Tag Archives: Stealth

Horizon Zero Dawn (PlayStation 4)

Developer(s) – Guerrilla Games

Publisher(s) – Sony Interactive Entertainment

Director(s) – Mathis de Jonge

Producer(s) – Lambert Wolterbeek Muller

Developed by Guerrilla Games and being six years in the making, Horizon Zero Dawn is an open world action adventure game, which relies heavily on creativity in battle, and present a very stern challenge similar to games of the same ilk like Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Assassin’s Creed. Personally, I was blown away by how great this game is. I had high expectations of it in the first place, but it did exceptional well to surpass those expectations, and deliver one of the best gaming experiences of the eighth generation.

Graphics – 10/10

The game’s visuals are phenomenal from both a technical and conceptual perspective. The level of detail is unlike anything I’ve ever seen on even the PlayStation 4, which is saying a lot since I’ve played a great deal of technically marvellous games on the system like InFamous: Second Son and Killzone: Shadow Fall. But more impressive than this, the game’s universe is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic earth whereby humanity has regressed to prehistoric culture, but the wild is infested with dangerous robotic animals made with technology that was widespread before the events of the game. The world in this title is extremely impressive to look at, and to me, it sets a new standard within the industry in terms of cutting edge graphics.

Gameplay – 8.5/10

Outside the main story and various side quests, The object of the game is to hunt animals around the world in order to develop the character, and to discover new materials used to upgrade equipment, weapons and storage capacity. There is a great freedom to be had in terms of choice of how to approach combat; the player can choose to take a more stealthy approach and use environmental hazards to subdue enemies without being detected, or they may choose to take the less subtle route, and go in all guns blazing. Upgrades provide the player with new abilities to assist them whilst taking all these different approaches towards combat. Morality mechanics also play a part in the game similar to Mass Effect whereby the decisions the player makes effects the outcome of the story, and player’s influence over NPCs. Whilst it’s a little bare compared to some other open world game, which is ultimately why I would have to place Breath of the Wild above it when comparing the two games, there is still a great deal of things to do within the game that will keep players entertained for an extraordinary amount of time.

Controls – 10/10

In terms of controls, the game doesn’t exactly re-invent the wheel. However, there are no unnecessary frustrations to be experienced with the control scheme, so it is deserved of a perfect score in this aspect. It’s also quire clever how the developers were able to implement the mechanic of scanning enemies and environments in order to assist players in how they choose to approach the situation, despite the fact that it isn’t the first game of it’s kind to implement such a feature.

Lifespan – 9/10

With plenty to do throughout the game beyond the main story, it can be easily made to last at least 60 hours. It’s actually quite surprising to me that a game of this level of technical innovation can encompass an open world of this size. I was impressed with how Far Cry 4 was able to accomplish a similar feat to this, but this game goes far beyond what the latter was capable of.

Storyline – 9/10

The story of the games follows a young hunter named Aloy, who has been shunned her entire life as an outcast to every other tribe situated throughout her homelands. As she has grown up, she sets out to prove herself as a member of the Nora tribe. But she soon discovers that she is only part of a greater destiny, and so she sets out to uncover it, and to also uncover the history of her world. Horizon Zero Dawn is very much a coming of age story reminiscent of a lot of Studio Ghibli films, and goes beyond that of a typical story found in many open world games. It’s immersing, emotionally charged and deals with the wonders and complications of a young woman trying to find her way in the world. Watching the development of Aloy’s character, in particular was a pleasure from beginning to end.

Originality – 8/10

The game is definitely more evolutionary than revolutionary. It’s not the first game of it’s kind to do many of the things that it doesn’t, but it does do them bigger, and all at once, one-upping the likes of Shadow of Mordor in my opinion. Where it truly stands out is in aspects such as it’s conceptual design, and variety in combat, which makes me feel re-assured that innovation is not just happening within in the indie industry, but also the mainstream scene as well.

Deliirious

Overall Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the best games of 2017, and unanimously my favourite PlayStation 4 exclusive so far. I’ve been impressed with many others such as InFamous: Second Son, InFamous: First Light and The Last Guardian, but to me, this game surpasses them all, making for a better IP than Killzone ever was.

Score

54.5/60

9/10 (Excellent)

Dishonored 2 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC)

Developer(s) – Arkane Studios

Publisher(s) – Bethesda

Director – Harvey Smith

Designer – Dinga Bakaba

Developed primarily at Arkane Studio’s Lyon branch, and released in late 2016, Dishonored 2 was released later last year to critical acclaim, with player and reviewers citing major improvements made over the first game; most of which concerning the game’s difficulty, as many players opinionated that the last game seemed too easy. Personally, I agree that the sequel is better than the original game in almost every respect, and whilst the gameplay wasn’t structured as well as I believe a Dishonored game has the potential to be, it was more than a worthy sequel.

Graphics – 9/10

Taking place in a new city away from Dunwall known as Karnaca, there are many new aspects of conceptual design added to expand upon the series’ mythology, as well as an overhaul of graphical quality, making the game just as compelling and wonderful too look at as the first game; if not, more so. There are new machines to have to contend with besides the tall boys, and a new set of city streets and buildings to navigate through and discover new secrets and vantage points. The second game also seems even darker than the original, giving it more of a gritty feel to it appropriate for the feel of the story. The setting of the Void is where this aspect of the game seems most prevalent as the Outsider is also portrayed as a much darker character in himself.

Gameplay – 9.5/10

This time round, the player is given the option to select from two characters from the start of the game, both with their own unique set of abilities; there’s Corvo Attano, the protagonist of the original game and the empresses royal protector, or Emily Kaldwin, the empress of Dunwall. The game itself is also structured very similarly to the last, taking place in a semi-open world and offering players the option to either take a stealthy approach or run rampant and kill every enemy standing in the way. The game also presents the option of going the duration of it without killing a single person. The best thing about this game is that the character choice not only offers a new dimension of gameplay with so many new powers and options to experiment with, but it also gives it even more replay value than the first, warranting at least four different playthroughs. So even though it didn’t offer a completely open world, which I think can be implemented very easily in a game like this, there is plenty of replayability to be had making for a fairly long gaming experience.

Controls – 10/10

As with the previous game, there are no issues with its control scheme, despite the fact that there are more options and abilities available. It’s actually quite impressive how the developers have managed to incorporate so many new features whilst at the same time keeping the fundamentals of the game to a perfect standard. Keeping a control scheme unique in a gameplay perspective that has also taken and maintained prominence throughout the industry for almost twenty years also makes it seem even more impressive in my opinion.

Lifespan – 7/10

Each individual playthrough lasts about as long as it did in the first game, clocking in at around 20-25 hours, which for me, was mildly disappointing, as a game like this can have a campaign that can be easily made to last longer. However, the game’s lifespan is in its potential replay value, of which there is a great deal of for those willing to delve deeper into the game. So whilst it may not have the lifespan that a Dishonored game could have, it still has a great of longevity attached to it, and will make for hours upon hours of entertainment.

Storyline – 7/10

The sequel to Dishonored takes place fifteen years following the events of the original game. Whilst Emily Kaldwin has long since been installed as the rightful empress of the city of Dunwall thanks to Corvo, the empire has prospered, but it has not been without challenge. A serial murderer knows as the Crown Killer is murdering enemies of the state left, right and centre, and has led many in Dunwall to believe the Crown Killer is Emily herself. Whilst Corvo and Emily are attending a remembrance ceremony for Emily’s mother Jessamine, a powerful witch named Delilah Copperspoon is introduced to Emily, and claims to be her older half-sister and rightful heir to the empire. Whichever character the player chooses at this point manages to escape Dunwall, whilst the other is subdued by Delilah, who usurps the throne, and the player character is tasked with putting an end to Delilah’s regime and rescuing either Corvo or Emily depending on the character’s choice. Whilst I thought the game’s story was not as suspenseful as the last, since there is not as much of a elaborate twist to it, it still has the same level of political intrigue, and just as much emotional charge; especially as this time round, Corvo is given a voice as opposed to being confined to the role of the silent protagonist.

Originality – 7.5/10

Though the structure of the game remains relatively the same as it’s predecessor, the formula is kept fresh enough with the introduction of so many new features and abilities added. It’s most definitely evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary, expanding on what was already good about the first game with the exception of the story. In my opinion, it does still leave room for both improvement and development in the event of a possible third game, but having played through both, I would welcome a third with open arms. The second game cemented the fact that both the concept and mythology behind the series is more than worth further expanding upon still.

Happii

Overall, Dishonored 2, whilst not being exactly the sequel I had hoped it would be, still present massive improvement upon the first game. It’s enjoyable and lengthy with a decent story, and plenty of gameplay options to match; well worth one playthrough at the bare least.

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Styx: Master of Shadows (PC, PlayStation 4 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – Cyanide Studios

Publisher(s) – Focus Home Interactive

Taking place in a dark and gritty medieval fantasy setting, Styx is a 3D platforming stealth game, with a few thorough espionage mechanics, and somewhat of a quirky sense of humour. However, the same problems arose in this game that I have found in many other stealth games since; as well as a few other problems.

Graphics – 6.5/10

Firstly, the best thing about the game’s presentation is in its atmosphere. Everything is extremely dark and gloomy, which is even used to the player’s advantage in order to remain undetected from enemies. However, the game runs on Unreal Engine 3, which makes it look outdated compared to even late games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3; defeating the entire object of porting it to eighth generation consoles. In terms of it’s general conceptual design, it’s about as original as Dark Souls II was; particularly typical of what a medieval setting should be, having no truly outstanding elements to it.

Gameplay – 5/10

The gameplay, in my opinion, is even less enjoyable. Aside from the few half-decent stealth mechanics of being able to put out fires to better hide from enemies, using sand as a projectile and the few magic abilities at player’s disposal, I found the main problem with it was how many times I found myself resetting the game in order to pass certain areas undiscovered. Since there’s also a very intermittent auto-save mechanic, it made playing through even more unnecessarily complicated.

Controls – 8/10

The control scheme of this game is extremely reminiscent of that of Blood Omen 2. Movement is somewhat stiff, and it can be gratuitously hard to perform certain commands, such as climbing and strafing. In particular, the carpet on which Styx must land on in order to soften the sound of his fall towards the beginning of the game is very clumsily placed. I assume that it was done that way to add to the challenge, but even if the landing is softened, it’s too easy for the guard to spot the player afterwards; thus, compelling the player to once again reload the game an undetermined amount of times.

Lifespan – 7/10

For a 3D platformer, the length at which this game lasts is passable, coming in at roughly 16 hours, which will provide a fairly long experience for those willing to look past the qualms I have with it. It doesn’t have the open world factor, which has made many classic 3D platformers last for exceptional amounts of time, but for a linear game, that is fairly impressive. The concern after that would be whether or not if the player can spend as less time having to reset the game as possible in order to not add to the game’s lifespan for the wrong reason.

Storyline – 6/10

The story follows a master goblin thief called Styx, who is on a quest to steal the heart of a World Tree within the Tower of Akenash. The best things about the narrative are the occasional wisecracks that Styx comes out with, as well as his own narrating of the events that unfold throughout the game. Though it concerns the concept of the protagonist coming of age to a certain extent, there have been a few games to come along over the years to present that scenario better than this, such as Ocarina of Time, Ni No Kuni and the original Fable.

Originality – 4/10

As both a 3D platformer and a stealth game, it doesn’t bring a great deal new to either genre. If anything, judging by the game’s control scheme, I actually saw it largely as a step back from many of the innovations that have been made concerning both categories of game in the last ten years. There have been many more stealth mechanics introduced in many more games, which the developers neglected to either implement or work upon, it would seem, and whilst they may have designed to be evolutionary as opposed to it being revolutionary, they failed to execute that in my opinion.

Niiutral

Niiutral

Overall, whilst Styx isn’t entirely god-awful, it’s certainly no game of the year contender; for this year or the last. It has a good few problems that could’ve done with a coat of looking at before release, and wasn’t the best start to Cyanide Studio’s venture outside the plethora of sports games they have developed over the years.

Score

36.5/60

6/10 (Average)

Sly 3: Honour Among Thieves (PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 & PlayStation Vita)

Developer(s) – Sucker Punch Productions

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment

Taking place some time after the events of Sly 2: Band of Thieves, the third Sly game kept to the core mechanics of the previous instalment, but also presented a few changes to it as well. In my opinion, those changes were made for the worse, since it took away much of what made the second game as exceptional as it was, and I was left pretty disappointed by it.

Graphics – 8.5/10

The one thing the developers didn’t take away at least was the exceptionally great cel-shaded style of the visuals, and outlandish conceptual take on the modern world filled with plenty of anthropomorphic animals. The settings are also as wonderfully diverse as they were in the previous game, taking place in various different parts of the world ranging from Venice to Yuendumu to Kinderdijk. It also features an interesting blend of old and new supporting characters from both the first and the second game at add more to the story element.

Gameplay – 4/10

As I mentioned, Sly 3 sticks to the same core concept as Sly 2; the player must travel from city to city advancing the plot and using stealth mechanics and a range of different abilities to overcome a multitude of different perilous situations the characters find themselves in everywhere they go; with the added feature of some new characters to control. The problem being is that many of the side quests that made the second game as immersing as it was were substituted for side quests, which have the player redoing certain challenges found throughout the story, but having to fulfil additional criteria, such as doing them in a certain amount of time etc. To me, whilst many there consider it to be better than the second game, it was a massive step down in my opinion. It demonstrated a lack of imagination on the developer’s part; especially when I think of all the imagination that went into Sly 2, and how much it was a genuine improvement on the first game.

Controls – 10/10

Since the game runs on the same core principles as both the first and the second, the control scheme hasn’t changed, and thus the developers didn’t took it upon themselves to try and fix something that wasn’t broken. The controls are as wonderfully fluent as many of the greatest 3D platformers to have ever been developed over the years, and regardless of what instalment may be coming under review, the stealth mechanics make them stand out greatly.

Lifespan – 3/10

Clocking in at a mere 9 hours on average, this is yet another reason why I view this game as being a drastic step down from its predecessor. The second game could easily be made to last around 20 to 25 hours with everything that there was to do outside the main story quests, but since the side quests are different, I think many gamers will have inevitably disinclined to undertake the side quests upon discovery of what they are; as indeed I was.

Storyline – 8/10

Set one year after Sly 2, Sly Cooper, along with his colleagues Bentley and Murray, as well as a plethora of new allies, venture out to seek the fabled Cooper Vault reputed to hold a vast amount of heirlooms collected by Sly’s descendants over the years. Personally, the ending of Sly 2 blew me away, but Sly 3 continued that level of character development, and built upon it even further. For a game series that started by relying on a strong element of comedy, I never thought I would be able to take it as seriously as I ended up being able to.

Originality – 4/10

To me, because the developers took away a lot of the elements that helped to take the Sly series to the next level, there is considerably less originality about the third game. They did try something new with the inclusion of more than three playable characters, a concept that would carry on into the fourth game, but to me, it meant considerably less than what it could have potentially meant if the developers had chosen to handle the side quests in a fashion more reminiscent of Sly 2. I think Sanzaru took this on board whilst developing Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, and I’m glad they changed as much from this game as they did.

Niiutral

Niiutral

In summation, Sly 3, in my opinion, is so much less than what it could have been had the developers not decide to make as many negative changes as they did following Sly 2. Even though the original game had less substance, I think the developers misused what substance they added to the third, making it worse; a classic case of quantity over quality.

Score

37.5/60

6/10 (Average)

Sly Cooper & the Thievius Raccoonus (PlayStation 2 & PlayStation 3)

Developer – Sucker Punch Productions

Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment

The Sly Cooper series first appeared in 2002 on the PlayStation 2; around the time when Sony started to find much greater success with developing 3D platforming games than they had done previously with the original PlayStation; having released games such as Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank. Whilst sales of the game were pretty poor during the time of its release, the game has become a cult classic among gamers and has warranted the development of three sequels. Though I don’t believe the first to be the best (Indeed, I believe that honour goes to Sly 2: Band of thieves), I don’t think it’s a terrible game; it just needed an extra push, and I think the developers saved that for the sequel.

Graphics – 8/10

Relating to Week 4’s unique article, Sly Cooper was released at a time when cel-shading was first being established as a popular form of visual representation in video games; so consequently, this game was always going to stand out. At the time, it was an extremely significant change from the norm, and it also made for a number of compelling level designs as well as character designs. Although some of the bosses look a little bit bland, the last boss in particular was very well designed, and the main character cast equally so. Looking at some of the levels, which are set on rooftops, it’s also plain to see where the developers took inspiration from when they were creating InFamous. Though this would become even more evident in the sequel and onwards, the opening level of the first game alone is enough for players to make this assumption.

Gameplay – 5.5/10

Sly Cooper & the Thievius Raccoonus is a 3D platforming game with stealth elements reminiscent of games like Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell. But even with this somewhat unique aspect of gameplay, I still felt playing it left a lot to be desired. There are so little side quests that completing the game to 100% can simply be done as the player goes along as normal, and there’s not much call for re-visiting levels, save for completing the time trial challenges. In this respect, it reminds me a lot of the third Crash Bandicoot game, Warped; only with less content and fewer side quests. There is a bit of incentive to playing the game to 100%, however, in the form of additional abilities, such as running faster or invisibility. The game also has a bit of variety in that respect too.

Controls – 10/10

At least in terms of controls, there are no problems. Sucker Punch had found critical success before Sly Cooper with their first game; another debatably unfairly obscure game for the Nintendo 64 called Rocket: Robot on Wheels. So that there’d be no problems with the controls would have been expected; especially taking into account the elaborately challenging nature of Sucker Punch’s first game, released back in 1999.

Lifespan – 4/10

Unfortunately, even completing the game to 100% can take players less than 10 hours, which compared with other platformers, especially at the time, is nothing. With games like Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank came more content and substance in gameplay, and I found that the original Sly Cooper game severely lacked that, and by that token, it would seem to me no wonder why the first game couldn’t compete with games such as the two aforementioned examples.

Storyline – 7.5/10

The game’s story is just about as simple in general concept, and as crazy in design as many other video gaming franchises before it; but I found that it wouldn’t really be greatly expanded on or elaborated on until the next game. The plot follows an anthropomorphic raccoon thief called Sly Cooper, who along with his two closest friends, a turtle called Bentley and a hippo called Murray, set out to recover missing pages from the book passed down from generation to generation of Sly’s family; the Thievius Raccoonus. Overall, the game’s story is okay, but it only starts to get most interesting towards the end, and I don’t think there was enough added to keep it overly compelling. At least the story is simple enough to not create any confusion, I guess. I believe it to be the worst-case scenario when games or films become so convoluted that they become nigh on impossible to follow.

Originality – 5/10

Although the game would inevitably be considered unique in terms of visuals, it’s by little means unique in terms of gameplay. The only unique gameplay mechanics was the stealth element, which would again, be more elaborated on with future instalments.

Niiutral

Niiutral

Overall, the original Sly Cooper game isn’t an overly terrible game; it was a simple case of trial and error. Only compared to future games in the series, as well as other games around at the time, it seems to me that it was extremely obvious that it was a case of trial and error.

Score

40/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)  

Mark of the Ninja (PC &Xbox 360)

Developer(s) – Klei Entertainment

Publisher(s) – Microsoft Studios

Mark of the Ninja is an indie 2D platformer, with a strong element of stealth, and using weapons and equipment to the keep the player hidden from the enemy as opposed to attacking them head-on. This game is an incredibly unique experience for many reasons, and to me, one of the most standout indie titles to have been developed before the recent influx of them throughout the eighth generation.

Graphics – 9/10

Very much like in their later game, Don’t Starve, the game’s visuals seem to be based on a pre-existing artistic style; in this case, that of Genndy Tartakovsky, who worked on the creation of such cartoon series’ as Dexter’s Laboratory, and most significantly, Samurai Jack. The whole thing looks like something out of Cartoon Network, but only with a much darker and grittier atmosphere. The sound effects throughout are also put to good use to maintain that atmosphere, as they are also integral to the structure of gameplay.

Gameplay – 8/10

I would best describe this game as Splinter Cell with a hint of Feudal Japan. The objective is to sneak past enemies using various different tools, weapons and environmental shortcuts and hiding places to get around. Points are awarded for remaining undetected, going through levels without killing enemies, and hiding bodies if the player does decide to kill. Light and sound sources can be used to manipulate enemy behaviour to player’s advantage, and attacking them head-on is very ill advised. It’s provides a very different take on games including ninjas, and makes for an incredibly immersing 2D side scrolling experience.

Controls – 10/10

In terms of controls, although there should never have been any real issues, the control scheme has been handled quite well. Movement is very smooth, and there are a multitude of different features that players can use to get around; a number of things unusual for a game of it’s kind.

Lifespan – 4/10

Clocking up at about 5 hours, it unfortunately lasts about as long as the average modern-day 2D side scroller, and I can’t help but think that this had been a Metroidvania game, then it would have lasted a greater amount of time longer. There was certainly more room for a greater amount of side quests in the game anyway, and I believe it’s criminal for such a unique experience to also be a very fleeting one. Klei Entertainment would go on to address this issue in Don’t Starve, but if a sequel ever does happen, then I think it would be easy to expand upon what they achieved with this game.

Storyline – 8/10

The story follows an unnamed ninja, who after awaking from an extensive irezumi tattoo, realizes his clan is under attack, and manages to save his sensei Azai, with the hep of his ally, Ora. He learns that the tattoo he has acquired affords him heightened sensory abilities, but will ultimately drive him progressively deeper into madness. The Ninjas resolve to take their revenge against the organization responsible for the attack on their clan after the ninja vows to commit seppuku once the madness starts to take hold on him. As far as the ninja archetype goes, the developers hit the nail on the head. The main character’s name is never revealed, he never speaks, he keeps his face hidden, wears navy blue attire, uses his tools for things other than attacking enemies and he does his best to preserve his stealth, and not go kill-crazy. But as far as the main story goes, it’s also very engrossing, and has a good few twists and turns before the end.

Originality – 10/10

Especially in this day and age, it’s particularly difficult to create an original game in the 2D side scrolling genre, since the formula has been long-since perfect, and long-since worked on by a multitude of big-name developers over the last 30 years. This game is perhaps one of the most unique side scrollers I’ve seen for many years now, since gameplay elements taken from newer genres add a great deal to the 2D platforming formula, making it go leaps and bounds against many other games released in the genre today.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Mark of the Ninja is an exceptional indie game, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who owns an Xbox 360. It could have been made to last longer, but I’m hoping that’s where a possible sequel may come in.

Score

49/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Fallout: New Vegas (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 & PC)

Developer(s) – Obsidian Entertainment

Publisher(s) – Bethesda Softworks & Namco Bandai Games

Director – Josh Sawyer

Producer(s) – Mikey Dowling, Matt Singh & Jason Fader

Released in the holiday season of 2010, Fallout: New Vegas, like its predecessor Fallout 3, was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, with some critics calling it the best game in the series, and going on to bring in over $300 million in revenue. Since my introduction to the series with the third game, I’ve personally had a hard time trying to get into Fallout, and whilst people may have been extremely lukewarm to this game, I unfortunately feel very differently about it.

Graphics – 5/10

The visuals, depending on which system that game may be played on, can vary from being flawless to terrible. A piece of advice I would like to give anyone who may be reading would be to avoid the PlayStation 3 version at all costs, since it suffers with severe frame rate issues as it progresses; similar to Bethesda’s Skyrim on the same console. But aside from that, there isn’t much to look at conceptually either, I find. The music creates an appropriate vibe, but as far as presentation goes, it’s far below the standards that Bethesda are known for.

Gameplay – 3/10

The quality of gameplay is even worse in my opinion, since there is a huge open world, which would bode well for a game of its kind. Unfortunately, there’s hardly anything to do in it. Towns, points of interest and side quests far too spaced out, and it can become a case of wandering around far too much looking for things to do unless the fast travel system is used to the point of excess. The enemies also seem much less varied than in Fallout 3, with raiders and oversized geckos among a couple of other mutated animals.

Controls – 10/10

The control scheme is pretty much identical to Fallout 3, so there are no problems in this respect at least. VATS can be annoyingly inaccurate at first, but once the player levels up enough, that problem generally tends to sort itself out. The Pip Boy system, again like in Fallout 3, can take a little bit of getting used to at first, but like VATS, it doesn’t remain a persistent problem.

Lifespan – 6/10

For those who find it in them to soldier on through the mostly empty wasteland of the post-apocalyptic Nevada, there are quite a few hours of entertainment to be had; even more with the inclusion of all the DLC released for it. But as I alluded to, given the fact that everything is so spaced out, other players can also be made to feel very bored very quickly, as indeed I was.

Storyline – 6/10

Set four years after the events of Fallout 3, the story involves the struggle between two factions in Nevada; the North Californian Republic and Caesar’s Legion. The two military group are warring over control of the Hoover Dam, which provides power to key areas through Nevada. The player character is a courier working for the Mojave Express, tasked with delivering a platinum chip to New Vegas, when he is then ambushed and left for dead by a mobster named Benny, who also steals the package. Saved by a robot named Victor, and brought back to health by Doc Mitchell, the courier resolves to find the stolen package and uncover the truth behind the events, as well getting revenge on his ambushers. The story was fairly well conceived, with Matthew Perry in particular, who voiced Benny, delivering a cool and composed performance that I personally would never have guessed he’d be capable of delivering.

Originality – 5/10

There isn’t a great deal of uniqueness about this title, unfortunately, since it does ultimately play out like an extension to Fallout 3, except there’s considerably less to do. For fans of the series, this won’t be viewed as that much of a problem, but to newcomers, I’d say that this game isn’t the ideal introduction to the series; or at least an introduction to the point of where Bethesda took over as publishers after Interplay.

Angrii

Angrii

In summary, Fallout: New Vegas is one of the more tedious video games I played throughout the seventh generation of gaming. Fallout 3 can take some getting used to as well, in my opinion, but in this case, boredom can very easily outlast player’s patience.

Score

35/60

5.5/10 (Below Average)

Dishonored (PC, Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3)

Developer(s) – Arkane Studios

Publisher(s) – Bethesda Softworks

Director(s) – Raphael Colantolio & Harvey Smith

Designer – Ricardo Bare

Released in the holiday season of 2012, Dishonored was a game that unfortunately and bafflingly fell through the cracks, since at the time, the game rightfully garnished many favourable reviews from critics, and would be supported with several DC expansion packs, as well as a game of the year edition. Critics have gone so far as to put this game on par with the likes of BioShock, and whilst I personally wouldn’t do that, it certainly has earned cult status, and am sure will go down as one of the most memorable gaming experiences of the seventh generation.

Graphics – 8/10

The setting of Dishonored is a futuristic dystopian city called Dunwall; which was inspired by the gothic architecture and elements of the Industrial Revolution synonymous with the Victorian era. Specifically, the cities of London and Edinburgh during the 1800s and 1900s were chosen as inspiration, as well as the works of 19th century artist, John Atkinson Grimshaw. Combined with elements of science fiction, such as the Tallboys (towering machines made from huge mechanics legs) and examples of advanced technology, it makes the city of Dunwall an extremely intriguing setting, as well as providing different atmospheres depending on how players choose to approach the game. For instance, if the player chooses to kill each prime target as opposed to publicly exposing them, the city streets will be infested with rats, and by proxy, will raise the game’s difficulty level.

Gameplay – 8.5/10

The game is a first-person stealth game with a small RPG element to it. The objective is to either kill or expose a prime target, whilst at the same time, trying to find a way to either subdue patrolling guards, or sneaking past them, using not only stealth and weaponry, but also an array of magical powers the player can earn throughout the course of the game. It’s a lot like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but it’s far more interesting, with many more ways in which to approach each individual situation, through either possessing animals to get around, or generating a swarm of rats to dispatch enemies without being detected.

Controls – 10/10

Since Bethesda had made a multitude of first-person games throughout the seventh generation, including Oblivion, Skyrim and Fallout 3, it was natural to assume that there wouldn’t be a problem with Dishonored; and so there isn’t. All the many different mechanics in the game are simple to get to grips with, despite the fact that this game works slightly differently to any of the three aforementioned examples.

Lifespan – 6/10

Clocking in at about 20-25 hours, the lifespan is one of the game’s most disappointing features, along with it’s linearity, for a great game, which could have been so much better than it turned out to be in scope. As far as the industry knows, there is a sequel on the way, which is where I hope the addressing of these issues come in, but if this aspect is indeed improved, then I cant help but think of how much of an enhancement it would be compared to the original game.

Storyline – 9/10

The story of Dishonored follows Corvo Attano; an expert assassins and personal bodyguard of the Empress of Dunwall, who is murdered on his watch by an unknown party, but is then falsely accused by the empire of her murder and imprisoned to await public execution. However, using his unrivalled abilities as an assassin and/or mastery of stealth, Corvo manages to escape from prison, and upon doing so, meets up with a coalition called the Loyalists, who are resolving to uncover the conspiracy behind the Empress’s death, and restore her daughter to the throne, and so enlist Corvo to help them do so. It’s a fantastic narrative filled with twists and turns throughout, and features the voice talents of an impressive cast, including the likes of Chloe Grace Moretz, Carrie Fisher, Lena Headey, Brad Dourif and Susan Sarandon.

Originality – 7/10

Though at this point, this kind of thing had been done before throughout the seventh generation of gaming, the gameplay in Dishonored takes on a very unique perspective, and makes it all the more memorable, and by proxy, all the more criminal that this game wasn’t given more attention at the time of it’s release. The plot makes for that much more of an immersing experience, and there’s no reason that the entire mythos could be expanded upon the release of either a sequel, or a spin-off.

Happii

Happii

In all, Dishonored is certainly a game worth trying at least once. It’s certainly one of the better stealth games I’ve ever experienced, and goes leaps and bounds ahead of many of the more mainstream releases over the 2012 holiday season.

Score

48.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Dark (PC & Xbox 360)

Developer(s) – Realmforge Studios

Publisher(s) – Kalypso Media

Director – Benjamin Rauscher

Designer – Christian Wolferstetter

Released towards the end of the second generation of gaming, and after a particularly high standard had been well and truly established for stealth games, Dark was met with heavy criticism from reviewers, with complaints commonly levied against reportedly sub-par graphics, terrible voice acting and inconsistently paced gameplay. Whilst I wasn’t quite inclined to give it the 4 out of 10 that many critics gave it upon release, I am adamant that this is a very lacklustre title, and certainly incapable of holding a candle to many of the games of it’s ilk released on either Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 prior that went above and beyond what a conventional stealth game can be.

Graphics – 6.5/10

What I like about the game’s graphics is it’s conceptual design. It has a cel-shaded visual style, as well as an extremely dark and gritty atmosphere. The heightened senses ability also presents something wonderfully outlandish, giving this game a certain charm about it. The problem is, however, that it’s largely unpolished. As I progressed through it, graphical glitches became more apparent, and it was clear that the game wasn’t yet finished. I can’t help but think that if the developers had put the finishing touched on it before releasing it to retail, or made to be more stylised than what it was, then it could have been considered something more akin to The Darkness II.

Gameplay – 6/10

I held out false hope for this game before I sat down to play it. The game is a stealth RPG, but nowhere near as I imagined it after playing the likes of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Dishonored, which to my initial surprise, both predate this game. When I saw the conversation wheel for the first time in particular, it made me hopeful that it would be a game similar to Mass Effect. But what it turned out to be was something more akin to Styx: Master of Shadows, which has considerably less variety. Dark has only fractionally more than that, I would discover to my disappointment.

Controls – 8/10

One huge problem I had with the game’s control scheme was that the controls can be unresponsive at times, which can be especially frustrating in a stealth game when players need to be able to react as fast as possible when enemies are just around the corner and the player is about to be discovered, when at the same time, a body needs to be hidden as to avoid suspicion. But the biggest problem I had with it was whilst there is an auto-save feature, save cannot be made in between, which means players must repeat entire segments if they make a mistake and wish to go through the game completely undiscovered. Playing the game like that takes fluency out of the title anyway, but it can be needless complicating for the gamers who have the patience to do so.

Lifespan – 4/10

In total, the game can only be made to last an average of 6 hours; way below par for even what other linear stealth game had been made to last before this game had been released. Even some of the best game on the Xbox 360 could only be made to last that long, but in conjunction with my own expectations of what kind of a game this was going to be, it seemed tat evermore underwhelming to me.

Storyline – 5/10

The storyline is also extremely vague and one winded; even from the very beginning. It follows a man called Eric Bane, who suddenly discovers he is a vampire. Desperate to find his creator, he allies himself with Rose, the owner of the Sanctuary club, and her associates, to pursue the path of a vampire and find his creator before it is too late, and he turns into a mindless ghoul. The voice acting is indeed very much laughable and moves at too fast a pace for anyone to be able to take it seriously. It’s nowhere near as bad as House of the Dead 2, but the dialogue does fail at everything it tries.

Originality – 2/10

The game has some basis in variety with different abilities to learn and different ways to approach combat, but a huge part of the problem is that it was released far too late. By this time, Far Cry 3 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution had turned the entire stealth genre on it’s head, and gave players some of the most memorable seventh generation experiences, and there was no way that this game could have possibly competed with them.

Angrii

Angrii

In summation, Dark, whilst it isn’t the worst seventh generation game I’ve come across, is much less than an average one. It had considerably less variety than what many other stealth games to have come before it had, and is considerably shorter with some impossibly confusing plot threads, bad voice acting and glitches galore towards the end.

Score

30.5/60

5/10 (Far Below Average)