Archive | Video Games


RAGE Video Game Review

Posted on April 12, 2012 by

RAGE kind of came out of nowhere for me. I wasn’t keeping up with it in the release schedules and didn’t know what to expect from it particularly. I don’t think we’d have picked it up if my wife hadn’t played a little at a trade show. Generally speaking FPS shooters aren’t our cup of tea on consoles since we came up playing them on the PC and console controls just don’t feel as accurate or useful.

RAGE is a weird sort of game, it’s sort of on the opposite end of the FPS/RPG scale from Fallout. Where Fallout is an RPG with some FPS elements tacked on, RAGE is more of an FPS with a few RPG elements tacked on. It’s not as RPG oriented as – say – borderlands but that’s probably the game to which it bears the closest comparison.

Monica Valentinelli

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review

Posted on March 29, 2012 by

I have had a long, sordid relationship with the Final Fantasy franchise. While I haven’t played every game, I have played most of them. When you play Final Fantasy, there are certain elements that you come to expect: cactaurs, chocobos, moogles, summoning, and BIG GIANT SWORDS. Final Fantasy XII began to stray from the iconic characters found in the property with its attention to new mechanics and a more realistic art style heavily inspired by the steampunk genre.

Final Fantasy XIII further deviated from the heart of the franchise. Though it did offer eidolons (one per character) this far-flung futuristic story jarred a lot of fans who hadn’t seen Square Enix dive that heavily into science fiction since the days of Cloud and Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII.

Monica Valentinelli

Neverwinter Nights on Facebook Review

Posted on October 10, 2011 by

One of the cool things about “new” media is a company’s ability to bridge the gap between paper and pencils with technology. Neverwinter Nights on Facebook is a social game you can play.

The first thing you do is roll stats. There’s no character class, but this min/maxer (That’s right.. Me…) rolled a few times until I got… Well… Some decent stats. The game didn’t work on Chrome so off to Firefox I go… That’s where I found out that punctuation doesn’t work in the character name field. I have an elf name I often use (Lazy, I know, I know…) but the apostrophe didn’t take.

Monica Valentinelli

Warhammer 40k Space Marine PS3 Review

Posted on September 26, 2011 by

Warhammer 40,000: SpaceMarine is a game that debuted for the PS3 (and other platforms). While I’m familiar with Games Workshop, I am new to to the Warhammer universe. I feel that’s important to keep in mind when you’re reading my review.

Part of the reason why I’ve never played Warhammer or read the fiction was because my impression was that I wasn’t really the target market for this setting. It has always felt very male-dominated and macho to me. Even though I felt that way, I always gave the property a healthy amount of respect. I consider the Warhammer SpaceMarine to be the original. Period.

Monica Valentinelli

Dragon Age 2 (PS3) Review

Posted on April 27, 2011 by

Before I get into my review of Dragon Age 2, I’d like to put my thoughts into context for you. I’m a fan of the games that BioWare puts out and I enjoy the mechanics. Primarily, I play RPG style video games to relax and to shut my brain off. It’s increasing harder for me to watch movies, for example, and do nothing else. Playing games like Dragon Age: Origins allows me to turn off the brain-neuron connection switch and have fun.

Mind you, I am a min/maxer… There. My secret is out. Phew!

Anyway, when I get into a video game, I’m looking at it as a casual experience with the ability to cheat modify my characters in a way that gives me better flexibility and playing style. Story is important to me, but for some games *coughs Final Fantasy XII* I get confused if there’s no recap or summary after the side quests portion.


Heavy Rain PS3 Review

Posted on March 8, 2011 by

I didn’t buy Heavy Rain when it came out, largely because it was described by many as, essentially, being one huge eight-hour long quicktime event. Me and quicktime events have never gotten on since I first played Dragon’s Lair, on one of those huge, laserdisc arcade machines and died, horribly, many times. I have serious issues with authority and when there’s ‘one right way’ to do something, whether it be in a game or in real life, I rail against it and get bloody annoyed. Heavy Rain, then, seemed to me to be a nightmarish game which would be the total opposite of anything I might ever want to play, however innovative, however artistic and hower stylishly French it might be.

I was wrong.

Not completely wrong, but I was wrong.


Demon’s Souls PS3 Review

Posted on January 28, 2011 by

Demon’s Souls is a western-looking but Japanese made ‘RPG’ – in the loosest sense of the word – which has become somewhat notorious, even legendary, for its ‘challenging’ difficulty and it’s old-school ‘hardcore’ sensibilities. Something which has made it a bit of a hit with ‘hardcore’ gamers.

This view of the game is horseshit, based on false nostalgia and a failure to recognize that things are a damn sight better these days and that technology has taken us beyond the conditions that made old-school games, necessarily, difficult.

A mysterious fog has enveloped a kingdom and all word from within has been cut off. The greatest heroes and adventurers from beyond this land have ventured into this fog and none have returned. Being a masochistic dipshit who can’t take a hint like any reasonable person, you’ve followed them into the fog only to be annihilated in turn by a giant demon and waking up, a lost soul, in a weird cathedral like space called The Nexus where, it turns out, you have to venture forth as a sort of ghost in order to collect enough demon souls to reincarnate and take on the forces of evil lurking in the fog.


Red Dead Redemption (PS3) Review

Posted on December 22, 2010 by

Red Dead Redemption could easily also be called ‘Grand Theft Horse’, it’s a freeroaming sandbox game in the style of the GTA series and by the same company with much of the same humour, cynicism and cinematic eye that those games have. The game is set at the very end of the ‘Old West’ in one of the last remaining frontiers, just as the government and other forces are making a concerted effort to finally civilise the area and bring it under the heel of proper governance. Meanwhile, in the south, Mexico is thrown into the chaos of a revolution…

You are John Marston, a former outlaw who has been trying to make a new life for himself as a chicken-scratch farmer, though he has no talent for it. With a wife and son to be used as leverage against him, Marston is manipulated into tracking down his old gang, members of which can still be found in the area that the government is trying to control.


Enslaved Odyssey to the West (PS3) Review

Posted on December 14, 2010 by

Enslaved is a post-apocalyptic re-telling of the classic Chinese tale ‘Journey to the West’. It spins off from the original tale significantly but still retains a great deal of the character and themes of the original, even though the main theme – redeeming a chaotic land by finding missing enlightenment – is one of the casualties (or at least ends up transmuted into something else). It’s a gorgeous game, with very few niggles, which seems to have – unfortunately – gone relatively unnoticed around a lot of higher profile releases.

The game opens with you, Monkey, trapped inside a prison cell by slavers. Your prison is an egg-shaped metal orb – a nod to the origins of monkey – and as you languish helplessly in your prison, things start to go wrong all around you. The slaver prison – which turns out to be a flying ship – starts to explode and fall apart and its a race against time to get to the rapidly depleting number of escape pods.


Valkyria Chronicles (PS3) Review

Posted on November 30, 2010 by

Valkyria Chronicles is a squad oriented, turn-based strategy game with a big narrative emphasis and a strong anime style. It’s daring in some ways in its narrative, but not quite daring enough. Regardless, it’s an engaging game and well worth sitting through the cut-scenes for.

Valkyria takes place in an alternative Europe and an alternative World War II. In this world your small nation, which seems to be an analogue for Holland or Belgium, is independent of the two opposed forces which are beginning their clash across this world’s Europe. Your nation, Gallia, is invaded by the Imperial Alliance in a blitzkreig and Gallia’s citizen soldiers – including your team – are rapidly deployed to try and blunt the advance and secure Gallian independence from both the Imperials and the overtures of their enemies, the Atlantic Federation, a force that isn’t above being manipulative and underhanded in their prosecution of war either.


Fallout New Vegas (PS3) Review

Posted on November 16, 2010 by

Fallout 3 was a giant, radioactive monster of a game, an awesome game that was SO awesome that we could forgive it many of its flaws and drawbacks simply because the awesomeness factor was so strong that they didn’t matter. We didn’t CARE if the game crashed the console every so often or if you couldn’t get to the boat to Point Lookout because the level wouldn’t load properly, because we wanted to play so very much it gave us boners that could double as battering rams. We forgave it its sins.

Second time around we, or at least I, are not as liable to be so forgiving. Especially if many of the flaws and errors of the game are the same ones that dogged our experience with Fallout 3. We sort of expect them to be fixed or, at least, for the same flaws, errors and bugs not to show up this time around, given that they were patched in Fallout 3 and that this is a ‘whole new game’ which has had more time to finesse the engine and iron out the issues.


The Last Remnant (X-Box 360) Review

Posted on August 24, 2010 by

The Last Remnant is a tactical RPG by Square-Enix and that comes with a weight of expectation. Last Remnant doesn’t disappoint on these stakes, though it is a little unpolished. Coming out of playing through Final Fantasy XIII this game feels like a dry run in many ways, the theme of powerful, unknowable machines and whether they’re being used or using the people around them and, system-wise, taking a great deal of control away from the player and putting it in the hands of automation.


Final Fantasy XIII Review

Posted on July 23, 2010 by

Unlucky for some, Final Fantasy XIII is the first proper third-gen installment in the Final Fantasy series and it’s a divisive one that’s been the cause of some controvery. It’s a big departure from the previous games in the series and from many of the gameplay conventions of JRPGs and RPGs in general. It’s also virtually incomprehensible and requires a big investment of time to get to the full ‘whack’ of the game.


Darkvoid (PS3) Review

Posted on July 16, 2010 by

If you’re a fan of the pulps then the prospect of a decent rocket-pack game set in the 1930s will have you squeeing with glee. Indeed I can’t remember a rocket pack game since the Atari ST and so, despite all the reviews warning about Darkvoid I caved in and purchased it – albeit preowned for only a tenner. Unfortunately, this isn’t the game pulp fans have been waiting for though there are the seeds of a potential, good pulp or rocket-pack game contained within this disappointing effort.

While Darkvoid does have a story it’s something of a confused mix of David Icke lizard-conspiracy, fascism, Bermuda Triangle disappearances and vague mysticism.


Damnation (PS3) Review

Posted on July 6, 2010 by

I’m a sucker for pulp and I’m a sucker for steampunk. These are factors which often lead me to buy things, read things and play things that I’m otherwise not so sure about. Sometimes that leads me to find hidden gems, sometimes it means I play awful games because I’ve been suckered in by a love of genre. Damnation falls somewhere in the middle, in no way is it as much of a disappointment as Dark Void was but it’s still a little confused and doesn’t shine like it could.

In this world the American Civil War went on for much longer than in real history and ended up smashing the USA into numerous different, smaller states.


Bioshock 2 Game Review

Posted on May 12, 2010 by

As a sequel to Bioshock, one of the best story-shooters to have come out in recent years, Bioshock 2 had a lot to live up to. A good combination of biting political satire, excellent gameplay and superb atmosphere the original Bioshock set a standard almost impossibly high to meet and, while Bioshock 2 makes an heroic effort to equal its predecessor, it falls somewhat short of equaling that goal.

Eight years after the events of Bioshock where Andrew Ryan, the founder of Rapture (the undersea city where Bioshock is set) a psychologist, Doctor Sofia Lamb, has taken over the city, winning the civil war that has taken place between the factions in the fractured city. In contrast to Andrew Ryan’s ‘Objectivist’ outlook, modeled on Ayn Rand’s adolescent philosophy of selfishness, Sofia Lamb presents a sort of biological/psychological Communism as an alternative for the dispossessed and lost of Ryan’s utopia.


Mass Effect 2 Game Review

Posted on April 22, 2010 by

Another sequel and another one with a lot to live up to. Mass Effect 2 was, somewhat, overshadowed by the release of the hotly anticipated Dragon Age: Origins. While ME2 is a solid sequel much as with my review of Bioshock 2 I felt a sense of mild disappointment – not that this stopped me playing it all the way through quite rapidly. ME2 is a solid game and is, in my opinion, superior to the more lauded and praised Dragon Age, perhaps due to the fact that Science Fiction is a more free and wide-ranging genre without the similar sort of strictures and expectations – even demands – that the fantasy genre has.

The game opens with a hell of a kicker, the Normandy investigating missing vessels and encountering an enormous and deadly vessels that cuts clean through her defenses and destroys the ship, including – apparently – killing Shepherd, the main character. Given that you’ve just imported your old game details that’s a bit of a fright. Fortunately, that’s not the end of it.


Borderlands (PS3) Review

Posted on January 28, 2010 by

The story is a bit of a casualty to the mission structure and game play to start with, though threads emerge and little plot arcs with the various ‘quest givers’ do emerge. The information about Pandora is there to understand its background but you really have to pay attention as you whisk through the missions to really get an idea of what happened.

Pandora was a mining world run by one of the big interstellar corporations until they decided to pull out. In so doing they left behind a bunch of convict workers and everyone who couldn’t afford to get off world. The injured, the perverse and those who simply enjoyed exploiting a frontier planet. Stories about the vault have brought other mercenaries here, along with members of larger mercenary forces, ostensibly there to keep the peace. A job they fail at.


Dragon Age: Origins (PS3) Review

Posted on December 18, 2009 by

This review is unlikely to be of a great deal of use to most people who will have seen the word ‘Bioware’ associated with it, ignored the EA also associated with it, had a happy accident in their pants and bought it anyway. For those of you who’ve been a little bit slower off the mark or have hung back unsure whether to buy it, without having the money spare or who are curious without being curious enough to spend money, hopefully this will offer something useful.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Dragon Age: Origins is the kick off of a new CRPG franchise for Bioware, divorced from their D&D associations (Baldur’s Gate) and that of their old game engine. Dragon’s Age has been sold as a glorious, sexy, blood-spattered romp that tears down preconceptions about fantasy games and worlds, plays about with them and offers a more mature and visceral entertainment ‘sausage’ at the end of it all.


Ghostbusters: the Video Game Review

Posted on June 29, 2009 by

What do you get when you take one of the most popular comedy franchises ever, bring back the original writers and actors who made it so great, and have the original writers come up with a new script tying it all together?

You get Ghostbusters: the Video Game, of course.

Ghostbusters: TVG had been plagued from developmental issues from the start. Passing from publisher to publisher, the game faced cancellation several times despite promising trailers. Eventually managing to be released by Atari, this game features voice acting from the original cast. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson reprise their roles as the classic supernatural investigators and eliminators.

Review by John D. Kennedy


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