Tag Archives: Xbox 360

Wreckateer (Xbox 360)

Developer(s) – Iron Galaxy Studios

Publisher(s) – Microsoft Studios

Released back in 2012, Wreckateer was one of the few games released exclusively for use with the Xbox 360’s ill-fated Kinect motion sensor peripheral. Providing a fairly unique twist on the premise of Angry Birds, I happen to think it as being better, though not without its flaws.

Graphics – 5/10

Conceptually, the game perpetuates the medieval fantasy archetype, and there’s nothing present to make it stand out visually to any great extent. On a technical level, the graphics are just below the standard of what players would have been useful for the time, which was surprising to me, since Microsoft Studios published the game, and around that time, there was more effort focused on Kinect games than there ever has been since, with the release of games such as Fable: The Journey, and more Xbox 360 games than ever being given some form of compatibility with the sensor; including Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim.

Gameplay – 7/10

The concept of the game is to try and steer cannonballs into castles using the Kinect sensor, and try to decimate each castle in each level as much as possible. There are several different types of cannonball to use, and several different challenges throughout the game. The different types of weapons make for an amount of variety on par with Angry Birds, but in my opinion, it’s a lot more enjoyable, as well as more challenging and rewarding.

Controls – 10/10

In many games to use the Kinect, I’ve had quite a few issues regarding how it works and how difficult it can be to cope with at times, and has since made me extremely sceptical of it; especially against the Wii, which most likely compelled the creation of both the Kinect and PlayStation Move. But Wreckateer is so far the only game I’ve played that makes adequate use of the Kinect and poses no complications in the process.

Originality – 6/10

Although this game was heavily based on an already existing concept made popular by Angry Birds, Wreckateer took it into the realm of 3D, and made a fairly good job of it, whilst also taking advantage of an unconventional control scheme, which is even impressive. So whilst there isn’t a great deal of uniqueness in terms of visual design, there is indeed a fair bit in terms of both gameplay and controls.

Happii

Happii

Overall, Wreckateer is a fairly decent title, and in my opinion, one of which in 2012 that unfortunately, and unfairly fell through the cracks along with the likes of Dishonored and Mark of the Ninja. It may not be the first game to play out the way it pays out, but in my opinion, it’s so far the best.

Score

28/40

7/10 (Fair)

Watch Dogs (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows & Wii U)

Developer(s) – Ubisoft Montreal

Publisher(s) – Ubisoft

Designer – Danny Belanger

Producer – Dominic Guay

I think the best way to describe Watch Dogs is as an open-world Grand Theft Auto-Assassin’s Creed hybrid. It’s a game that requires the player to unique use the city as their weapon; having control of things like bollards and traffic lights to catch criminals and to escape from police, or using the player character’s smartphone to access bank accounts or attain their personal details; information is power, after all. But especially after two years of waiting, I was unfortunately less than impressed by the now best-selling game in the UK.

Graphics – 7/10

Don’t get me wrong. Watch Dogs has some of the most brilliantly detailed visuals of the modern gaming generation; especially on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The problem I found was that there was nothing standing out in the conceptual sense. And the way I see it, having extremely advanced visuals can mean much less than as may be advertised if no creativity is put into the conceptual stage. Indeed, its by that token that I prefer the visuals in Ubisoft’s Child of Light than the visuals in Watch Dogs. To me, this is one of these situations. I’d say the most standout things about the visuals in Watch Dogs is how unique the city is displayed on the map; how it’s been made to look something a lot like an internal computer network. This technique has also been used in a lot of the cutscenes in the game, which does add a bit to the overall atmosphere of the game, but otherwise, there’s nothing else to differentiate it from most other games like it, unfortunately.

Gameplay – 6.5/10

Watch Dogs is a game that has story missions, side missions, and plenty of extra curricular activities thrown in for good measure, and it will make for a decent gaming experience for people who are able to get into it. But I wasn’t able to get into it. Normally, I can tell whether or not I’ll enjoy a game after playing it for about an hour or ninety minutes, but I’d been playing Watch Dogs for roughly three hours, and I found it nigh on impossible to get into. To me, it just seemed to start off very slowly and not pick up momentum like I believe a game should do in its early stages. This has been a recurring problem for me in the seventh generation in particular; with games that people have told me they believe to be classics, such as Red Dead Redemption and Fallout 3. The way I see it, Watch Dogs is a fresh new example of this; a game that will be viewed by many as being excellent, but one that I have too much difficulty gaining enough interest in to play it for any extended amount of time.

Controls – 8/10

Incorporating a gaming formula that has been long-since perfected, Watch Dogs plays out simply enough for the most art, but the biggest problem I found with it was that there are far too many menus, and by that token, it seemed to me that there was just far too much to have to keep track of whilst playing. To an extent, it reminded me unsentimentally of Fable III; though Watch Dogs is far less complicated than that, I can assure. But the thing is, as the hacking mechanics in this game are very much new to gaming, there was inevitably going to be an element of trial and error, so maybe if they were to simplify it for a possible sequel, it may make for a better game than this. But still, other than that, there are no outstanding problems.

Lifespan – 10/10

Watch Dogs’ lifespan is something I mustn’t fault it for. Regardless of how little I think of how this game plays out, it will easily make for at least 60 to 70 hours of gameplay, given everything that there is to do. One thing is for certain; those who find this game easier to get into than I will be rewarded, as there are many collectibles, many side missions and even additional missions to do when playing the game online, which to my excitement, seems to be a recurring thing in games these days.

Storyline – 3/10

The story of Watch Dogs involves a vigilante and hacking expert named Aiden Pearce, who is out to find the people responsible for the unintended death of his niece instead of him. At first, it may sound like a half-decent story of revenge reminiscent of many Steven Seagal films, but unfortunately, it doesn’t really develop into anything more than that. I know because I took the liberty of finding out what happens before playing through the game. I look at it in the sense that the story wasn’t particularly gripping from the start, and from my own point of view, I don’t think I would have been missing much. But the most annoying thing about the story has been another recurring problem found in games like Final Fantasy XIII, for example; when events are moving at a rate, which doesn’t allow for players to think about what’s actually happening. It all just happens regardless.

Originality – 4/10

In reality, other than the hacking mechanic and the whole computer network-styled visuals found in the menus and some cutscenes, there’s not much else to make to stand out among other open-world games. There are a few Easter eggs I was able to find darted around, but what open-world game doesn’t include an Easter egg or two? There were no other unique things I could find apart from these to point out, which was particularly disappointing for how much this game was hyped for so long.

Niiutral

Niiutral

Overall, I think Watch Dogs will only work with a specific kind of audience, and it doesn’t really have the full potential to appeal to everyone. It’s not one of the worst games I’ve ever played, but it’s by no means one of the best either. Maybe if I were to revisit it in the future, I could have a slightly different opinion of it, but so far, Borderlands has been the only game to be good enough for me to play for an overly long time until it started to pick up.

Score

38.5/60

6/10 (Average)

Warriors Orochi (PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, PC & PlayStation Portable)

Developer(s) – Koei & Omega Force

Publisher(s) – Koei

Designer – Atsushi Ichiynangi

An early seventh generation title, as well as an extremely late sixth generation title released on PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360, Warriors Orochi was yet another hack and slash tactical action game released by Koei Tecmo following their success with both the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series. It introduced a level of variety that I’ve personally rarely seen in a video game of it’s kind and whilst I did find a handful of issues, I ended up having a lot of fun with it at the same time.

Graphics – 6/10

Conceptually, I found the visuals to be quite impressive. Unlike many other games of its kind, enemies seem to have a fair bit of uniqueness about them, as opposed to simply being recycled throughout the course of the game. The variety in main character design is also unprecedented, with each one flawlessly standing out from the other. A lot of what I found wrong with the graphics, however, is in the fact that some enemies can actually glitch out from time to time; especially in the first level. Whenever they flee in terror, some actually end up disappearing into thin air, which I found to be quite a big design flaw.

Gameplay – 7/10

Although at its core, it’s easy to look upon this game as simply being a button masher, the amount of characters and mission also afford players a massive amount of variety, since each character also has their own style of combat and range of weapons, with many more to unlock as the game progresses. On top of that, there are also learnable abilities to unlock, giving the game an almost RPG feel to it, which I was even further pleasantly surprised to find. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between this game and Hyrule Warriors, and whilst I find Hyrule Warriors to be the better game, largely by default since I am a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda series, and that it contained about as much variety, but in a much more creative way, Warriors Orochi still turned out to be a much more entertaining game than I initially anticipated.

Controls – 8/10

The worst thing I found with the controls was that they could be a little bit unresponsive at times; especially when playing with characters that use heavier weapons. It can sometimes be quite easy to come across some awkward camera angles when playing through levels that are set in buildings, such as the first level. But otherwise, I found no other issues with the controls. Apart from these few issues, it plays out as fluently as any other game that Koei Tecmo have developed employing the same style of play.

Lifespan – 8/10

As well as there being great abundance in gameplay variety, there is also great abundance in lifespan, with the game being able to last at least 30 hours. Replay value can be had in levelling up each individual character to the max, as well as playing through it with several different factions, in turn offering different perspectives on the plot of the game; similar to Sonic Adventures, but on an even bigger scale. It’s impressive to me how Koei Tecmo have been able to attach such longevity to a type of game that can be largely seen as repetitive. I’ve seen it in Hyrule Warriors, and I saw it again in Warriors Orochi.

Storyline – 6/10

The story of the game follows several different warring states of both China and Japan as the serpent king Orochi creates a rift in time and space, which brings warriors from both sides together. Orochi wishes to simply test their might, as characters from each faction eventually band together to finally confront the serpent king. The concept of the story is very exciting, as well as different to that of many other game like it that Koei Tecmo have released, but a big problem, at least to me, was how terrible the voice acting is. Some would argue that this adds to the game’s charm, but I’ve always found bad voice acting in video games in general does nothing more than mar down the entire experience. Given the choice, I would much prefer to read dialogue, similar to classic Final Fantasy games, than to have to listen to sup-bar voiceover work.

Originality – 6/10

This type of game had been replicated many times beforehand by Koei Tecmo, and has been replicated many times again ever since, with Warriors Orochi alone spawning two sequels, but the increased variety in gameplay, as well as the story concept, served to at least keep it fresh in comparison with every other game of it’s own kind. Although in Japan, this style of play has seemed to become as popular in the same sense that Call of Duty is popular, how the developers can simply release more of the same without much innovation, it’s easy to see how the idea has caught on, and why Nintendo would want to have implemented it for themselves with Hyrule Warriors; it’s addictive and can make for something special when put into the right hands.

Happii

Happii

In summation, Warriors Orochi, while having it’s fair share of flaws, is a particularly enjoyable game. Although the voice acting is by no means up to scratch, I need to commend Koei Tecmo for focusing on the aspect that truly matters; the gameplay.

Score

42/60

7/10 (Fair)

Vanquish (Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3)

Developer(s) – Platinum Games

Publisher(s) – Sega

Director – Shinji Mikami

Producer(s) – Atsushi Inaba, Keith Dwyer & Jun Yoshino

Released during the holiday season of 2010 amidst a plethora of many mainstream titles such as Fable III, Fallout: New Vegas and Gran Turismo 5, Vanquish was a third person shooter made in the same vein as the likes of Gears of War, Uncharted and Mass Effect inspired by an anime series called Casshern, according to the game’s director and Resident Evil creator, Shinji Mikami. However, despite the positive reception this game has garnished and becoming an unsung cult classic of the seventh generation, I found it personally impossible to see the appeal.

Graphics – 6/10

The best thing about the visuals in the game is certainly it’s conceptual design. Reminiscent of any other anime series’ aside from Casshern, such as Gundam Wing and even Attack on Titan to a certain extent, there are bullets flying all over the place, futuristic settings and scenery, as well as elaborate armour and highly advanced weapons. However, the game loses points for the fact that compared to many other games at the time, the graphics aren’t anywhere near as technically sound, containing less textural detail than the likes of the two Mass Effect games released prior.

Gameplay – 6/10

The game’s strongest attribute, thankfully, is in its incredibly intense and fast-paced gameplay. Playing out very much like a cross between Gears of War and Lost Planet, the objective is to simply destroy everything in sight in a linear path, and bring down towering boss after towering boss whilst racking up as big a score as possible. Despite the many flaws this game has, it’s still quite enjoyable to play. The biggest problem I have with it is the fact that it is indeed so fast-paced leaves room for much else to included, such as side quests and additional secrets to add even more to the overall experience.

Controls – 6/10

Although the game plays out like a typical third person shooter, there is also the ability to slide around in order to avoid enemy attacks and to move quicker across stages and from place to place in general. The problem is that his feature was a question of trial and error, and is very much unrefined, adding to the frustration that comes with this title. Perhaps if there had been a sequel, this may have been improved on, but it wasn’t to be however, and to me, seems very much like a failed experiment as a result.

Lifespan – 3/10

The game also lasts under the average length of a conventional linear third person shooter, at about 4 hours; 5 at a stretch. I’ve always thought that games in this genre are inherently and painfully short with the exception of the Mass Effect trilogy (a trope still perpetuated to this day, based on reviews of The Order: 1886), but I think a game like Vanquish could have done with a much longer lifespan to make it at least stand out among many of the others, and maybe even be considered superior with the right amount of gameplay content; but it wasn’t to be.

Storyline – 5/10

The story follows DARPA agent Sam Gideon, who is called up to fight for American forces, after one of their space stations are invaded by the Russians, who are threatening to destroy New York unless the Americans surrender. Aside from the story not being too well conceived, the voice acting also leaves a lot to be desired; in lieu of Platinum Games tradition I personally find. The voice acting in Madworld was tolerable, since not only did it incorporate a strong element of humour and a well thought out plot, but in Vanquish, there’s none of this and by that logic, it’s very much irredeemable in my opinion.

Originality – 5/10

To me, the only things that make this title unique are both the fast pacing and intensity of general gameplay and the added sliding ability. Unfortunately, the sliding ability makes this game stand out in the sense that a sore thumb stands out; unsolicited, yet persistent. Although it may have a small portion of artistic merit attached to it through its visuals, this is not Platinum Games’ most unique effort in this respect either; with the likes of Madworld and Bayonetta going far beyond what this game had to offer.

Happii

Happii

In summation, Vanquish will offer a fair amount of decent gameplay for a few short hours, but unfortunately, that’s all it does the way I see it. There was most definitely room for improvement in almost every other aspect, and while many people may think it is very much underrated, I believe it’s very much overrated.

Score

31/60

5/10 (Far Below Average)

Tunguska: Legend of Faith (PC & PlayStation)

Developer – Exortus Software

Publisher – Take-Two Interactive

Graphic Director – Alexei Danikine

Producer – Lee Brown

Tunguska: Legend of Faith was a game released in 1998, and ported to both the PC and the original PlayStation. I tried to research into it further for the purpose of the review, but it seems to have been lost on the entire industry. There’s no Wikipedia article about it, people would be hard-pressed to find a review of it (which is hopefully where I come in), and although it was indeed published by Take-Two Interactive, it doesn’t even appear on their Wikipedia list of games they’ve published. However, this can all only be a good thing, as it is an awful, wretched game; even for the time was it so undeniably bad in every single way. In the development company’s lifespan, Germany-based company, Exortus Software, only managed to get two games out to retail; a game called WorldSpiral: Liath, and this monstrosity. The way I see it, it’s no wonder they folded if they were putting out games like this.

Graphics – 5/10

Whilst the visual quality is fairly average for the time, and all things considered, has not aged well compared to other early PlayStation games, it’s also conceptually weak. All the corridors throughout the castle in the game look the same as one another. There is not one standout feature other than maybe some of the traps strewn across the place, and even they aren’t anything special to look at. The opening cutscene in the beginning of the game was fairly well done, but from there, it only gets far, far worse.

Gameplay – 1/10

The game is anything but enjoyable to play. All it involves is basically walking around a castle fighting a few people along the way and trying to run past traps; occasionally solving the odd boorish puzzle. The combat system is extremely ridiculous and the game also gets unreasonably hard as the player progresses. The fighting is repetitive, there are absolutely no side quests to do in between playing through the main story and by this token has no replay value whatsoever. It is for the good of the industry that this game is left as obscure as it is.

Controls – 1/10

This game more than gave testament to the initial wanting quality of the PlayStation’s control scheme; it took it to a greater degree of inadequacy. With a control scheme similar to Resident Evil, only with hand-to-hand fighting sequences, the fighting system is confusing at best. There are often times when the camera pans too far away from the in-game character, and it’s difficult to see exactly what’s going on. The command registration system is also very inaccurate, as what player wants the character to do when they press certain buttons doesn’t always happen, and the character can be killed very easily as a result. Also, the mechanic of having to enter another room by clicking on a door in a separate screen to get it open is extremely unnecessary. Why did they not just have a system whereby the player presses a certain button once they reach the door, and then it opens? Why does a separate screen have to pop up? It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Lifespan – 1/10

On average, this game will take less than 2 hours to complete. But I’m very confident that most players will lose interest before then if they ever choose to play this game. Video games that fall under the genre need to last much longer than that, and it doesn’t even feel as if the developers tried at all to prolong the lifespan of the game.

Storyline – 0/10

Now, this is the aspect in which this game falls apart faster than an opinion about football expressed by Adrian Chiles. The ridiculous narrative centres on a condemned criminal named Jack Riley, who is falsely imprisoned for the murder of his wife. As he gets the electric chair, he is transported to another dimension, where he must traverse through a castle, and uncover its secrets. By doing so, he comes back to life and he is miraculously cleared of his crimes. That’s all that happens. It’s uninteresting at best. I have just spoiled the entire story by revealing what happens in the end, but to be honest, I would not consider this a major loss.

Originality – 0/10

This game is original in all the wrong ways. I.e., it’s original in the sense of how bad it is. Not many games can boast such a profound and blatant level of inadequacy. I feel as if the budget used to develop this game could’ve been put to much better use.

Furiious

Furiious

To put it simply, stay away folks…stay away.

Score

8/60

1/10 (Farcical)

Titanfall (Xbox 360 & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – Respawn Entertainment

Publisher(s) – Electronic Arts

Director – Steve Fukuda

Producer – Drew McCoy

One of the most highly anticipated games of last year, Titanfall was supposed to be Microsoft ace in the hole concerning the Xbox One; the title that would attract more people to align with their system as opposed to the PlayStation 4. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way, and for good reason in my opinion.

Graphics – 6/10

Compared with the conceptual design of many other science fiction games, it feels to me like the game is wanting, as to me, it looks like a watered down version of the game Hawken; marred down by element of both Call of Duty and Battlefield. The reason why it doesn’t lose too many marks in this category is because from a technical standpoint, the game is visually flawless. There are no glitches in site, and everything is extremely well polished.

Gameplay – 3/10

In a lot of ways, I can best describe this game as a middle finger to anyone who bought an Xbox One around the times of its launch. It was game eagerly anticipated for years, but ended up being overwhelmingly restricted in terms of gameplay, as not only is an Xbox Live subscription mandatory to play it, but there isn’t even a single player campaign mode; players having to instead contend with an online multiplayer campaign mode. Some would argue that Destiny was the same, but a PlayStation Plus subscription isn’t mandatory, and players can enjoy it whilst not having to pay an extra £40 on top what they paid for the game.

Controls – 10/10

There are no issues with the control scheme thankfully, since it ultimately plays out like any other run-of-the-mill first person shooter. Even when players embark in one of the titan robots, it plays out more or less exactly the same as it would if they were on foot. Whilst there may be no problems, henceforth why it loses no marks in this category, there’s nothing special about them either. It’s proof of how difficult it can be in this day and age to make an FPS that stands out among most.

Originality – 4/10

Because of the bog standard control scheme, and the visible lack of difference between playing on foot or in a titan, I don’t think for a second of Titanfall being the revolutionary game-changing title it was advertised as being at the time of its release. The restrictive gameplay makes it stand out somewhat, but for all the wrong reasons. To me, this title can be seen as not only vastly overrated, since it miraculously won over 60 gaming awards last year, but it can be seen as a lesson on how not to make a video game.

Angrii

Angrii

In summation, Titanfall is most definitely one of worst games of 2014. It’s one of many reasons to buy a PlayStation 4 as opposed to an Xbox One, and makes me think that if the developers want an entire franchise to spawn from this one wretched game, then making the sequel multi-platform should be the tip of the iceberg. Major improvements need to be made in every other aspect in my opinion.

Score

23/40

5.5/10 (Below Average)

The Darkness (Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3)

Developer(s) – Starbreeze Studios

Publisher(s) – 2K Games

Designer(s) – Jens Andersson

Producer(s) – Lars Johansson

After problems arose with development concerning publishing rights, with Majesco originally owning them before having to sell them amidst financial problems, it would have been very easy to assume at that time The Darkness would suffer as a result, most likely due to creative or artistic differences from the various different parties involved; thankfully, it doesn’t suffer to any great deal, and turned out to be a fairly enjoyable game. A linear first person shooter, it introduces some very interesting gameplay mechanics into the genre, and does pretty well to stand out among many others in turn; this is especially impressive, as at this point, the genre had dominated mainstream gaming

Graphics – 6.5/10

What I enjoyed most about the game’s conceptual design was it’s exceptionally dark tone as the player wanders round back allies and open streets of a very gritty-looking New York City. It all works extremely well to set the tone of the game, and make it highly representative of the dark directions the game’s story is taken in. What I didn’t like about it however, are the dream sequences in which the main character is placed in a World War I environment known as the Otherworld. In these sequences in particular, I found there to be much less textural detail, and ironically, looked considerably less darker than in real world sequences.

Gameplay – 7/10

At first, the game seemingly plays out like a run-of-the-mill first person shooter, with the same kinds and variety of weapons that would typically be found in any instalment of wither Medal of Honour, Battlefield or Call of Duty. As players progress, however, it becomes apparent that this title has a little more going for it than that. The player gains the ability to summon small dog-like demons in order to solve puzzles and attack enemies, as well as a pair of snake-like demons in order to reach otherwise impassable areas and see where enemies are positioned in order to gain a tactical advantage. There is also a couple of side quests involving collectible items, like most first person shooters, which adds a little bit more to it’s longevity, but it all did leave me wanting a little bit more for how much variety there is in combat.

Controls – 9/10

The only gripe I had with the game’s controls is that it can be a little bit awkward to move the snake-like demons whilst trying to move around impassable areas or detect enemy patters and positions. It can also be a little bit needless annoying, as they can only stretch to a certain distance and without warning, they can immediately retract. Otherwise, however, the game plays out like any good first person shooter should. Movement and attacking is straightforward, and it tried something different without messing with the core formula too much.

Lifespan – 6/10

The game lasts about the average length of time for a linear first person shooter to last, which is around six to seven hours. As I alluded to earlier, it would have been nice to see the developers add more things to do within it to in turn add to it’s longevity, making it stand out even further than the average first person shooter than what it already does, and therefore, it would have most definitely been held in much higher regard than what it was. For example, they could have easily expanded on the brief morality mechanics seen throughout the game.

Storyline – 6.5/10

The story of the game involves a contract killer for the Mafia named Jackie, who becomes an assassination target, along with his girlfriend Jenny, for his uncle Paulie after a failed job, and later on requires a mysterious power known as the darkness, which gains him an edge over his enemies, but has unforeseen consequences, which unfold as the game progresses. Overall, the story is reasonably immersing, and there are elements of tragedy to it, along with the fact that Jackie is portrayed quite well as an anti-hero wrestling with his perceptions of right and wrong. However, one fatal flaw I found with it is that it would have made much more sense if Paulie wasn’t Jackie’s uncle, because I personally found it unbelievable that an uncle would immediately decide to kill his nephew for losing some money, and the way this plot element was portrayed seemed nothing short of tacked on.

Originality – 7/10

I have to commend how well this game stands out amongst a genre that was already destined for commercial success throughout the seventh generation, given the launch and prior success of many other first person series, such as Half-Life, Red Faction, Halo and Call of Duty. Like BioShock, but nowhere near on the same level, it presented players with a new way of playing these kinds of games, and did well to remind them that they don’t have to be anywhere near as generic as a vast majority of FPS franchises either were at that time, or what would later become in the future.

Happii

Happii

Overall, The Darkness is a pretty enjoyable gaming experience, and I would recommend and FPS fan tries it at least once. Though flawed in several different ways in varying degrees, it made for a decent early seventh generation title that still holds up reasonably well.

Score

42/60

7/10 (Fair)

Terraria (PC, Xbox 360, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation Network, Windows Phone, Wii U, Android & iOS)

Developer(s) – Re-Logic, Engine Software & Codeglue

Publisher(s) – Re-Logic, 505 Games & Spike Chunsoft

Programmer – Andrew “Redigit” Spinks

Producer – Jeremy Guerette

Terraria is a 2D platforming sandbox game, whereby the idea is to explore a huge open environment (including underground), build a house to accommodate non-playable characters such as a merchant, a demolitionist and a nurse, and to fend off waves of hostiles that try to attack either the player or their house. Whilst it is very addictive in gameplay and lasts only as long as player interest, there are other faults which hamper the game to an extent, but nowhere near the extent to make it unplayable; by any stretch of the imagination.

Graphics – 6/10

Visually, this game is a nice throwback to the era of both the SNES and the Mega Drive, as it’s rife with 16-bit sprites and environments. The main concern I have regarding the graphics is that whilst it may seem unique to a lot of younger gamers, as they may not have played games from the 16-bit era, older gamers may not be so smitten by the visuals, as there is not that much unique about it in a conceptual sense. Most of the enemies found in the game pretty generic and typical, including zombies, vampires, skeletons and even slimes, which have been a stable element in the Dragon Quest series for years. The most unique enemies in the game are without a doubt the demon eyes, which are floating eyeballs that attack people. Even the Wall of Flesh, the hardest enemy in the game, doesn’t seem overly original compared to other monsters of its kind that have been seen in video games prior, such as Melchiah from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver or the Mother Brain from Metroid. For the most part, the enemies are pretty typical, but nevertheless, the 16-bit graphics are nicely rendered and to an extent, I could appreciate that the developers were trying to make the game stand out from a graphical point of view.

Gameplay – 8/10

The fact that the game’s conceptual design is pretty weak doesn’t at all change the fact that it is an absolute joy to play once players become immersed. I is extremely addictive, and it can obligate players to continue playing, whilst they may not be making progress in the conventional sense; a gameplay element very reminiscent of The Elder Scrolls series. However, it will take some getting into. A lot like Minecraft or Don’t Starve, it’s not strictly self-explanatory. I would recommend getting tips on how to play it effectively before trying it. At first, I saw little point in carrying on with this game, as from first impressions, it seemed like things were moving to slowly. I then watched a few videos of people playing it and a few tutorials, and I decided to give it another go. Before I knew it, it was half past 2 in the morning. Although at first I struggled to understand exactly what this game had going for it in terms of gameplay, it grew on me, and I came to be impressed with what there was on offer. I have played very few 2D side scrollers that offer this level of exploration and freedom, and whilst its not a very original idea in general, I enjoy playing it.

Controls – 9.5/10

Another thing that initially annoyed me was the mechanic of building and mining in this game. It took me a while to figure out how to do it as effectively as possible, and I was about to run out of patience when I accidentally discovered that the analogue stick can be used to switch between two ways of building and mining when it’s pushed down. But as I said, I found that out by chance and it wasn’t self-explanatory. I guess by that logic, however, it would be much easier to play this game on a PC. But anyone reading this who is thinking of trying the game will now know, and there aren’t any other problems to address at all.

Lifespan – 10/10

As I previously wrote, this game will only last as long as player’s interest, and given this game’s level of addiction and variety, that should indeed be a particularly long time. There is no obligation to complete the main objective at hand, and players will be encouraged to make other form of progress in order to pass the time, such as building a bigger and better house. I, for example, have dedicated time to simply making an underground network simply to be able to explore the depths of the in-game world more easily.

Storyline – N/A (10/10)

One thing I tend to keep in mind whilst critiquing a video game is that not every game has to have a story in order for it to be good. Therefore, if a game doesn’t have a story, but didn’t necessarily need one, It won’t lose any marks and will attain a perfect score in that axiom of judgement. There is no point criticizing a game for not having an element that it didn’t need; and Terraria is certainly one of these games. When I reviewed Don’t Starve some time ago, I thought that it didn’t have to have a story at all; but the fact of the matter is that it’s there, and it’s just not elaborated on very much; and so it lost marks. But with Terraria, there is no story; nor did it need one. Therefore there is no need for it to lose marks.

Originality – 4/10

This is the aspect in which the game was left wanting in my opinion. As I said, although it is addictive and fun to play, the developer’s desire to incorporate uniqueness in the visuals with the 16-bit style wasn’t fully realized the way I see it, as it was pretty weak in conceptual design with few standout enemies or visual elements. It’s because of this that I’m sceptical that it would’ve stood out if the game was actually released in the 16-bit era.

Happii

Happii

In summation, aside from Terraria’s lack of visual uniqueness, and in terms of gameplay, whilst it does indeed borrow elements from Minecraft and the Metroidvania style of play, and therefore lacks the feel of a fully cohesive concept, it was still fun to play and one of the more addictive games I’ve played in recent times, and it’s definitely worth the very generous asking price attached to it.

Score

47.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

SteamWorld Dig: A Fistful of Dirt (3DS, Wii U, PC, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4 & PlayStation Vita)

Developer(s) – Image & Form

Publisher(s) – Various

Project Leader – Olle Hakansson

Somewhat similar to Terraria, SteamWorld Dig is a 2D platformer centering round the concept of mining and improving equipment. Though it isn’t quite as varied or as satisfying as the former, I still found it to be a fairly enjoyable game for how little time it unfortunately lasts.

Graphics – 7/10

In terms of both conceptual design and visual diversity, there is something fairly unique in this game. It’s set in an old Western town whereby it’s inhabitants are robots. It would have been interesting to see that concept explored a little bit more than it was, but that could be saved for a sequel potentially. As players delve deeper into the underground caves, there are also different setting present as well as different enemies and so on. My favourite aspect of this game in terms of visuals and sound, however, is the extremely effective use of lighting throughout, and how the game’s soundtrack adds to its atmosphere flawlessly.

Gameplay – 7/10

Throughout, this game is pretty satisfying to play. There is a fair amount of incentive on offer for those who are willing to complete it too 100%, and attain every upgrade and ability. But I can’t help but feel that some kind of endless mode could have been added to it. One such idea I have that would make a possible sequel is that the player would have to use what minerals the mine from the underground to build and maintain a town or community.

Controls – 10/10

As a 2D side scrolling game, there shouldn’t really have been any issues with the game’s controls, and so there are none, thankfully. It incorporates a very simple gameplay concept, and therefore, a very simple control scheme, and though it does little to innovate the genre, what it does do had been handled properly.

Lifespan – 5/10

SteamWorld Dig can be made to last about 6 and a half hours in all, and as I alluded to earlier, I don’t think it lasts anywhere near as long as a game of either it’s magnitude or potential would permit it to. Like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, I believe there are a plethora of ideas that the developers of this game could incorporate to make a possible sequel to top it; all of these ideas coming together to make for a bigger and better gaming experience.

Storyline – 6/10

The story revolves around a robot called Rusty, who has come to a small mining town named Tumbleton after receiving a mining deed from his long-lost uncle. How the story develops doesn’t make for a terrible narrative in my opinion, and it is interesting to see which way it goes. But my gripes with it is that it is pretty hard to relate or empathize with the character of Rusty, since he is a character of only a few words, and would most probably have worked better as either a silent protagonist, or with much more dialogue than what its present. Though I won’t give away what happens at the end, how the story finishes would also suggest to me that a sequel should be merely set on some kind of basic premise, as opposed to having a story containing a beginning, middle and end.

Originality – 6/10

I think despite how much it differs from other video games, both visually and conceptually, I still found myself thinking of a plethora of different ideas and elements that the developers could have incorporated to make this game as good as it had the potential to be. There was the ideas I had about it having an endless mode and a much different and meaningful in-game objective, but there could also be elements like a much bigger open world attached to it, and even more incentive and variety in gameplay to make it as entertaining as possible.

Niiutral

Niiutral

However, despite the various qualms I had with it, SteamWorld Dig was a good enough game to hold my interest for at least those few hours. It’s certainly one of the better indie games I’ve played, and there is indeed potential for the developers to take the series to new heights.

Score

41/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)

South Park: The Stick of Truth (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 & PC)

Developer(s) – Obsidian Entertainment & South Park Digital Studios

Publisher(s) – Ubisoft

Director(s) – Chris Brion, Chris Parker & Zane Lyon

Producer(s) – Todd Benson & Matthew Singh

Hyped up for quite some time and having suffered from a fair few delays, South Park: The Stick of Truth had been a game that I was looking forward to a fair bit. When I saw that was going to be turn-based RPG, I was thinking to myself about the possibilities of factors such variety in gameplay, and how long it could possibly last. One of these concerns of mine was adequately met, whilst the other was not.

Graphics – 9.5/10

The developers were aiming to capture the feel of the show in the game’s visuals, and they did just that. Playing the game feels very much like playing an actual episode of South Park. So whilst the graphics aren’t cutting edge, there’s no call for them to be cutting edge. The visuals are as good as could possibly desired. One bad thing I would say about the game in terms of this axiom of judgement is that all the houses in the neighbourhood area of South Park looks exactly like one another, but are in different colours. But the thing is, that’s the way they are in the show as well, and there are plenty of other unique-looking buildings and locations to compensate for that. In particular, I like how the developers designed Canada as an 8-bit environment; that was a very nice touch, and it did provide some diversity in visual style. But I think the worse instance of visual presentation in the game was the cutscene whereby a UFO crash-lands in South Park. That part is rendered in 3D, and to me, it’s quite sloppy. It actually had the feel of the South Park first person shooter that was released on the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation back in 1998.

Gameplay – 8/10

The game itself was also very enjoyable to play. It was a very nice throwback to old-style turn-based RPGs such as early Final Fantasy games or Dragon Quest, with learnable abilities, magic and even summons to collect along the way. Although the game could have done with more, there are also a few side quests as well, and exploration is encouraged, but only to a certain extent. I think the gameplay aspect I can praise the most is the amount of variety it has. Like Final Fantasy, there are multiple party members at player’s disposal, and they all have their own unique abilities and special moves. The combat system also presents the necessity to strategize, which is always a plus. Medium mode doesn’t present a great deal of challenge, but for more intrepid players, the difficulty can be adjusted.

Controls – 10/10

As a 2D open-world turn-based RPG, the control scheme for games like this has been long-since perfect, and consequently, there should never have been any issues with the controls; and nor are there, I’m happy to say. Many developers have tried to add different aspects of controls in turn-based RPGs in recent years to compensate for the characters simply standing still, such as in Lost Odyssey, where bonus damage could be dealt by pressing buttons at the correct times. But how the developers of this game have managed to do that is actually pretty impressive.

Lifespan – 3.5/10

Frustratingly, I’d finished this game in less than 14 hours. I’d say that at most, it would take players still less than 20 hours to complete the game to 100%, and for a turn-based RPG, that’s nothing. Games like this can normally be made to last 80, maybe even 100 hours; over five times longer than South Park: The Stick of Truth. Unfortunately, reminiscent of some games from the previous generation, such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dead Space and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, this is one of those games that simply left me wanting more. If Trey Parker and Matt Stone ever wanted to release a sequel, I really wouldn’t mind more of the same in terms of gameplay; just as long as it’s made to last far longer. My only hope now is that the planned DLC for the game can significantly increase it’s lifespan, because in its current state, it is far too short-lived.

Storyline – 7.5/10

Whilst the game’s story is extremely funny and very well thought out, I can’t help but think that its mostly open to one specific demographic; fans of the series. Newcomers who may never have watched South Park before won’t be able to get laughs out of all the references to previous South Park episodes and consequently wont get the most of what is to be had out of the game overall. But having said that, the main plot of the game is pretty appealing. The player takes control of a new kid who has just moved to South Park with his family, and whilst out looking to make friends, he inevitably finds Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Kenny, who are all playing a huge kids game. Cartman and Kenny are the leaders of the Kupa Keep faction and Kyle and Stan are the leaders of the Elven faction. The new kid is caught in the middle of the two groups waging war over an item called the Stick of Truth. According to the rules of their game, whoever controls the stick controls the universe. But it all turns into something much bigger than their little game, and the new kid must work to stop a threat looming over the entire town of South Park. Aside from the plot of the game being very good, in lieu of South Park tradition, the vulgarity dial is cranked up to 11; for any readers who may be looking to try the game, but who may be easily offended. There is everything in this game ranging from explicit violence, adult themes, foul language, toilet humour, full-frontal nudity, strong sexual content, political incorrectness and disturbing imagery. Seven scenes of this game were even censored in not only the Middle East and Africa, but in Europe too, along with the PC version of the game also being censored in several other countries. So any players with children are strongly advised to make sure they’re kids don’t walk in on them playing this game.

Originality – 8.5/10

In terms of gameplay, whilst hearkening back to old-style Final Fantasy, South Park: The Stick of Truth is a very unique take on the turn-based RPG genre as well as it having a unique story, unique level designs and a unique enemy roster, ranging from elves and wolves to aliens and cows. The game can also be noted for its exceptional level of crudity. I have played many games that have caused a lot of controversy over the years, but it will be interesting to see how people react to this one.

Happii

Happii

Overall, South Park: The Stick of Truth was a very decent game to play through, but it did ultimately wanting so much more out of it than what I got; and by that token, I felt pretty jaded by it. But it is worth playing once, and hopefully, it will be worth holding out for the planned DLC to come along and increase the game’s lifespan by at least some margin.

Score

47/60

7.5/10 (Good)