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

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

Tomb Raider Video Game Review

Vamers-Tomb-Raider-2013-Lara-Croft-Poster-Launch-Date

Format: Playstation 3

Difficulty: Normal

Some spoilers ahead folks!

Lara Croft and a team of her friends sail to Yamatai based upon a hunch she has for lost treasure. On the way there the ship rips in half due to a freak storm. Everyone has to evacuate and somehow makes it to the island. The unfriendly natives capture most of Lara’s friends. So Lara is left alone to discover the mysteries of the island and save her friends.

This game is fantastic. It, unlike the other Tomb Raider games, has character development and a really decent plot. The plot is almost akin to the old adventure movies. In comparison to the few other Lara Craft games this one has vastly improved. Unlike the others Lara has a semi-steady line of character development where in others she was either a mute or what she said wasn’t really important. In one game she was particularly cold and turned into a complete bitch by the end of the game. This took the ‘happy adventure’ spirit of the game and flushed it down the toilet. This one she becomes a well rounded action hero and the rest of the surviving crew of hers develops with her.

They’ve restarted the story line, and character development, about 2 or 3 times before and now they finally decided to stick with her character and background. Which is nice since everything is a lot clearer and develop with each other. With this reboot Lara Croft is thrown into a horde of crazed worshipers of a unknown God. She eventually comes into contact with other members of her wrecked ship and slowly uncovers the story behind the cult. She, despite some of her apparent frailness, learns to kill, and rather quickly. Which is fine by me. In drastic situations it is a “flee or fight” kind of thing. Either you flee the scene, fight them, or break down into a sobbing mess and become whoever’s latest murder victim. So the quick transition for the character made complete sense to me. So unlike other action/adventure heroes there’s something soothingly tragic about this reboot of Lara. Her character kinda keeps a happy poise to her while things continually get WORSE around her.

As for the story itself: it reminds me of the OLD Indianna Jones, which is awesome! The one where it made both science and supernatural elements completely plausible to exist in the same universe. Also it teases you with those elements all throughout the game that really develop into a fantastic finish. You’ll see a snip-it of some sort of monster here and there and then you see what the God of the island at the very end of the game. Also the scenery of the island, and various locations further adds to the depth of the story elements. Although some just don’t make sense.

The characters are all underdeveloped except the 5 main characters, including the bad guys. So when something important happens the emotional impact is significantly less then what it should be. Like with The Walking Dead game that TellTale developed. You could talk to the characters and get to know them, before anything happened. Here everything is rushed after you crash land on the island, which happens in the first 5 minutes of the game. So there is ZERO time to get to know many of the characters. Yes some slowly develop through notes and snip-its you find throughout the island. However, collecting them is completely optional. So if you decide not to you only get half, or less, of the story and characters development. Also there was one scene that made me HATE Lara. Her friend went adventuring for some tool they needed. He gets stuck and she offers to help. He refuses and blows a hole in the ship he was on, sinking it, and killing everything else that was on board. So she killed a more then a 100+ men by then, been in tighter spots, but she gets into one cramped room where her friend that needs help and she abandons him and lets him kill himself. It just baffled me and didn’t make any sense. It was needless drama for the sake of having drama in the story. However, despite these two gripes they did significantly better then the other Tomb Raider games story wise.

Also the title of the game is TOMB RAIDER which is weird since there is very little tomb raiding. There are about 6 complete tombs and all consist of 1 main puzzle. There are no enemies in the tomb and there aren’t any additional puzzles in the room. For me most of the puzzles were easy to figure out and basically consisted of climbing, shooting, jumping on whatever was in the room. So they aren’t too hard. This is fine, but the rest of the game consists of less puzzles and traditional adventure element then it would need to be a adventure game. So it kinda feels like a better, and well rounded, Uncharted game, except she isn’t a handsome douche. You spend most of the time shooting things and running away then solving any kind of puzzles. This is a drastic difference between this edition to the Tomb Raider series.

Does it bring down the game any? Well kinda, because with all the exploring you do you’d think you’d find MORE treasure then other stuff. Amongst the collectibles for the game you can find journal snip-its (the character development device I mentioned earlier), GPS distress beacons, some treasure, maps, and challenges designated to a particular part of the map. In all honesty with all the collecting you do you’ll find more crap then you do treasure. Even with the treasure you do find some of it is old toys or junk basically washed up on shore from the other ships that wrecked there. Now SURE it adds to the story of the island and does add depth to the atmosphere, but sometimes it’s like I just climbed 7 stories and solved a platform puzzle for this crap?! Now don’t get me wrong, it helps give you massive amounts of experience points to add points to Lara’s RPG system, but if it weren’t for that it would have made the experience a little irritating.

The graphics are stunning. The constant change in the weather adds depth to the current mood of the story. The lighting is beautiful, even though the rare glitches ruin the immersion. The rain effect gives the island a soothing wet feel during the beginning of the game which is really fuckin’ cool. Lara’s clothes even look completely soaked and when she starts shivering and shaking you kinda feel sorry for her. Even the loading doesn’t really disrupt the flow of the atmosphere or story. Also the death cut scenes are some of the grossest I’ve seen in a long time, and I’ve played Manhunt. This, despite late in the life of the system, really shows of the power of the Playstation 3.

The game play is great, with a few exceptions. The jumping and climbing is rather smooth. Although she seems sluggish sometimes when she runs. It’s more like a light jog then running. Most of the time the jumping and aerobatic display of the adventure is almost hypnotic. The tense moments really come in when jumping from edge to edge and it’s a fun thrill. The shifting thought inventory is on the screen is really smooth rather then going to a sub-menu, which is nice.

Also the RPG style of upgrades is rather neat. For every abandon piece of hardware you find, and scavenge, you can build better weapons. And for everything you discover or how you kill your enemies you get more XP. However it lets you max out everything while still feeling a little helpless. There are some areas that if you go too far into and start a fight it doesn’t matter what level you and your weapon are: you are going to die. Also since the villains can call more people to attack you as well then it adds to some realism in the fights.

However certain aspects don’t seem fully developed yet. Like the problems with some of climbing is that it seems like she should be more able when she still has some draw backs. First off she can’t free form climb (i.e. without the aid of something). Secondly there’s a special colored board that helps her jump up to a higher ledge. It protrudes from the wall by a complete inch or more. Anyway one would think that she could grab on to it by the sides and it would help pull herself up it, but she doesn’t for whatever reason. Another thing that holds her back from being a amazing display of aerobics is the awkward environment. Multiple times I’ve run across a house or stone and could climb up it on one side, but on the other side was completely impassible. This wouldn’t normally be a issue except the surroundings were completely the same. It was level on both sides. The surface was the same on both sides. There wasn’t any reason I shouldn’t have been able to climb up it.

The glitches in this game are completely forgivable, but ruin the submersion. There are a few quick glitches and then others that LINGER. I’ll give you a example, a few quick glitches I’ve run into are mostly from the fighting. Sometimes it looks like Laura’s hand goes through the bad guy or the weapon she uses hangs above them, before the moment of striking them and then goes back to letting you have control of Lara again. Or her lower body will move and her upper body will be stuck in the reload animation of her gun. Another was that there’s one collectible near a mountain cliff on top of a roof of a small building. When I picked it up she did a backflip THROUGH the top of the building to the ground, was temporarily upside down, and when I pushed forward to walk it fixed itself. The bigger glitches are usually aerial. One time, when it was during the heavy storm part of the game it stopped raining, for hours. Then another time I was near one of the older bunkers and the inner lighting of the area looked like it was daylight. However when I climbed to the top the MOON was out and everything else was dark. It was just weird.

This is a quality single player game. The multiplayer is great, but limited due to the fact that it feels like you’re playing a 3rd person Counter Strike game with a unbalanced RPG system of upgrades. The graphics are some of the best I’ve ever seen and add to the immersion of the game’s atmosphere. This is probably the best relauch I’ve ever played and makes many of the other Tomb Raider games look weak in compairson. Buy this game if you love adventure games

9.0/10

9.6/10 – IMDB

87/100 – Metacritic – Critic Score

8.6/10 – Metacritic – User Score

EDIT April 1, 2013 at 3:09 am

I was going to post more, but I wrote it for 3 days and then got heavily involved in another game. So I might add more later.

I figured out what I wanted to add. This game has terrible sound. It only has two options: one for sound and fx and one for music. In the cut-scenes Lara damn near whispers everything, just like during game play. So either you turn it up and risk getting a ear-sploshion and if you don’t you’ll miss a good part of the story. If you don’t you’ll at least save yourself some defining explosions.