Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell PS3 Review

gat_out_of_hell

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

Saints Row 4 The National Treasure Edition PS3 Videogame Review

saints_row_iv

WARNING: Spoilers be spoiled

The Saints Row gang has taken over the United States of America and have somehow made their lead President. He starts to run the entire nation into the ground and calls a press conference to settle everyone down. Seconds after his public speech on how he’s going to clean it all up Aliens, called the Zin, show up kill, kidnap, destroy everything pretty much proving he can’t do shit. After a while everyone gains conscience and make some kind of stark realization that they aren’t on Earth anymore. As it turns out the smartest one there steals a ship and somehow notifies everyone they are in a ‘simulation,’ which is a nice way of saying VIDEO GAME. So they decide to do all they can to screw up the simulation and kill the Aliens that captured them.

Now usually when a series ‘jumps the shark‘ it is a giant cluster fuck of poorly written dialogue, story, jokes, character development, etc. However the group over at Volition makes jumping the shark a complete new art form full of various flavors of humor and wonderful tributes to movies, television, and even other games. Like most open world games you can run around doing dick all, or help someone do side quests, or main quests. Although after doing the seventh or so crack the code, blaze, or whatever else mini-game it’ll get repetitive, but if you want to max out your level (capped at 50) then doing all those, and some side quests, and should max you out before the end of the main quest.

I liked all of the stories told. They were entertaining and the humor flowed differently from character to character and none of it was too distasteful. However some were just throwbacks to the previous games. Since I hadn’t played any of them I had no clue what was going on. So they kinda didn’t hold any relevance and I wound up not caring sometimes. Sure that’s probably my fault, but I can’t get engrossed in a story about Matt Miller‘s wankery for his favorite TV show. Also some of them didn’t make sense. One confusing one in particular involved going to save Benjamin King from a simulation. Apparently lots of people are trapped in other simulations that make them think that all of the persons worst nightmares are coming true. So this involves a rival gang surviving and a hologram of his ex-girlfriend coming to kill him. Once the player gets him out, or to a point where he can leave, King requests that he stay in the simulation so he can kill his ex. My first thought was why does this matter?

As the story goes once someone is removed from their simulation they are kicked out of their holding pod. So simulation crashes and its assumed to be deleted from the Zin’s system. So in other words his ex-girlfriend isn’t real. She’s kinda like a AI unit in a videogame. It’s just a re-imaging of her. Once the simulation is deleted, she is deleted. Whats the point in drawing out something LONGER and get vengeance on something thats going to be deleted anyway? Besides, the ship has two really well rounded hackers on it, Kinzie Kensington and Matt Miller. Both could easily find the ex-girlfriend AI if she decided to go rogue and delete her that way.

Others are almost completely relatable on both being comical and/or nightmarish. For example: you liberate Pierce Washington from a corporate advertisements nightmare gone wild. Another makes Asha Odekar come to terms with her fear of failure. This one made me feel bad for someone who’s probably a strong headed killing machine, but truthfully its something everyone faces.

I hate to say it but most missions, beside the side quests, were incredibly easy. It mostly consists of go to x-location and kill x-bad guy. Sure the variety of story spruced things up a bit, but the game play was boring at times. I eventually found myself looking around for the collectibles considering they added some insight to the characters and gave you various powerups. Even the DLC(s) were easy which consisted of the same system of gameplay, but would only momentarily involve other aspects like doing a arbitrary task for someone in order to continue the mission. Like one involved finding all the people dressed up as animals and caging them. Fun, funny, weird, but still kinda boring.

One of the things I enjoyed the most, besides the humor, were the cameos. Sure, cameos are usually a bunch of people selling out for money, but many of the characters in this game had a purpose and are totally essential to the story telling experience. Like Keith David, one of my favorite bit actors of all time, is a main character and is apart of many parts of the main story. He even has a few good one liners later on. Rob Van Dam and Roddy Piper add a good bit of hilarious, and gruff, voice overs as well. Neil Patrick Harris is a villain and you can eventually have him join your crew. Even the Burch family, from Hey Ash Whatcha Playin’?, make a guest appearance. Due to the good amount of voice work done it adds a whole level different level of of humor to the game, makes it even funnier, and more memorable then most cameos in movies/games/tv shows/etc.

The graphics were really well detailed and accentuated the absurdity of it all. Like in some areas if a NPC stood next to a void, a open wormhole in the programming, then their eyes would bulge or arms would get scrawny. To a certain extent the game poked fun at itself by letting some NPCs walk along like they weren’t fully rendered. Other times cars would drive upside down or the buildings walls would look like they were constantly refreshing. Another cool thing is that in some missions the game would fake freeze the screen and a programming dialogue box would open up like someone was programming it as I played the game.

However the graphics were a major problem for the game. Often it would crash to a complete stop. So I had to reset the PS3 about 10 times total. To a certain extent I’m just glad it didn’t ruin my saved games files. However it was problematic if you used some of the more ferocious Homies to fight along side you. Like I’d recruit the Burch Family or Homies that were upgraded, a lot. They’d help in some of the intense fights. However, whenever we get into a skirmish they immediately use super powers on whatever enemy is around. So do the math, multiple cars, people, aliens, and your NPCs roaming about and fighting all at once== system overload. After I noticed that I stopped using them as much. This took away from the experience, to me, because the whole point of them being apart of the game is so they can help you out. Also there was a drastic difference in crashes between going solo and using NPCs. If I went solo I’d last about 9 hours of gameplay (shut up I know that’s bad), but if I used NPCs it would maybe last 4 hours before it crashed.

This is probably one of my favorite comedy games of all time. Yes, it’s a rare COMEDY GAME. Very few people in this world know what COMEDY is and how you can be funny or just fucking pathetic. Yes they straddle the lines on some of the shit jokes, but I found myself laughing so hard I had to pause the game and calm down more often then rolling my eyes. Sure the story lines kinda cluster together and some are just terrible, but for the most part the stories told are rather fun and stupid in a jovial fashion. The controls are perfect, and so are most of the graphics. The only thing that brings it down is that it sporadically crashes to the point where I had to restart my PS3 multiple times, but it wasn’t a problem for the most part. The difficulty wasn’t too challenging, but if you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing the game will pretty much run you over.

This is simply put: a great game.

8.5/10

Beyond: Two Souls Video Game Review PS3

beyond-two-souls-e3-gallery-poster-light

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

Deathspank Video Game Review

DeathSpank

Format: PC, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360

Difficulty Played: Don’t Remember

WARNING: Mild Spoilers!

Deathspank is a comedy adventure based on a weird hero in a purple spedo (no I’m not kidding you) who goes on a medieval/steampunk quest to save the land from a tyrannical overlord named Lord Von Prong. Along the way he meet a slew of people who will help him defeat Von Prong, with some draw backs. You gradually venture through the world righting wrongs and helping other random people with simple tasks, like settling a married couples problems. Eventually you figure out what he’s doing and the destruction he’s done.

The gameplay is incredibly boring, despite the controls are easy to master. Most of the quests are nothing but fetch quests. You go to a certain location and either kill a certain creature a dozen or so times or find a certain item. Also it locks you out of certain areas before you’re anywhere near that level so it strips some exploration from you due to the fact that you can’t discover things early like in the Elder Scrolls series. All fighting is just clicking and popping potions. This doesn’t require any skill and only makes it more irritating when many areas can easily overwhelm you with enemies. The terrain is limited and lacks interactivity, despite it being well pixelated.

The graphics are lavishly cartoony and are well shaded. The 2d houses are a nice touch to the game because it leaves room so you can click behind the building and go around it. Other times it allows you to pick up items from enemies you’ve killed behind buildings. There are even areas that the depths in the terrain curves and makes it whole experience feel like you are truly trapped in a small world. To a certain extent it feels like a throw back to top down third person games even though a lot of the world seems like it trys to just round out everything and not over tax whatever system you’re playing it on.

I just completely hate the jokes. Out of all the dialogue and story, which is just bland, the jokes stand out for being the most terrible part of the game. To a certain extent I will admit that comedy is difficult to do in video games. However, after years of experiencing the gaming culture, and how many people take time to go out of their way to mock themselves, the jokes would fall short due to how generic they feel and simplicity of the jokes. Like they have a few pieces of armor that are given names to play off of other RPG cliches, like the Gauntlets of Awesomeness. Then they’ll have quests to get chicken lips and the reason the witch wants you to get them basically amounts to “Why not?” It’s just lame. Its like they’re late to the party and everyone has already talked about the shit they wanted to and are drunk or asleep. I’m not saying they need to change their humor but a lot of it is too intentional and forced.

I was disappointed by this game. People keep saying its hilarious or a good ‘comedy game.’ It was rarely funny and the few jokes that did make me chuckle was almost reminiscent of kid humor or some decent play on words. The gameplay was completely boring. There isn’t any real skill to it all. There’s even a option to let the system chose the best armor for you. At most you just need to stock up on potions and grind grind grind your way to level 20 and after that everything else is cake. Even older games like the original Diablo took more skill then this. Also the story, as said before is super generic.

4.5/10

77/100 – Metacritic Critic Reviews

7.9/10 – Metacritic User Reviews

The Amazing Spiderman Video Game Review

url

Format: Playstation 3

Difficulty Played: Hard

Some spoilers ahead folks!

Spiderman has just finished battling Curt Conners and stopping him from destroying New York City, and turning its citizens into mutant lizard people. Now he learns that the disease hasn’t left the city yet. Oscorp has been experimenting with the left overs and accidentally releases it on the public. Meanwhile, Alistair Smythe insisted the Oscorp invest in his new nanobot technology and built a whole slew of giant robots to deal with the outbreak. In order to treat the disease Spiderman breaks Conners out of a mental institution to get his help in finding a cure. This goes horribly awry and it accidentally releases dozens of other inmates.

The Amazing Spiderman is freaking fun! The web swinging throughout the city is near accurate with the size of the buildings. The acrobatic moves that Spiderman comes with, and you can obtain later, are fantastic and are as fun to watch as they are to unlock. The extra comics and unlockables are neat to see and it helps you appreciate how much detail the people put into this game. The story beautifully adds to the previous The Amazing Spiderman movie. This, so far, is one of the best movie tie-in games I’ve ever played.

The story does a great job of picking up right where the movie left off and sends Manhattan, New York, straight to hell. There are multiple crimes and plagues that are threatening the city, and yep, Spiderman is the only one that save them from certain doom. The jumbled and fast paced flow of the main story reminds me of the original Spiderman series and really keeps true to the main concepts of Spiderman. It kinda gave the feeling of “the good guys always wins” and “just keep truckin’.” It even does a great job of building tension with the giant bosses and continued decay of the city, along side reading the cities local tweets that are displayed during the loading screen. Some of the added detail is citizens puken green liquid in the streets to the smog in the city turning colors. This really adds to the atmosphere and is freaking wonderful. There are multiple points of pure dread that over flows the city, and Spiderman’s personal life.

Some of the characters gradually change while some almost take a complete 180. Like Gwen Stacy comes off as a complete bitch, where as in the movie she was more stable and nice. But hey she even mentions losing her Dad recently (see The Amazing Spiderman movie) so that might be some reason to her character change. It also adds considerable depth to Conners and makes him more human then just your average comic book villain, like most comics or shows do. It still plays off the misunderstood scientist, but it showed his gradual grief and dismay to his own selfishness. So he eventually comes to and straightens up to help Spiderman, and Manhattan.

It eventually delves into the scientific debate of human evolution and medicine and which way it should go. Even during one of the final Oscorp missions Connners and Smythe are bickering back and forth whether or not people will be more accepting of nanobots or gene therapy in their lives. This is neat because it’s a real world plausibility. This is also the main divide, and rivalry, between the two scientists. The only thing that was notably odd about the story was some of the voice acting. Near the end it seemed more like they were just saying lines or whenever there was a word highlighted in the scripted to be emphasized it was over acted.

There are multiple side missions that kinda add to the depth of the city, but are distracting and repetitive. There are only so many times you can break up a mugging or stop a car chase in the SAME ways before it gets completely boring. Also lots of the time the bad guys are the exact same or have only small variations that it isn’t even noticeable when you’re fighting them. There are some fun side missions, but when they give you 10+ between each mission, and many of them are the same kinds of missions, it only adds to the repetition.

If you wait long enough in the game one of the unlockables is a icon addition to the map you have that tells you where all the local escaped mental ward patients are and loose comic book pages. This is both a nice feature and a little dumb. Secret collectibles are suppose to be in unknown locations, however since they’re 700 comic book pages and more then 20 patients to collect it does help some. So all in all they are just so so. Now don’t get me wrong the collectibles add some extra game play time to the game. They also really help build Spiderman and it gives extra XP to unlock more moves or even better armor. But they, like all collectibles, are tedious. Also with games like this they aren’t skippable due to how much extra XP they give you. So if you’re playing it on hard you’ll have to collect them in order to prepare for the next stage, or even the next boss. On another note you might get your butt handed to you multiple times due to minor flaws and graphical issues while fighting.

The controls were completely smooth and easy to grasp. This sometimes makes combat a breeze, but it’s frustrating considering you have to have a eye on Spiderman’s head to see his spidy-sense go off. This be the notification that you need to hit the counter button, but often the graphics bloom (brightness from natural light) would completely blotch out the indicator. A white indicator on white background isn’t really visible. Other times it’s a snap second indication. So it feels like some of the pacing was set to Viewtiful Joe, which is super fast timing. The only problem that I saw with the controls is that during some of the open world areas the graphical glitches would interfere with the direction you were sending Spiderman and you couldn’t compensate quick enough to correct the problem.

The graphics are something strange and sometimes something to be desired. This is strange since the other half the time the graphics are as beautiful as this generation of games can deliver. Like most of the real world is being wowed by movie like quality cut-scenes, like in Tomb Raider. However, this game takes the character models and uses them for the cut-scenes. Its kinda bad considering most character models are only meant to bend a certain way. The cut-scenes try to add to the model that it makes them look awkward, just weird, or even stiff. However sometimes a nice feature comes up where you can control Spiderman’s viewpoint with the L3 stick. So if you get board with what they are saying you can look off in the distance or admire the elaborate detail of the room you’re in. Other times the graphics don’t seem to render correctly and look like they are Playstation 2 graphics. This isn’t that bad, but given that the other character models, including some cars, seem stiff, then it’s still noticeably bad.

Other various glitches seem to only occur in the open world environment. There were multiple times where Spiderman would clip through the edges of buildings. Other times he would go to swing, or climb back onto the wall, and he would be stuck in a falling pose and you could spin him in circles and nothing would happen. One time he literally got stuck in that pose. However the great thing about all of these is that none of them were game crashing bugs. Most, if not all, worked themselves out and I didn’t have to restart the system.

I usually don’t do DLC reviews, or add them to the main game review, but I thought I should mention these. The DLC won’t be worth the money for most people. There is a mega pack DLC, for about $10 now, where you can play as Rhino, Conners, and, as funny as it may seem, Stan Lee. Now it is fun to swing through Manhattan as Stan Lee, but the other mini-games are either terrible or just rehashes of older games like Space Invaders. They really are kinda bland. I wish they made them into story playable add-on’s instead of cheap rehashes. So fair warning.

For anyone looking to have fun pick up this game. If you decide to go for a 100% game completion then there is well over 20 hours of game play. Also there is enough decent achievements to balance out the annoying ones, like collect all of x-item. The story, as said before, is one of the BEST I’ve seen in a long time. It is really memorable in my book, but the controls, in open world, repetitive unchallenging side quests, and the ending ruins part of the experience. Wait till it’s about $20 or $30 before you pick it up.

++++++++
+Positive+
++++++++
+Graphics
+Story
+Most controls
+Atmosphere of the Game (it’s a fun loving adventure feel)
————-
-Negative-
————-
-Repiticious game play
-Minor Graphical Glitches
-Controls in open world are horrible
-Strange bouts of horrible voice acting

7.0/10

7.6/10 – IMDB

71/100 – Metacritic – Critic Score

7.2/10 – Metacritic – User Score

Hotline Miami Video Game Review

Format: Personal Computer, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita

Difficulty Played: N/A – default is hard until you get use to the gameplay style

Some spoilers!

You wake up in a haze in a run down 1989 apartment in Miami, Florida. Your phone rings at your apartment and you’re instructed to go to a location to do some sort of menial task. You go through the front door and open a package. It instructs you to wear a mask (a rooster head labeled “Richard”) and kill people at the location previously given to you. Through a series of long bloody killing rampages, mixed with stranger voice mails, you’ll eventually run into strange visions, even hallucinatory episodes. Then after the killing rampages you run into strange people giving you perks around town and witness various horrors from killing. Eventually, their words become garbled and you start have stranger and stranger dreams, that might be real.

This is one of the funner games I’ve ever played in a long time. It takes the original design of video games, like getting high scores, and mixes it successfully with a story with psychological views on killing. So think Pac-Man, except you MURDER people instead of eating orbs. This game is hard to describe due to the metaphors, symbolism, and general confusing way it presents itself through out the game. People keep saying this is like the Drive movie but in game forum. I disagree. This is more along the lines of a botched spy movie mixed with Scarface gore and PTSD themes of Reign Over Me. Yes there are Drive references everywhere, but there are also tons of other 80s references like the excess palm trees, lavish indoor pools, and even VHS store with micro images of famous movies.

As for the story I was pleasantly surprised. It seems like a hybrid of The Bourne series, with everything previously stated above. There are some unneeded elements, like the addition of a girlfriend, but I think it might be homage to some of the other over the top 80s movies. Ya know, there’s always some sort of cliché plot device or whatever. Also it’s unsettling to think of what happens to one of the main villains. It really isn’t what you’d think either. He shows up maybe twice and then walks out knowing he’s killing maybe a 100+ people. Then there’s the weird fact that you’re fighting men in nice white suites, which is later reviled to be the local Russian mob. There’s even hints in the cut scenes that the city is further descending into chaos because of your, and the mobs, actions.

Due to all these elements you don’t find out the whole story till the end, of either character, but even then its up for debate. Like when the story splits to another character at one part and it leaves you wondering what really happened to that character due to later events in the game. Since one of the main protagonists gets shoved in the hospital. One could only assume he was either killed or beaten into a coma. On the other hand both endings for the characters seem sound since, if you figure it out, through out the game there are suggestions of them in the background. As the big oppressive Mob town feel gets more engrossing and it’ll seems like the town is descending into chaos, like mentioned in the cut scenes. However with the final ending it makes you wonder if both characters were out killing for pleasure or they generally hated the Mob.

The almost PTSD fueled episodes are something to be desired for most. Sometimes they just simply don’t add to the story at all and are only there for shock value. Like a few begin with gory scenes of death or talking corpses. Which makes you wonder how sever of a conscience the main protagonist has. It does add some depth to the character, but some of it is too weird to begin questioning. Like there are multiple scenes with people in masks taunting you about the various murders your committing. Yes, a few try to help you realize whats going on, but its still confusing no-less. It made sense in the end, but during much of the fighting it’s really distracting.

Also depending on the ending you get you’ll either like it or hate it. It takes a dark gritty turn depending on how well you play the game (finding secrets, etc.) and is slightly depressing considering what all happens. One involves a goofy ending that is almost reminiscent of a bad spy novel. Also this ending kinda doesn’t make sense considering there isn’t strong ties between the two groups they were trying to separate. The other is more realistic and is slightly plausible, although really freaking dark. This reminds me of the true nature of most pranksters: they are very malicious. Regardless I found the endings, for both characters, was easy to understand, despite the majority of the Internets confusion.

Another interesting aspect of the characters is that both have different play styles that you have to get use to while still maintaining some sameness. One theme that runs through the game is that you can only have ONE weapon. This is understandable since it’s all based upon quick interactions and you won’t have time to switch weapons because you’ll wind up dead. The first character is about pure brutality and the other is more about speed and timing.

The controls are easy to master. However, the pace at which the game throws things at you is infuriating, which makes the beginning of the game difficult. So to a certain extent there is a learning curve, but you can pick it up quick. Since it’s a open ended fighting game you can design your own method of combat due to the variety of weapons, terrain, and the AI. Also along the way you find out what happened to other people put under these mystery group and why they were their. For whatever reason when you find their masks you can gain 1 special perk. Like there’s a cheetah mask named Tony that enables lets you have faster executions.

Also due to the ferocious AI you will die a lot! The whole system is built upon a ‘one hit kill’ health system which is good and bad. It means 90% of the enemies can get killed with one hit, but it means you can get killed with one hit as well. This is actually probably one of the main draws to the game. You can plan out your whole attack scheme and screw it up half way and you might have to restart the whole level. This is why it kind reminds me of Demon Souls. If you don’t pay close attention you are completely screwed.

The bright neon colors only add to the unsettling drama and gore, because of how strangely soothing it is. It really captures the 80s themes really well and gives a smooth look due to how well they all transition between rooms, cut scenes, and even characters. Some stages are like one large flowing piece of artwork. Even the cut scenes that zoom in on the faces are really well done, but blend with the others and it makes you wonder if the author was trying to hint at something or just lazy.

All in all this was a great gaming experience. I loved the art, music, the fluidity of the controls and speed of the game itself. However it doesn’t come without its flaws. When I first bought the game it crashed to the desktop maybe 8 times. It was a few days before a update was released to fix the problem. This was odd considering I was running this on a Windows 7 64 bit machine and the graphics aren’t that demanding. Also, as said before, it’s really hard. If you might spend hours on the same level if you don’t pay attention. Regardless, if you want something fast paced and unique please buy this game. If you hate dying, A LOT, then try to find a demo.

You probably won’t see this rating for a while.

9.0/10

85/100 – Metacritic.com – Crititics

8.2/10 – Metacritic.com – User Score

Places to buy:

Steam — $9.99 – download – DRM

GamersGate.com – $9.95 – download

GoodOldGames.com – $9.99 – download – no DRM

Amazon.com — $4.99 – code for Steam

System Requirements

Minimum:

    • OS:Microsoft® Windows® XP / Vista / 7
    • Processor:1.2GHz processor
    • Memory:512 MB RAM
    • Graphics:DirectX 8-compatible graphics card with at least 32MB of video memory
    • DirectX®:9.0c
    • Hard Drive:250 MB HD space
    • Additional:Microsoft Xbox 360 Controller or Direct Input compatible controller

Recommended:

    • OS:Microsoft® Windows® XP / Vista / 7
    • Processor:1.4GHz processor or faster
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Graphics:DirectX 8-compatible graphics card with at least 32MB of video memory
    • DirectX®:9.0c
    • Hard Drive:250 MB HD space
    • Additional:Microsoft Xbox 360 Controller or Direct Input compatible controller

Silent Hill Downpour Video Game Review for the PS3

Silent-hill-downpour-wallpaper-2-hd-1080p

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