive due to the similar quests and wonky structure. All in all this is a worth while action game, despite it being considerably over hyped and my griping. If you can find it for cheap, or the new Farcry compilation, then I’d recommend buying it. It’s a quality FPS game.

7.5/10

Heavy Rain Video Game Review PS3

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WARNING: Spoilers that spoil things….you know

This game follows the story of multiple people who are involved with a serial killer, known as the Origami Killer. The killer seeks out fathers whom he feels are unfit parents and then and kidnaps the son. He puts the father through a series of severely difficult tests to in order to gain his son back. If the man fails for whatever reason, the boy dies. As the story slowly develops it shows how it slowly breaks people down emotionally and tests even the strongest relationships. The drastically depressing part is that you can absolutely control if they succeed or fail.

This is one hell of a experience in story telling. There has only been two other game that came out recently, Beyond: Two Souls and Telltale’s The Walking Dead, that has hit me this hard and has encouraged me to say this once again:

This is one of my favorite games of all time.

With that being said there’s very very little wrong with this game besides the occasional visual glitch or small cliche. Every piece of the story telling is intricate and well laid out. Every character, even side characters, have enough space to develop fully. It took time to explain nearly every bump and bruise in their life and why whatever character had whatever idiosyncrasy they were struggling with. By the end it’ll make you feel like you almost know each character personally.

The beauty behind the games story is that it has so many endings. It will keep you guessing the whole time, because every piece of detail determines the outcomes of various people in the game. It can get frustrating due to the amount of things that need attention, but it makes the immersive feeling that much more present. It’s like you’re some kind of demented puppet master and you’re pulling all their strings. Also it’s shocking how this one guy can con so many people into helping him do terrible things. I don’t think the killer is a psychopath, but he’s some kind of evil. He’s just a supped up douche who exacts revenge on something no one could have possibly been able to control. You also have the option of beating the shit out of him later in the game which is really satisfying.

The graphics are top notch and damn stunning. You can see individual droplets of water run down peoples face. You can see someone get gradually wet in the rain and then dry and still look damp. The lighting is always beautiful and sets the mood perfectly. There is the occasional motion glitchs, but they’re too hilarious to ignore. I don’t mind them since it brings some light to a really depressing videogame. Also this is a game that runs near perfect on the PS3, which made me wonder what the guys who made Fallout New Vegas was thinking.

The gameplay is pretty much hated by a good half of the people who play this game. I don’t mind it. It’s mostly quick-time events that are meshed with either quick problems solving or a kind of pick and choose motion. One notable event like this was where the main detective, named Norman Jayden, almost has his ass handed to him while looking into a murder cover up. A guy who’s trying to cover up the murder instigates a fight and the real time puzzles follow suit. There are puzzles that require some problem solving, but usually require things within grasp and basic logic.

If you fail you can either continue or start over anywhere in the story. Its kinda fun to start over after seeing how much detail they put into each scene, even the UGLY death scenes. I love this forgiving nature, but at the same time it proves NO challenge half the time. In most adventure game you carry a dozen items. Unfortunately you can either lose a item or never pick it up in the previous scene, thus screwing up future events. However it has a impact on the story so you can often continue without them, but you might not get the results you wan in turn. This is one of the things I was thankful for since you virtually can’t screw it up like that. Sure you can kill main characters but it still influences the outcome rather just giving you a “game over” screen. Then the game usually gives you a achievement for whatever. I honestly don’t understand the system. It seems if you can do anything and you can get a achievement.

On top of that it’s a lot of talking with multiple choices. Each character has a different reaction and give the characters their interacting with a real-ish feel when dealing with them. Sam Douglas did a great voice over for the main antagonist. His sleepy performance pretty much vocalized how that character really just wasn’t there. Pascal Langdale gave a really good performance as a Dad who would probably be clinically depressed after all this drama. He only had two lines that I thought sounded strange. Yes, one was where he was yelling for his son Jason. Judi Beecher was really really good. She’s probably one of the best female voice actors I’ve heard so far. It sounded genuine and I don’t remember listening to any of it and thinking how it sounded horrible or nothing like the character. This usually happens when a voice artist is stuck in a booth for 10 hours a day and yelling, screaming, crying, or whatever and then their voice doesn’t have time to recover. This happens a lot in the industry, unfortunately due to time constraints or untrained people decided to be voice actors. Leon Ockenden and Aurélie Bancilhon are the only two I had a real problem with. Ockenden sounded like he had trouble pulling off a American accent sometimes. It showed in some of the police department scenes. Bancilhon seemed a little canned or inexperienced. It wasn’t too noticeable until it came to the really dramatic scenes, like when her character was crying at someones tombstone. The emotion felt hampered. Other then that everyone did rather well.

This is one of the games that I consider near perfect. You are in complete command of all characters and its up to you to determine the ending of the story. Also since it has 20 or so endings many will be playing this for at least a few years. The graphics are near perfect. The story, although dark, is so well crafted that it breaths life into the old Noir genera and relies off nearly no cliches in order to tell the story. Everything packaged together is a really strong emotional trip into the terror of a child killer.

Quantic Dream please make more games.

9.5/10

Fallout New Vegas PS3 Video Game Review

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You’re some loaner out in the middle of nowhere in the ruins of Las Vegas, Nevada. You’ve been assigned to take a parcel to some address for unknown reasons. Along the way you get mugged by a sharp looking guy and a group of thugs. They steal your package and leave you for dead in some cemetery. You eventually come to and a doctor makes you aware that the town robot has dug you out of your unmarked grave and you’ve been patched up. Kinda.

As with all Fallout games you expect a great experience and the story is just that. It blends scifi, 50s technology and vibe, and does it all beautifully. The stories involved are very vivid and damn near completely compelling. Yeah it has some cliches and genera stereotypes, but for the most part it’s well written. The characters, and voice actors, do a great job making you care about them and their well being, even more ruthless ones like the Great Khans. The stories that intertwine help bring some depth to the peoples and their struggle. Also, many times, it pretty much displays no one as a true hero and shows everyone makes mistakes. The better thing about this game is the options. You can chose between factions and it has a impact on how they treat you. The guns can be upgraded to be lighter, more durable, etc. It gives you a great deal of more options when choosing how your character survives the wasteland.

The voice acting is the usual top quality stuff. You get a greedy and damaged character from Matthew Perry. Voice acting legend Jason Marsden comes back as a hard boiled and emotionally damaged sniper. Unlike his first role in Fallout 2 as a chem making asshole. All are quality performances, except the bit characters dialogue. Some seem hackney or hastily slapped together at the last minute. I doubt its the actual voice actors problem, but…well…I’ll give you a example. You’re talking to a MALE Brotherhood of Steel paladin and when you say Goodbye a female voice says Goodbye and the lips of the Paladin move. So either the character had a spontaneous sex change and his estrogen shot to ungodly levels or the coders screwed it up. Another irritating time is when I’m talking to ED-E, a robot companion in the game. A message comes over his speakers from the Brotherhood of Steel asking you to bring them the robot so they can analyze it. On the very last sentence it switches from a American accent to a very thick Middle Easter, or Indian, accent. WHAT THE HELL? It does this multiple times and is just completely weird.

I’m just warning you ahead of time that this is why I’m completely failing the game. The GRAPHICS and game itself isn’t terrible. The whole of it is just incredibly unstable! Its like they made the game to troll the crap out of the player. I have had to restart the PS3 multiple times due to it freezing or getting so slow that minutes will pass before anything happens. Like if I hit the left joystick telling my character to walk left it’ll sit there for a while, then it decides to walk left 5+ minutes after that. Many times when it tries to load a new area it goes to a slow crawl and either freezes or is so jittery it becomes to difficult to do anything. Other times characters, usually IMPORTANT ONES, will have various monsters spawn near them in the secluded and SAFE town that they live in and get killed. This usually happens AGES before you get to the quest that requires them. Also it seems to happen AT RANDOM. So very important, quest required, NCPs will be DEAD when you need them the most and for no logical reason. Other times if you have a companion they will lose important items you bought for them. Or if you go into a casino they’ll be stripped of them and you won’t get them back later. The list really goes on and on. Due to all these glitches and more it completely ruins the immersion feeling this series is known for. Instead of having quality face to face with the characters it’s all a jittery crash filled experience and quickly reminds me that I should have bought a better PC to play this.

The thing that frustrates me the most about this whole experience is that I have other games I need to get to, play, and review. I have other games fixed/patched/whatever, without GAME STOPPING GLITCHES, that run fine on the same game system. So if I ever get a new computer I won’t force myself to play this game again, seeing as it would probably be the same experience. So because they can’t seem to fix glitches, fix simple quest glitches, and stop NCPs items from randomly disappearing I’ve don’t have a choice but to give up on this game. When I play a game I want the whole story and for it to function correctly. This really isn’t the case.

Quality assurance should be a top priority of any games developer. Those who haven’t made it a priority have went bankrupt. After so many hours into this game and learning more of it’s lush lore and intriguing story line: it’s very apparent they just gave up at one point on the graphics, and how to load them. I am infuriated that such a great story was thrown to the way side because people don’t want to patch their damn game! This has been a totally upsetting experience because I love this series and this is the only one I’ve had so much trouble with. The crashing ruins the game for me because if it wasn’t for that factor alone I would be giving this game a 8.5/10. However, I just can’t.

3.5/10

Gone Home PC Game Review

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Warning: Mild Spoilers

Gone Home is about a story of a sister two sisters. Samantha is stuck at home while her sister, Katie, is off traveling the world. So she writes down her every thought to share with her sister when she gets back. However when Kate arrives home the house is empty. There’s note on the front door stating that Sam left for some unknown reason.

This is a touching story. It purely represents how people can’t ever really go home again and expect life to be the exact same as when they left. It slowly, but bluntly, tells you how time changes everything and pushes people forward, or even away from each other. The game is every blatant about this with the many clues it leaves around. However it is the very definition of first world problems and is slightly riddled with stereotypical teen angst groaning you’d find in any American’s 1980s teen movies, but without any actual reason for conflict.

At first I was intrigued because it gives a somewhat approving approach to letting me be a completely voyeur into someone’s family. As I wondered around I would get to read into each persons life and their problems. This ability only poked at my curiosity to go further. Even the storm outside the house made the dark hallways seem somber rather then creepy. With a few steps here and there it opens up other parts of the house and even shows you secret entrances and old remnants of the previous owner of the house. This was only intriguing to only a limited extent.

Then there are other parts of the story that are just completely bland. There’s multiple clues lying around that would have suggested a troubled marriage or the parents having trouble dealing with their more rebellious daughter. However I found myself not caring, because I would only be able to find 1 or 2 notes on what one parent thought about the situation. The other parent (most of the time this was the father) would be completely left out by the fact that there wouldn’t be anything of his to read or analyze.

Other times the clues were handwritten notes that were completely illegible. Want to find out about the house and why it’s nicknamed? Well guess what? You probably won’t be able to read what happened since it looks like a small gerbil had a seizure while holding a pen on one of the only notes from the owner. This only left me frustrated and I ended up not caring at all about what happened. So this made it feel like half of the story was incomplete.

This was followed by the continued girl-to-woman story of Sam. While this was cute and heart warming to reading about a girl finding herself, it left me wondering if I should have just read a book instead. Whatever item you pick up plays a diary page of Sam’s and it belts out over the soft music in the background and the occasional thunder. None of it was too interesting, and as said before: it is riddled with clichés. The 90’s punk and girl grunge references even come off as cliché due to the same standard writing all over the posters of ‘fighting the man’ and what not. It’s like they rebel against a establishment without any clear reason to do so.

It lacks basic game play mechanics and good exploring rewards. Like with most games it might have clues as to what to do next that are clear and help continue the story. Yes, this was partly my fault, but after having such limited interaction with items I started looking less and less for items to fiddle with. It doesn’t interest me to pick up a 3d plate, or 3d tooth brush, and spin it around. The 3d books serve little to no purpose, except for one. Then the story items are so blatantly obvious they aren’t misable or they look so generic that I didn’t bother picking it up considering it was only the 900 th random piece of paper strung about in the house.

In the end Gone Home is another video game experiment that doesn’t feel complete. Many gamers, including myself, will be greatly disappointed with this. This is due to the lack of just about everything that makes video games playable. Yes it’s filled with every artistic metaphors and emotional impact that would be in most video games. Although for me the story was lost due to the stereotypical storyline of the subject matter, plot holes, and illegible clues. If it went on for a few more hours and explained everyone else’s view point I would have probably enjoyed it a lot more.

Either skip this or get it on the cheap (i.e. below $10). It’s only 2 hours worth of gameplay and has ZERO replay value.

5.0/10

Beyond: Two Souls Video Game Review PS3

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Format: Playstation 3 exclusive

WARNING: Mild Spoilers!!

Quantic Dream is the company who brought you Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy. Recently they released Beyond: Two Souls, which is a deep spiritual journey that spans the life of a young girl named Jodie Holmes. She has another soul linked to her for unknown reasons. Aiden, the soul, has various supernatural powers you can control. Due to this ability, and other elements in the game, you can make various moral choices that help change some of the endings of the game and various paths throughout the game. Each choice makes you think about the options before and after and usually allowed adequate time for anyone to think about them. Also depending on the choices you make the characters voice their opinion due to your interactions with them or choices you’ve made.

This is one of my new favorite stories of all time. I’ll repeat: This is one of my new favorite stories of all time. I know it can’t rank up there with Rear Window, or the newer stuff like The Dark Knight, due to its flaws but it comes really damn close. Yes it’s the typical reluctant hero kinda field that has seen a rise in the recent comic book movies, but a much of the way they handle it and let you choose the characters actions is unique. You can control most everything she does from being a good kid when she’s younger to cold bitch when she’s a adult. Aiden can aid, or hinder, all her actions along the way. You can have him/her kill people, rig ATMs, posses people, and even defend Jodie when she can’t. This is really fun due to the fact that he can’t die and the access to many of his abilities are usually all readily available. Yes the game tends to limit you sometimes on what you do, but I think that tries to enforce the idea that Jodie does have some control over Aiden.

I found myself really empathized with the characters, even the douche ones, due to how well script is written. They really take the time to develop each character or bring them on long enough to see how they are emotionally attached to Jodie. It eventually gets easier to grasp when you play whatever level multiple times. You can also use Aiden to see what others think of you, or your actions, which only adds heaps more depth to the story. Although it is irritating when important dialogue is missed sometimes because I didn’t switch to Aiden and wonder off to a room where other character are located. It shines even in simpler tasks like trying to help Jodie become romantically involved with Ryan.

With that being said there’s a wide variety of moral choices you can make from helping the homeless to strangling childhood bullies. The amount of choices are insanely large and many of them, despite doing something completely evil, will warrant a achievement. Regardless of achievement incentives to do evil things I found myself playing the same levels multiple times just to see what else I could do or what I missed the first time. So it was like a moving piece of art that you have to keep looking at in order to notice all the details. With replaying multiple levels it was also fun to see how it changed the people around her by the end of the level.

Also Jodies reactions to it all also adds more emotional stability and sanity to the situation which helps considering how fantastically strange things turn sometimes. It even helped develop her into a strong female lead while not making her look like a complete bitch. This is something kinda rare in story telling, because most authors tend to make the female leads too masculine and they lose almost all femininity to them. This played a delicate balance between both while still giving you control over what you wanted her to do.

The story structure threw me in multiple directions without warning. At one point you could be navigating Jodie through a wrecked closed security site and the dead would get posses and try to murder Jodie. Then the next scene she experiences her first love with one of her hunky boy toys in the game. While the jumps were often jarring I’ve seen enough of this style of story telling (See Memento and Pump Fiction) that it didn’t bother me. However I don’t doubt many would enjoy the game because of how disjointed it feels sometimes. Although I don’t think I could have picked a better way to display the confusion of a terrifying journey like this without jumbling it. I’ll admit I liked the change of pace because some levels were rather relaxing compared to say the previous two where Jodie was almost killed or raped.

The thing that really heightens the mood is the graphics. They are simply stunning. There were a few scenes where you run through a burning house and you can see burning embers float past your face. The fire, and a lot of the water effects, are some of the best I’ve seen in gaming. Period. One scene where it’s raining you could see it run down Jodie’s face, drop by drop and her clothes would slowly get wetter as it rained down. Also I don’t think I ever saw any noticeable glitches, which is rare for any game.

Sometimes the interaction is limited due to the game play elements. There are many quick time events and there are many times it has the same limitations of a 1990s point and click adventure. Like there would be a interactive object that would only prompt Jodie to comment on it or the interaction was bland. Also instead of pointing and clicking you wobble the joy sticks in whatever awkward way the game instructs you too. This, sometimes, isn’t fun, but I played along with it to basically see what happened next.

The action sequences, while super fun to watch, really posed no challenge. You, as long as you’ve played some kind of game in your life, will be able to run, dodge, fight whatever police, CIA officer, African militia, etc. with great ease. Which made me wonder why they even bothered with a difficulty option. It asks your video game skills, at the very beginning of the game, and basically gives you a choice between normal mode and normal mode with hints. This just trivialized the whole option considering it didn’t change the difficulty at all. This was also disappointing considering their previous games had some level of difficulty. Like with Heavy Rain you had to concentrate more then most games on what you were doing or going to do next and the choices that you were prompted to choose from. Then Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy was notably hard in some areas which would impact the story negatively, and sometimes get main characters killed for the rest of the story. Seriously, many levels were just made of pure keyboard snapping frustration and Beyond: Two Souls was a walk in the park compared to this.

However, I really only consider this game to have only one completely terrible thing about it: the controls. The controls are muddled half the time or the camera angles screw up the direction you want to go. There were multiple times where I wanted Jodie to go through a door and she’d kinda rotate left to right and got stuck. I couldn’t zoom out half the time to see what her character was stuck on or doing. So I kinda had to wiggle out of it and walk off. Also there are some blatant dead ends that the camera doesn’t pan out to show you so I would wind up in a corner searching for a door or hidden items (which there are plenty of) in a worthless empty space and that just blatantly wastes time.

Other times there will be something tremendously bad happening and the controls just flat out wouldn’t work. Like, you know, the building your in is about to explode. So instead of running like a normal person, Jodie kinda just jogs around the building. Also during certain scenes like this the run button will be disable. No I’m not joking. The run button, that you use MULTIPLE times in other situations, will be completely useless. I don’t see the point of that. It doesn’t build suspense or help the story. It’s just stupid.

The emotional impact of the story, and multiple endings, only made me want more. It does leave it open for a sequel, but all sequels depend on funding and if the script is good enough. Despite all the negative aspects of this game it is still something that can be deeply enjoyed if you have the patience and don’t mind a different kind of gameplay. This is truly one of the best stories I’ve seen in a video games. It may not be your kind of game due to the artistic gameplay style, or jumbled style of story telling, but I’d say at least rent it or try the demo.

8.5/10

71/100 – Metacritic Critic Reviews

8.1/10 – Metacritic User Reviews

8.0/10 – IMDB

Dead Island: Riptide Review for the PS3

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Platform: Playstation 3

Some spoilers ahead.

After escaping from Banoi the group lands on a cargo ship full of military types. They immediately get locked up at gun point as being recognized at some of the few who are immune to the disease. Somehow some of the infected zombie population get released on the boat, while they are introducing themselves to the newest member of their group John Morgan, a ex-military Australian held captive for treason. So you, and your crew, crash land on Palanai. Literally. Most of the crew is dead and, somehow, the only survivors are the immune and a Australian military man named Colonel Hardy.

As for the story goes I think they could have done without this one. The original I thought was good enough since they do the classic “fly off into the sunset” and everything is assumed to be fine. In this story they add a mutagen to the zombie infection and it’s suppose to explain why there are new zombies. The new zombies are cool, however the whole mutagen side story is just bland. If they were going to get that extravagant they might as well have made a reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while they are at it. They didn’t ever explain what it was, or why it was there. It was hinted at that the infected started to mutated between Kuru and over exposure to chemical weapons, but this wasn’t fully explained. Then they kept going on about how the small immune group will eventually become more and more enraged as if it’s some kind of side effect, and yet again, didn’t explain things fully. I don’t see why they made a big deal of the two and didn’t give them proper closure. Now I’m sure it’s all explained in the collectibles, but I didn’t buy a PS3 to READ.

Yes, some of the collectibles are read aloud, but it’s difficult to listen to them when being attacked by really loud zombies. It should be noted that the voice actors did a beautiful job performing in this area. Anyway, the rest of the time the crew rarely develops character wise. If I walked by them they mostly say the same things over and over again. So not only do the original characters that were well developed, and gruff to their own extreme, get really tiresome to hear. I eventually begain to hate them because they didn’t really have a purpose to help advance the story. This is disappointing considering the original game only showed the other team members in CGI cut scenes to HELP do just that, and the dialogue was much more extensive. So it’s kinda bad that you get tired of so many cool character so fast.

The gameplay is the exact same as the last game. You comb the island completing quests, looking for collectibles, etc. This is fun and all, but gets repetitive. So in other words this is the exact same game as before. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if the story helped pull it along, which as stated above is meh. The upgrade system isn’t any different and the leveling system is the exact same. Yea sure there’s a leveling system for the different kinds of weapons, but it doesn’t feel like a complete idea and I just completely ignored it. The weapons leveling system didn’t seem to improve anything at all, or at least that I noticed. Also this doesn’t seem to matter consider some zombies, if they get behind you, can kill you in one hit. That is completely unrealistic and ruins a lot of the melee fighting.

The melee is just as before. You’ll need to a void certain zombies and learn strategies on how to deal with them. This is probably one of the best aspects of the game since it’s all first person. The leveling helps control the combat, as it gets considerably harder. It’s nice to see you can mutilate zombies, but there are only so many swinging animations and with some of them I kinda wondered how it didn’t get the character bitten by zombies. Despite that after figuring out how to fight, or when to run, it’s a really smooth system, unlike most FPSs. One of the best things is that it gives you a large variety of weapons and gives you enough options in order to get good weapons.

Like it has random dungeon like zones called ‘dead zones.’ Many of them have a large zombie population and usually has a large number of valuable items and weapons in it. On the flip side some are just regular areas with zombies and they rarely have anything valuable in them. To a certain extent it extends the game play, but it’s a major distraction if you’re playing it for the story. It does add some quality battles to the game, but most are infuriating solo. The variety of difficulty is also something to be noted. There are easy ways out of some challenges considering they have doors and you can close them after you throw a few grenades. Unfortunately other areas are more closed in and it’ll you’ll have to work around runners and leading them around doors to slow them down.

The island’s explorable areas are a lot smaller and this makes it slightly disappointing. The thing that made me like the original, and want a sequel, was the large lush areas you could explore. In Riptide you have one whole less area to explore and it makes the game feel shorter to a certain extent. Also the utilities in the original were actually useful, like cars. In Riptide it introduces the use of boats, but they are harder to steer and, if anything, annoying since if you go too slow zombies will tip you over. In the cars you can drive zombies would just be bumped to the side. So you have a more vulnerable, louder, zombie attracting vehicle that’s extremely limited in maneuverability and availability on the island. You can only access it at the beginning of the game and doesn’t help you explore that much of the island. So it made me wonder what they were thinking considering it’s kinda useless.

The only thing that made me think of how useless it is was is the online experience I had. A small group was going with me to some mission location. It was in a more remote areas. Instead of taking a boat we JUMPED our way across the water to our next location. Not only did we avoid nearly all the zombies that would have been attracted to us, but we were also able to scout out the area ahead relatively undetected. In turn we kill that many more unsuspecting zombies with greater ease.

Alexa Loren has nothing to do with the game, but I got so bored writing the review I went and looked her up. I think she's stunning.

Alexa Loren has nothing to do with the game, but I got so bored writing the review I went and looked her up. I think she’s stunning.

The graphics are stunning at first, but it all fades fast. It seems like they polished the first few parts of the level(s) then forgot about the rest. The raining affect that take place at random on the island is awesome. The bloom effect comes up splotchy in a few dozen areas. The character models mouth kinda move in synch with the voice actors dialogue, but it isn’t of any fluid motion. So it kinda looks like a door opening and shutting really fast. Other then that their idle movements will get irritating after visiting one of the safe zones for the dozenth time.

The most notable thing about the graphic is the heaps of glitches. I guess some things don’t change, considering this is one thing they could have immensely improved on. Sure some of them are drop dead funny, but it ruins the immersion of the game. You can still kick dead zombies through boulders, bushes, and just about anything that isn’t usually impassible to the character you’re playing. There are multiple areas where the zombies animation kinda freezes. Most of the time it’s while they’re running and are stuck between two things.

The biggest set of glitches come during defense segments. Whenever you go to set down a wire barrier the entire game might freeze. For me it froze during the first and second defense segments. I had to take the game offline and restart the game 6+ times. This killed the immersion and pretty much ruined a good half of the game for me. I shouldn’t have to worry if something will load between scenes or have the game crash on me during a really important part of the game.

The multiplayer is both fun and completely obnoxious. Its fun to see people back you up while fighting a super hard zombie, but at the same time many players like to chuck grenades. So they can blow you up fast. Then there are a few glitches while playing multiplayer that ruin it for me. When doing the main quest and you go to turn something in and someone else is has the same quest then it turns it in for the both of you. That’s fine, but the quest character will echo their dialogue or it simply won’t come up at all. So you’ll have some guy standing there flappin his lips and movin’ his arms with no sound at all or it’s simply too muddled to hear anything.

This was, just like the last one, fun and disappointing. It could have been so much more and been developed better, like Dead Rising, but a lot of things get in the way of it being perfect. Like the glitches constantly grind on you as well as the repetitious game play. Don’t get me wrong this is a really fun game considering you can power through a few hours and mow down zombies left and right. So the game does a great in this aspect on making you feel God like. It’s just a strange experience because either you can easily over look these flaws or they’ll stop you from playing the game completely. If anything most should probably wait till it’s $20 before considering buying it.

++++++++

+Positive+

++++++++

+Fun gameplay

+Great graphics

+Fun open world exploration

+Decent followup story

————-

-Negative-

————-

-GAME BREAKING GLITCHES

-Stale main character animations

-Glitchy sound

6.0/10

7.1/10 – IMDB as of 05/07/2013

56/100 – Metacritic Critic Score

6.4/10 – Metacritic User Score

NOTE: I hesitantly wrote this review due to the fact that this series is a very love hate relationship with most people. So if I praise it too much people will hate me and if I hate on it too much people will hate me, and I already have very few followers as it is. Also the other reviewers I’ve read added too much garbage to their reviews then actually looking at the game. One wasted several paragraphs over their controversial pre-order zombie lady busts, that didn’t ship in the US for some reason. The others wasted time on complaining about the previous game and basically gave this game a failing grade out of association. So the development of this game has been nothing but stange.

Silent Hill Downpour Video Game Review for the PS3

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Some Spoilers
Format: Playstation 3
Difficulty Played: First play through Normal/Normal
Next play through: Easy/Hard or Hard/Easy
The story is fantastic, in parts. I know that sounds odd so let me explain. You play Murphy Pendleton who’s in prison for unknown reasons. It cuts to a gory scene where you are taught to fight and then it fast forwards to the day you transfer to another prison. Once again you’re being thrown into another situation with little to no background. So as Murphy boards the bus some prison guard (Anne Marie Cunningham) gives him a ugly look and then you’re shown speeding down the highway with all the other inmates. For whatever reason, it think it was the weather conditions, the bus driver decides to take a detour through, you guessed it, Silent Hill. The bus crashes, Murphy escapes the grasp of Anne, and the adventure to get out of Silent Hill begins.
After this the moral choice system kicks and and you basically determine Murphy’s fate. Which is awesome since there are multiple endings. The main story is something similar to a American Twilight Zone episode built upon self discovery, with heavy amnesia like qualities. In all honesty it runs along the lines of a American tragedy and melodrama, unlike a Japanese one where they go out of their way to gross you the fuck out. Also it’s heavily laced with serial killers, child molesters, and tons of other nasty sub themes and stories to make you completely depressed and disgusted. There are many parts of the story that hint at things, rather then showing you. However, much of it doesn’t come together until the end. I’m trying not to give much away, but it looks like what would happen if a ‘strong silent’ character type landed in Silent Hill.
The main story is determined based on characters actions through a moral choice system. Silent Hill, and the game, seem to feed a lot on Murphy’s subconscious and worries. Since it’s all based upon morals more enemies you kill the more likely you’ll receive a bad ending. To a certain extent it’s like Silent Hill was testing Murphy to see if he was a reformed man or a cold blooded killer, because it takes NO short cuts in trying to terrify the shit out of the main character. So whole more choice system seems to play with the character like some sort of mindgame. Like it’s tempting to kill some of the enemies, considering some don’t re-spawn, but in the long run you could run into MORE. If you don’t you’ll only have to worry about running from the ones you didn’t currently kill. Other players have found out that you can cheat at the end and receive a completely different ending, as well as the achievement for it. This completely defeats the purpose of having a moral choice system, extending replay value, and some of the choices involved. However, in order to get all the endings you’d have to play the game 6 times and with all the other great games coming out no one really has time for that. So it’s really a double edged sword.
Then the rain system that adds to the moral choice system and the almost ‘no hope’ atmosphere, that Silent Hill has been known for, is fantastic and interestingly done. The more it rains, the more it spawns monsters. Also the more it rains the more the monsters know where you are. So the whole town, and rain, feels like a giant GPS for the monsters and you’re the destination. It’s really creepy. To say the least it does a great job on making you feel paranoid and to make you feel like the entire landmass of Silent Hill is out to get you. However it’s completely killed by the fact that you can go indoors and jump right back outside and everything is fine. To a certain extent it’s like you cheat the experience of waiting for all the towns creepy crawlies to go away and just find a way to skip over them completely if you want to. Sure, if you get tired of fighting that’s cool, but from what I’ve heard it wasn’t a option in the other Silent Hill games.
However the side quests stories are sometimes something to be desired. Yes, they’re dark and dreary and really add to the overwhelming feel of the town that everyone is just rife with sin. So they do add to the towns mythos, but some are so different they are distracting from the main story line and would probably deserve their own Silent Hill story. It’s feels more like a interactive tour guide for unfinished Silent Hill ideas. The two that do add to the main story line DO add some clarity, but not a whole lot. Also many of them aren’t even a factor in the moral choice system. So while you’re putting spirits to rest you aren’t obtaining any good points for it. To me this would just make since they added multiple endings. On top of that some of the rewards for the side quests give you great melee weapons, like the Tomahawk. However you can only get many of them half way through the game, and since you LOSE all weapons when Silent Hill changes worlds there’s almost zero point in getting them. YES, some respawn at the side quests final location, but that’s a lot of backtracking for a single freakin’ weapon and since you can only carry two (one melee and one gun) you’ll find yourself trying to pick between running back somewhere to get a melee weapon or go some place where you last saw a fireaxe.
The gameplay is simplistic for the most part, with some exception to ladders, some movement due to graphical issues, and combat. Many times I’d find him dancing around the bottom of the ladder instead of going up. There isn’t a button to do some of these actions, like duck under something. So you have no choice but to frustratingly watch him twitch while you try to force him to duck or grab a ladder and go up, or down, it. He isn’t PewDiePie so he doesn’t have the right to flounder about in a game doing stupid things and talking to toilets. Also considering I don’t have the patience to watching him to a poor rendition of a square dance underneath the very area I need to go to escape monsters or progress in the game only pisses me off. Stephano isn’t under the ladder Murphy! Stop looking for him and get up the ladder!!!!
Then there was a really neat game mechanic that never worked, or that I wasn’t able to fully use it. You can walk up to a door and slightly open it to peer inside the next room. I thought it was neat considering most games only give you a crappy keyhole to look through and it would appear grainy or just too muddled to notice anything of any importance. Downpour it gives you full visual advantage of the room. However, I found this to be worthless more then half the time considering the monsters DIDN’T appear until after you passed a corner or you did something to make them spawn. So while it would have been awesome if it worked. On top of that it seems some of them were designed to BLEND IN with the background. So I often found myself walking around and I’d turn around and they would be two inches from Murphy’s face.
Another nice feature is that before you start the game you can choose your level of difficulty for the main story and a separate difficulty for the puzzles you’ll encounter. This is awesome if you just want the story, or just want the puzzles, and don’t want to be bothered with the latter. I wish this was integrated into other games considering most puzzles you’d have to be weary of something killing you. In this game all puzzles are secluded and you don’t have to worry about being killed with the exception of maybe 2 late in the game puzzles.
The combat was stupid half the time, but understandable. The Silent Hill series hasn’t ever been known to empower it’s player. So you’d have a character who, not only couldn’t aim a gun, and when you could you’d missed 90% of time anyway. However, Murphy CAN aim. Murphy can hit his targets 90% of the time. Also if you know where to look, and when to run, you’ll be really well stocked weapon wise for more then half the game. Which is OK, but after you get depleted mid-fight pistol whipping the monsters isn’t easy and doesn’t do much damage. Also if you smack them with the butt of your shotgun the handle BREAKS within 3 hits or so and isn’t worth using as a melee weapon at all.
Then some of the melee weapons are something to be desired. The entire game is littered with nothing short of useless crap. You’ll find beer bottles, chairs, and even blanks of wood that aren’t worth more then a few hits until they break. After a while I unintentionally knew when the weapon was going to break and would search for a new one mid fight despite other peoples complaining about the weapons system. Also you can only care TWO (2) weapons, as mentioned before. A melee and a handgun. To a certain extent I feel that this was intention since Silent Hill is meant to cripple the player and not help them. Besides you aren’t Niko Bellic with infinite pockets to store 12 plus weapons and over a 100,000 lbs worth of ammo. This adds realism to the game, but also adds some irritation due to the fact that good melee weapons are few and far between.
At the same time the combat is interesting on how they programmed the monsters. Often there was a Screamer or Prisoner Minion that would walk in and out of the fog. It was kinda like saying come get me! Then one of the other monsters would sneak up behind Murphy and attack him. It was hilarious, frustrating, and neat all at the same time. I can’t help but think this is intentional, because this has similar behavioral patterns to pack animals, like wolfs. Also some of the weaker monsters would also be a challenge. For example the Screamers you can be knocked down, eventually, but it seems like they wait for you to turn around. When you do they’ll jump on you and bite your neck. So it seems like they made the monsters a little more crafty then the previous games which they just ran up to you and pummel the crap out of you.
All that makes me wonder why people were saying the monsters in Downpour weren’t scarey. Sure they aren’t a traditional monster, like demons or something. Half of them look like humans or something from slasher flicks, but I found them intimidating sometimes due to their programming. I guess this is some bias since I didn’t enjoy most Silent Hills monsters to begin with. Most looked so anatomically impossible that I don’t believe that many of them would be able to move, much less kill the main protagonist. Like with my first monster encounter in Silent Hill 2 was a Lying Figure, I think. He looked like a anorexic person having bouts of explosive, and corrosive, vomiting and/or diarrhea everywhere. To me that isn’t to scary. It just kinda looks unsanitary. I mean seriously. The only thing it would have needed was a pair of butt cheeks on its head and it would have been something from a South Park episode. Besides, the monsters are based off of Murphys subconscious and fears. So it’s probably something that wasn’t told in the story, or something I didn’t pay attention to, that would have made the monsters even more disturbing if they explained them more.
The graphics are stunning and are so beautifully washed and grainy that it gives a somber sorrowful tone to the whole experience. The cut scenes are almost MOVIE quality, or better. Also the attention to detail was really neat. Like if Murphy got hurt he would slowly bleed onto whatever clothes he had, but at the same time when you healed him the blood disappeared. So apparently he carried a Tide to Go pen with him everywhere. Also the rain textures are hypnotically soothing despite the constant paranoia of monsters. Some of the scenes are truly the best graphics I’ve seen in ages.
However most of the game suffers from sever freezing and mild clipping issues. There were multiple times were it would freeze and Murphy would be 10 steps ahead of his previous location, or I was being attacked by monsters. Other times, when I’d move from one area to another, the game would load up fully load then I’d take a few steps, it would freeze, and it would close to the loading screen AGAIN. There were also some odd clipping issues. There were a few times I’d cut near a tree, phone pole, or building to prevent from getting hit by a monster and one of Murphys feet would get stuck in the object. So he’d kinda freeze in his animated running position but I would eventually be able to wiggle him out of the object. This would ruin the flow and immersion of the game. Also many times it would get Murphy severely hurt. Like one time he had 20% health left. Sure I don’t mind graphics glitches in other games, but having little to no glitches MATTERS the most in fast paced games and/or total immersion games, like this game.
In conclusion: I love this game, even though it has sever flaws. It’s dark, depressing, and really captures a tragic and miserable feel for the entire game, despite the fact that some of the rain elements help keep you calm while fighting multiple monsters. The story is a lot more chipper then most Silent Hill games, considering most endings aren’t completely confusing, disgusting, nor soul destroying, like previous games. So it gives the story a more American drama-tragedy feel then a horror game half the time. The puzzles are challenging, but not too tough. It’s draws you in making you wonder what will happen to Murphy and the rest involved, while not fully answering all the questions. If you’re looking for something a little different, with quite a few scares, pick this up. Heck it’s only $20 now. So why not?
7.5/10
IMDB – 8.3 as of 02/08/13
Metacritic.com critics – 64/100 as of 02/08/13
Metacritic.com user score – 6.8/10 as of 02/08/13