Tag Archives: Shooter

Fur Fighters SG88 Header

Fur Fighters (PC, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 & iOS)

Developer(s) – Bizarre Creations

Publisher(s) – Acclaim Games

Designer(s) – Jeff Lewis

Producer(s) – Brian Woodhouse

ELSPA – 11+

 

Released originally on the Sega Dreamcast, and subsequently re-released on the PlayStation 2 as the Viggo’s Revenge edition, Fur Fighters is a third-person shooter 3D platformer hybrid brought to consoles by Liverpool-based developer Bizarre Creations, and whilst not performing particularly well financially, was universally praised by critics at the time of it’s released and has since gained somewhat of a cult following as one of the most overlooked games of the sixth generation. In my opinion, the praise was well-deserved. I remember watching video reviews of the game at the time, but I never got round to picking up a copy at the time of its release. But after finally getting my hands on it and finishing it in full, I wasn’t disappointed. 

 

Graphics – 7.5/10

The game makes use of cel-shading, which was still in relevant infancy at the time with games such as Jet Set Radio, XIII, and the original Sly Cooper making waves in the early 2000s. The environments are quite varied and the character design is just as so to match. In terms of technical quality, it is about on par with most of what players can come to expect from a late fifth generation or early sixth generation game. Being cel-shaded, it didn’t stand out in terms of a technical marvel, but it comes with its own unique conceptual design, which brings a strong sense of charm to the title. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

A third-person shooting 3D platformer, the objective is to traverse through various different levels and hub worlds shooting enemies and procuring collectibles scattered throughout the game, including tokens and rescuable baby animals. It has an element of Donkey Kong 64 to it, in that the player can take control of several different playable characters, whose abilities must be utilized to progress through certain areas of the game; for example, the dragon character Tweek can glide to reach otherwise impassable ledges, and the penguin character Rico can swim through bodies of water to reach different areas. There is a fair amount of variety to be had in this game, and whilst it doesn’t quite measure up to some of the best 3D platformers ever released, such as Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, does relatively well to stand on its own two feet. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s control scheme is faultless, provided the player picks the right control scheme; particularly in the Viggo’s Revenge edition. The default control scheme almost makes the game unplayable, however, with the movement controls being nigh-on impossible to get to grips with. It made me thankful that there was mercifully an auto-aim system for when enemies attack. In my opinion, the best control scheme to go with is the Beginner 2 control scheme; it makes life ten times easier whilst playing. I found it confusing, however, that the developers chose to associate the control scheme with the game’s difficulty because to me, a bad control scheme shouldn’t exist for the sake of adding to the difficulty, simply because it doesn’t; it just adds to the game’s frustration. 

 

Lifespan – 8/10

Lasting around 30 hours, more intrepid players looking to collect everything within the game will not be disappointed. There is plenty on offer for players who want to make the experience last as long as possible, and I was pleasantly surprised myself that there was more to play for in this game than meets the eye. I went in expecting this to be a much more generic gaming experience than what I eventually got, and the game’s surprisingly long lifespan is the main reason why. 

 

Storyline – 6/10

What isn’t so great about this game is that the plot is pretty typical. The evil General Viggo has kidnapped the families of the Fur Fighters and the team resolves to defeat Viggo and get them back. Given that each of the Fur Fighters has his/her own personalities and traits, I would’ve thought the developers would’ve found a lot more room for characterization and plot than what was ultimately included, but I was unfortunately wrong. Luckily, the added voice acting in Viggo’s revenge edition and the fact in and of itself that the different characters do have outstanding personalities and traits keep the story from being overly terrible, but there was definitely room for elaboration in this respect. 

 

Originality – 7/10

The game stands out to a fair enough extent, but the main reason why it doesn’t stand with the best of the best 3D platformers is that it doesn’t do enough to stand out; maybe this is the main thing that hurt sales of the game at the time since it’s easy to make the assumption that this game is a lot less than what it actually is. It’s unfortunate, but to play devil’s advocate, there are also reasons why this game remains a beloved diamond in the rough in the eyes of many other gamers. It’s not a completely generic game, but there are a fair few things that could’ve been worked on to give the extra push it needed at the time in my opinion. 

 

Happii

However, that being said, Fur Fighters is still a very worthwhile title. It has great gameplay elements, it’s conceptual design is just about better than good, and I would recommend at least one playthrough of it. 

 

Score

46.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Space Invader Kreatures Header

Q&A with Ajal Game Studios

In yet another attempt to scout out more indie games with the potential to make waves upon release, I came across a science-fiction first-person shooter that definitely fit the bill. Space Invader Kreature, SIK for short, is an FPS boating top-of-the-line visuals and intense gun combat with some RPG elements including upgrading things like health, speed, shields, and more. Developed under Ajal Game Studios based in Sinaloa, Mexico,  A Kickstarter for the game is currently live, and judging by what I’ve seen so far of this game, deserves to gather momentum as it progresses in my opinion. Eager to find out more about what players can come to expect from the finished game, I contacted Brisia Aguirre of Ajal Game Studios to learn what sci-fi series’ went on to influence its conceptual design, where the developers expect to be following the Kickstarter campaign, and details of what the developmental process has been like so far. Herre’s what Ajal Game Studios had to say about Space Invader Kreature:

 

Space Invader Kreatures 1

What were the influences behind your game? 

We love to play multiplayer shooters, particularly the CoD franchise. Although this game is strongly influenced by this game. We also had influences from other classics such as counterstrike and of course DOOM the father of this genre. 

 

What has the developmental process been like?

It has been both a pleasure and a nightmare. We were academics and research is so different from game development. We had to learn more about marketing, testing, iterations, and different gaming concepts that we did not know in advance. Although time does help, we still struggle sometimes when there is a bug or something unexpected happens. 

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product? 

Right now we are close to finishing an alpha version but for a complete product, there is still work to be done. A project like this requires updates because people are used to new maps, gameplay and characters so we will finish the core by the end of 2021 but the development will continue as we increase the number of players and the add ons.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development? 

The teamwork. We have been working together since 2017 and it is a dream come true to be able to work with your close mates. It is a really diverse group because we come from different backgrounds and the fact that we are based in a rural place like La Cruz, Sinaloa, Mexico makes it more unique. Who would have thought that after our project manager studied video game development at UCL in London, she would find her tribe in such a random place? 

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?  

Money, it is hard to find funding for such a venture. We are so grateful for finding our main investor Ramón Campos, he has been so supportive and believes in this project that is Ajal Game Studio. 

 

How well has the game been received so far? 

The people who get to know the game love it, they like how they feel so immersed and love the graphics and the gameplay. The fact that we designed the enemies makes it more unique and engaging but also they like that it reminds them of games like CoD so it is easy for them to understand the game mechanics.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

We will start by launching for windows, in stores like Steam, Gamejolt, and itch.io, which last 2 are known for having a wide number of indie games and have been really supportive of this community. 

 

Were there any other particular facets of science fiction that influenced the conceptual design of SIK?

Yes, we watched a Russian movie called Coma. We were thinking about our main character and the worlds that are hidden in his dreams. When we saw this movie, it connected to what we wanted to do. Exploring the mind has always been a present topic of sci-fi, we wanted to explore this theme to make SIK different from the other shooters. 

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

Of course! You always start big! We started with a horror concept, making the nightmares and the story of Elizabeth and Steve but in those days our in-house illustrator left our team and it was really hard to continue so we focused on the shooter part and made it more active. We love the idea of a more frantic game and something that we could test as a team. 

 

As academics, have you found the development of this game harder than progressing through a university course?

Academia is hard! You need a lot of passion and time just like development but I think that there were also many activities in academia that were so time-consuming like politics and all that which is the place where the funding comes most of the time. So even though developing is hard we pretty much prefer it over academia but let’s be clear, we still love that part and would be glad to join academic projects. 

 

How instrumental has player feedback in terms of shaping the course of the project been?

If we want to build something that is appealing, feedback is a MUST, we appreciate the time that testers have put into our game because they helped us so much by being honest on the spots that were not attractive and implementing some of those ideas to what we have done so far.

 

Have there been any other fellow indie developers who have reached out to you to offer advice?

We are fortunate because we have a great network and other indies gave us so many insights particularly in terms of Unreal, which is the engine we are using and it was the first time we developed with this software and it was hard to understand some of the technical features.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?

It is such a hard question haha, I think we could go with Rockstar and GTA. this one because of the huge details and easter eggs and how real it is. Also Activision’s Call of Duty because of the quality of their visuals and how engaging their games mechanics are and how professional their level design is, or, lastly, Soma by Frictional Games, the gameplay was so different and interesting. We like bizarre games.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this? 

Please be patient and never stop studying. Game development evolves so fast and is good to keep informed about new assets or technology that can be helpful. Also, be sure to learn about business because after all, you will be selling what you do if you choose to do it as your main gig then you definitely need to learn your art but also how to market it. 

 

Where on the Internet can people find you? 

Please look for us on our Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AjalGamesOficial

https://www.facebook.com/spaceinvaderkreaturesik

 

Do you have anything else to add?

We are looking for people interested in testing our solo player mode. If you would like to receive the demo please send an email to ajalgamedevs@gmail.com. Thanks!!!

Thank you to Brisia and Ajal Game Studios for taking the time out of developing this game to answer my questions. If you think you’d like to back Space Invader Kreature, you can do so by clicking the link below:

Kickstarter Page

Space Invader Kreature looks like a very promising FPS indie game releasing within the ninth generation with a lot to offer players in terms of both gameplay and story, and I can’t wait to start playing the final product! In the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed learning more about SIK as much as I did to bring this game to the attention of as many gamers as possible.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

SG88 Gears of War header

Gears of War (PC & Xbox 360)

Developer(s) – Epic Games

Publisher(s) – Microsoft Game Studios

Designer(s) – Cliff Bleszinski

Producer(s) – Rod Fergusson

PEGI – 18

 

Released back in 2006 to widespread critical acclaim from both gamers and reviewers alike, Gears of War went from a beloved third-person shooter to go on and spawn a huge system-selling franchise for Microsoft, with 5 main entries in the series and 2 spin-off titles thus far. Out of the original three games, to me, the original still remains the best, as it delivered the best in every aspect that the next two games would both fall short on and failed to expand on at the same time. The original game remains a seventh-generation classic and for good reason. 

 

Graphics – 9.5/10

The first thing to notice is the visuals, which stood out as not only technically marvelous, doing incredibly to show off early on what the Xbox 360 was capable of graphics-wise, but out of the original three games, it also does best to perpetuate the inexplicably wonderful sense of dread that the series came to be known for, literally from the start of the game, as it begins in a dank prison cell with a history of violence. The settings are also incredibly diverse, and although it can be argued that the settings of the second game were possibly more so, in my opinion, the first still did better to set the tone of the entire series. It definitely does this better than the third game, and the settings are still more diverse than that of Gears 3.

 

Gameplay – 8/10

In its basic design, Gears of War, as well as every other main entry in the series, is a third-person shooter involving blasting through hordes of alien enemies, limited to just the Locusts in the first game, as well as finding strategic cover to become protected from enemy fire, and subsequently advancing through each phase of the story, as well as there being a very progressive online multiplayer mode. There’s not much to the series in general than that, and that’s why in my opinion, the following games in the series failed to impress me as such as what should come to be expected from sequels, but as this was the first, it seemed less disappointing, and it was a relatively new style of play at the time of when it came out. It was a breath of fresh back in 2006 to play a game structured like this after the market had become firmly oversaturated with FPS games throughout the sixth generation. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s movement controls and shooting mechanics were also very crisp and fluent, even for what was at that time a relatively new idea. Though it had borrowed from games like Resident Evil 4, Kill Switch and Second Sight, Gears of War, in my opinion, did a lot of the same things bigger, better, and all at once, and it made for a far superior game; not only in terms of controls but in terms of overall quality as well. 

 

Lifespan – 6/10

Lasting around 5 to 6 hours, the lifespan of the game is not great, but at the time, it was just about tolerable since it seemed inevitable after playing that there would be a sequel or two. The lifespan of each game remained there about the same, and so later entries seemed much more disappointing than this because of that, but regarding the first game, the amount of time seems more acceptable; though not outstanding. There could have been a lot more added to the first game to make it last even longer outside of the small side quests of collecting the cog tags.

 

Storyline – 8/10

The story of Gears of War centers around Marcus Fenix, a soldier fighting an interplanetary war between humanity and an alien race known as the locusts for the human faction known as the Coalition of Ordered Governments, or COG. After recently being reinstated into COG following his prior court marshaling, he is joined by his best friend Dominic Santiago, as well as a contingency of other COG soldiers, to continue the fight against the locusts and one of their highest-ranking leaders General Raam. The first game contains a lot fewer emotionally charged scenes than what the next two games would bring, however, to me, it still has the best story, since it accommodates for the lack of the tragedy element with things such as horror, mystery, and build-ups of tension. For example, the sequence in which the team is being chased around by the berserker remains my favorite moment in the series to date. 

 

Originality – 8/10

Though again, the series would seem far less unique as time went on, since the developers seemed far too reluctant to switch things up to any great extent (at least with Gears 2 and 3 anyway), the first game was far more unique at the time because it was an idea that had yet to be expanded upon with future games that played out similarly to it, such as Uncharted and Mass Effect. The first Gears of War set a trend throughout the seventh generation that was welcomed with open arms by gamers, and for a game that’s able to do that, you can’t help but consider it a unique experience. 

 

Happii

Overall the first Gears of War is most definitely the best entry in the original trilogy. It’s fun to play with a decent story, and though it doesn’t last as long as what it had the potential to (along with the next 2 games), there is a fair amount of fun to be had for the short time it lasts. 

Score

49.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)

SG88 Savage Halloween Header

Savage Halloween (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Switch)

Developer(s) – 2ndBoss

Publisher(s) – 2ndBoss

Designer(s) – Abdel de Oliveira & Fernando Rodrigues

PEGI – 7

 

Developed as a love letter to a number of NES classics, most notably Castlevania and Contra, Savage Halloween is an 8-BIT side-scrolling shoot ‘em up set in a world based on several tableaus associated with Halloween and boasting a massive amount of variety in gameplay. I’d seen previews of this game prior to playing, and yet, I was still taken aback by just how good it is; it’s definitely one of the standout retroactive indie experiences of 2020. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

Taking place in a world reminiscent of classic works and characters of horror, including Frankenstein and Dracula, there is as much variety in terms of visual design as there is in gameplay. With multiple characters and as well as its horror-styled setting, the game it reminded me of most in its graphical design is actually Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. But at the same time, the game also does well to differentiate itself from the former, as each level perpetuates a different subject of horror, such as circuses complete with clowns and circus monkeys along with a couple of elements that don’t necessarily do that, such as the mini gun-wielding Santa Clauses.

 

Gameplay – 8/10

Though the game is primarily; a side-scrolling shoot ‘em up, there are also a number of gameplay sequences that challenge the player in a number of different ways reminiscent of other classic games, such as Battletoads and Gradius, including on-rail shooting sequences. Like in Contra, there is also a massive amount of variety in terms of weapon choice, with machine guns, burst weapons, and guns that fire ghosts and exploding chickens. There are three characters to choose from at the start, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, so the game is designed to be played 3 times at a minimum, and each of these three playthroughs offers a new experience and challenge; a challenge which also doesn’t seem too inaccessible like the likes of Mega Man.

 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s control scheme is also exceedingly simple to get to grips with, especially if you’re a fan of the third generation of gaming, and poses no problems whatsoever. The only distinction that I suppose can be made is whether players may prefer to use the analog stick or the D-pad; either one works fine. That being said, it is also quite impressive how the developers managed to cram as many different control mechanics into this game with the amount of gameplay variety there is compared to other titles of the era of influence. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

One playthrough of the game can be made to last about an hour and a half. But as I said, this was a game designed to be played multiple times, so it can be made to last as long as the player desired ostensibly. Especially with the included traditional incentive to trying to beat your high score. So the bare minimum that this game should be made to last is 4 and a half hours, but there is definitely scope for more playtime than that. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story of Savage Haloweeeon is that a vampire hosting a 24-hour Halloween rave for creatures of the night has decided to close the portals leading back to Hell so they can continue to rave forever. The three main characters, James, Dominika, and Lulu have been called in to defeat the night creatures and stop the rave. It’s not exactly a story that reinvents the wheel, but it’s just wonderfully insane and outlandish as any story associated with gaming in the third generation. It’s a concept somewhat reminiscent of A Nightmare Before Christmas, in fact, which as that’s one of my personal favorite films, the story concept of this game works pretty well for me. 

 

Originality – 8/10

Although Savage Halloween has been influenced by a great number of games that have come and gone before it, all the elements of which do come together to nicely form its own cohesive concept, and it stands out to a great extent as a result. It was also rare in the third generation to come across a platformer whereby the high score played as much of a role as it does in this one; something which only generally has meaning in arcade games such as Space Invaders and Pac-Man, so this game does quite well to go against that tradition as well.

 

Happii

Overall, Savage Halloween is a title I can’t recommend enough. It’s entertaining, challenging, wonderfully varied, and will provide players with hours of fun. 

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)

SG88 Metroid Header

Metroid (Nintendo Entertainment System)

Developer(s) – Nintendo R&D1 & Intelligent Systems

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Satoru Okada

Producer(s) – Gunpei Yokoi

PEGI – 7

 

Released at around the midpoint of the third generation on the NES to generally positive reviews, selling best in America, Metroid became a favorite among fans of the original NES, and of course, would go on to become one of Nintendo’s flagship franchises along with the likes of Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Donkey Kong. I was excited before first going into this one some years ago because it wasn’t a game I got to experience at the time of its release, and I was very much looking forward to seeing the beginnings of this franchise after hearing what I had done through word of mouth. But although I do think it is one of the better games released on the NES, and that I can understand why so many people regard it as a beloved classic, to me, the series did get better as it went on; especially as this game suffered from a lot of limitations that the era of gaming in which it occupied presented. 

 

Graphics – 10/10

The best quality this game has, in my opinion, is the visuals. Set across an expansive alien world, it presented something extremely different from what Nintendo was putting out at the time, which mostly involved worlds made up of anthropomorphic animals and contemporary fantasy settings. Although there were plenty of games with sci-fi elements on the NES, such as Abadox, Contra, and Metal Gear, it was indeed interesting to see the makers of the console try their hand at it themselves, and the end result is one of the best-looking games on the system. The game’s soundtrack, composed by Hirokazu Tanaka, also compliments the game’s atmosphere in a way that also goes above and beyond that of which many other NES games attempted.

 

Gameplay – 6/10

Although the original Metroid is generally described as an action-adventure, ostensibly it’s a Metroidvania, although that term at the time had yet to be coined, of course, until Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night were both released many years later. The player must navigate their way through an open world, collect items, upgrades, and new abilities, and defeat bosses in order to unlock new areas, and ultimately face off against the end boss. But as this particular genre of game was yet to be built on, it suffers from limitations such as there being no in-game map, which in the Metroidvania genre, has become a staple element. Being a by-product of its time, players were reliant on either a strategy guide or even drawing up rough maps for themselves to make sure they don’t get lost or explore an area twice needlessly. It’s enjoyable to play with a strategy guide, but a nightmare without one. 

 

Controls – 7/10

Another area where problems exist is also the control scheme. As the game also has a lot of sequences whereby players must jump up vertically elongated areas, this presents issues because the game’s jump mechanics can feel quite inconsistent. Super Metroid had the same problem, as well as a few others, but not to the same extent as the original Metroid does. What’s also sorely lacking is the ability to shoot diagonally, which again, would be something that would be greatly improved on with future Metroidvania titles.

 

Lifespan – 7/10

The game can be made to last around an hour and a half, which in all fairness, whilst that seems like nothing compared to games today, was actually a fair bit of time longer than the average game in the late 80s. In this respect, the original Metroid was somewhat ahead of its time, along with the original Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Again, it may be down to the limitation of what hardware was being used back then that the game couldn’t have been made to last longer than what it does, but the lifespan did manage to break some new ground at least. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story of Metroid is that the Galactic Federation has sent a bounty named Samus Aran to the planet Zebes, which is infested with mysterious hostile aliens known as Metroids, in order to take out Mother Brain, a biochemical life form controlling the Space Pirates, who were responsible for the Metroid outbreak. Not a lot of that is made clear throughout the game, as in lieu of third-generation tradition, players had to read the manual in order to learn as much about the narrative as possible. But the reveal that Samus is in fact a woman is considered to be one of the most iconic moments in gaming history, as the concept of a female protagonist was pretty much unheard of in video games at the time. 

 

Originality – 8/10

It’s for that same reason, as well as its contemporary sci-fi setting, style of play, and accompanying soundtrack, that Metroid stands out as being one of the most unique titles on the system. Although the series would go on to reach greater heights, and that the character of Samus Aran would go on to become even more admired by gamers everywhere, this is where it all started, and for many gamers, this title broke a lot of new ground in ways that no one could have expected. Satoru Okada would go on to become one of Nintendo’s most iconic figures until his retirement in 2012, and it’s not hard to see why with the legacy he and the late great Gunpei Yokoi have left behind with the release of titles like this.

 

Happii

Overall, Metroid, whilst it indeed has too many flaws for me personally to be able to label it as such, is still considered by many to be a classic and an NES favorite, and for good reason. It was a Metroidvania before the genre was even properly conceived, and no game had played anything like it at the time. 

Score

45/60

7/10 (Good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Fallout 3 Header

Fallout 3 (PC, PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360)

Developer(s) – Bethesda Game Studios

Publisher(s) – Bethesda Softworks

Director(s) – Todd Howard

Producer(s) – Ashley Cheng & Gavin Carter

PEGI – 18

 

Fallout 3 released in 2008 following a long dispute between Bethesda and Interplay over the rights to the franchise, was developed on the same engine as Bethesda’s previous seventh-generation hit, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but provided a very different take on the RPG genre, incorporating first-person shooting elements, as well as many of the gameplay elements from the original 2 Fallout games. Although I think the best of the Fallout series was yet to come following both the release of this game, and Fallout: New Vegas. The third game in the series is a moderately enjoyable title, despite the fact that it was such a radical departure from the original Fallout formula, (which in and of itself caused quite a divide between fans), and regardless of its flaws, still does fairly well to hold up.

 

Graphics – 9/10

In stark contrast to the world of Tamriel from The Elder Scrolls, Fallout 3, like in the original series, is set in the post-apocalyptic USA following a resource war fought between America and China, but the third is specifically set in a post-war Washington DC known as the Capital Wasteland. As such, several Washington landmarks are darted across the land, such as the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building, but the environment is heavily irradiated and the city is in ruins. The visuals of this game are its most striking feature, going beyond what Oblivion delivered on the technical level, and providing something that most RPG fans at the time wouldn’t have been accustomed to, since although the first 2 Fallout games sold relatively well among the circle of PC games in the late 90s, the series didn’t find its way into the top echelon of games until the release of this title. The entire atmosphere of the game is wonderfully dark and gritty, and a lot of the locations found around the Capital wasteland make the player feel things emotionally that they will not expect to feel going into it. 

 

Gameplay – 7/10

The game is an RPG first-person shooter hybrid; a lot like Borderlands without the use of cel-shaded visuals. Players level up using the SPECIAL system that had been perpetuated since Fallout 1, and experience points are also spent on improving attributes such as computer hacking, lockpicking, and proficiency in various different types of guns; again in a somewhat similar fashion to Oblivion’s character progression system. The game also has a new take on turn-based combat with the inclusion of VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System), which allows players to scan enemies and aim for specific parts of the body that may be more vulnerable than others in order to gain the upper hand in battle. 

Especially when the player becomes stronger over time, using VATS can feel extremely satisfying, and watching the cinematic kills has become a beloved feature of the series since. But besides this, there are a plethora of secrets, side quests, and different locations to discover throughout the Capital Wasteland that will have players hooked for many, many hours. What I would recommend is that players find a copy of the Game of the Year edition, since not only will they be treated to even more content, but this version also fixes the game’s biggest flaw, which is the inability to play past the end. 

 

Controls – 6/10

The biggest problem with this game, however, is its control scheme; especially in the early stages of the game. Because the player character is not yet necessarily proficient enough in shooting or accuracy, the lack of accuracy can become a particularly big problem; in some cases, even to the point where players may switch off early doors. It’s no wonder Bethesda later enlisted the help of id Software to hone the FPS mechanics with Fallout 4 because it is a big problem that presents itself in a very profound way in this title, especially given the countless amount of FPS games that came before it. Mercifully, the game gets better to play as the player character progresses level by level, but patience can potentially wear thin with some players as well. The Pip-Boy system can also take a little bit of getting used to at first, but that doesn’t pose anywhere near as much of a problem as the shooting does early on. 

 

Lifespan – 10/10

Given everything, there is to do in this game, and the DLC, it can take way beyond 100 hours to complete, which is long enough for any gamer to enjoy. It easily outlasts Fallout: New Vegas, since, in that game, there’s hardly anything to do in comparison, but it also greatly outlasts the original 2 Fallout games. It’s no wonder the fanbase was largely split down the middle when this game came out since despite being such a departure, there was plenty to enjoy with this game.

 

Storyline – 6/10

The story of Fallout 3 takes place 200 years after the US is destroyed in the nuclear war with China. The player character is an inhabitant of Vault 101, and after reaching adulthood, his/her dad James, voiced by Liam Neeson, leaves the vault, causing the rest of the inhabitants to descent into chaos. After being hunted down by the rest of the inhabitants, the player character is basically forced out of the vault into the harsh and unforgiving environment of the Capital Wasteland and resolves to find his/her father. It sounds simple in scope, but events later unfold into something far bigger when it’s discovered why James left the vault and the number of different factions that become involved in the situation, such as the Enclave and the Brotherhood of Steel. As well as being pretty compelling, it also stays remarkably true to the source material of the original games and provides players with a fairly engrossing experience in terms of story. 

 

Originality – 7.5/10

What makes Fallout 3 game as unique as it is are a lot of things, such as the different approach to first-person RPG combat, the contemporary settings not normal for an RPG, and the amount of controversy this game created at the time. It becomes obvious very early on that game goes places where other developers would dare not go at the time. Places such as the Dunwich Building and Tranquility Lane make for experiences that I’d never felt playing a game before, and several of the other vaults darted across the Capital Wasteland have their own sordid stories to tell. A majority of this game’s story is told through its lore, and it’s awesome to experience. 

 

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Overall, Fallout 3, whilst not in my opinion is the timeless classic that other gamers tend to praise it as, is still a very enjoyable gaming experience, and in my opinion, better than the original Fallout. It’s not the best entry in the series (in my opinion, that would be Fallout 4), but it’s still a very respectable entry despite its flaws, and one of the more unique western RPGs ever developed. 

Score

44.5/60

7/10 (Fair)

SG88 Super Metroid header

Super Metroid (Super NES)

Developer(s) – Nintendo R&D1 & Intelligent Systems

Publisher(s) – Nintendo

Director(s) – Yoshio Sakamoto

Producer(s) – Makoto Kano

PEGI – 7

 

Released in 1994 coming up to the twilight years of the Super NES, and finding critical acclaim worldwide and commercial acclaim mainly in North America, Super Metroid is considered to be one of the most influential games of all time, as along with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, it helped to pioneer the so-called Metroidvania genre of games; the 2D side-scrolling open-world experience focused on combat, epic story, and exploration. I decided that as I’ve now reviewed a great number of games in the genre, that I’d examine the game where the groundwork was laid, and find out whether or not the experience still holds up to this day, and for me, it did not disappoint. 

 

Graphics – 10/10

One of the most standout features of the game is undoubtedly its beautifully crafter 16-BIT visuals with the game taking place across a number of locations that have since become iconic and synonymous with the Super NES era, including Brinstar, Norfair, and Maridia. This game’s visuals have gone on to inspire a number of retroactive indie titles over the last decade such as Blasphemous and Axiom Verge, and not just Metroidvania titles. For the time, these graphics were revolutionary, and the accompanying soundtrack, composed by Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano, perfectly compliments the wonderfully horrific atmosphere this game perpetuates throughout, which in and of itself, was very much out of character for a Nintendo game at the time, as most Super NES titles, for the most part, focused on happy-sounding music and brightly colored environments.

 

Gameplay – 8/10

Super Metroid followed the basic model of the original Metroid, but with drastic improvements. Players could now combine different types of weapons to create more powerful ones, and the boss fights littered throughout are far better throughout. There’s even more cause for exploration that in the original game or Metroid 2: Return of Samus, and it also comes with the synonymous Metroidvania map system; something which was sorely lacking from the previous two games, and something which every other Metroidvania title would adopt in increasingly innovative forms from then on. Few side scrollers at the time encouraged exploration to the extent that this game did, and it was a welcome breath of fresh air for those who got the chance to play it back in the day. 

 

Controls – 8/10

The game’s control scheme, however, isn’t perfect. Whilst most Super NES games used the Y and B buttons for attack for primary movement and combat controls, this game uses the X and A buttons for that purpose, and among Super NES fans, this will have caused some confusion for players back when it was released, and can still potentially cause confusion for modern-day players looking to play it for the first time, as indeed I found, since I wasn’t introduced to this game back when it was released. Kind of like Metroid Prime, it can take a bit of time for players to get used to initially. What the developers did add in terms of controls, however, was the facility to shoot diagonally, which again, was sorely lacking from the original games, and furthermore included in the re-release of the first; Metroid: Zero Mission for the Game Buy Advance.

 

Lifespan – 7/10

A thorough playthrough of the game can take an average of around 4 hours, which is about an exceptionally long amount of time for a game to have lasted back in the days of the Super NES. Although the game can be completed within half an hour (indeed, as this title has become particularly popular among speedrunners), it’s not a game that’s designed to be rushed through, and whilst it may sound like a paltry amount of time for a game to last compared to what gamers are used to these days, it was relatively unheard of at the time and most fans of the game have ended up playing it multiple times throughout the years anyway. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

Taking place in the latter stages of the Metroid timeline, the alien lifeform (the Metroid) that bounty hunter Samus Aran had recovered from planet SR388 at the end of Metroid 2: Return of Samus, had been delivered to a research facility by her for further study. But shortly thereafter, the space station is attacked by the leader of the Space Pirates, Ridley, who then captures the Metroid specimen and takes it to the nearby planet Zebes, and Samus is in pursuit of him. The game is also a lot more cinematic than games of the previous generation; the game’s opening cutscene, in particular, has become an iconic moment in Super NES history. It’s also among one of the earliest examples of how gameplay sequences can be used to build up tension within the confines of the story, as there are sequences whereby Samus must escape from certain places within a designated time limit before it explodes. 

 

Originality – 10/10

There is no understating how unique and influential this game was back in the day. Any game from which an entire genre is created stands out as being among the most influential of all time. Doom gave birth to the first-person shooting genre, Rogue paved the way for the Roguelike genre and Super Metroid was the primary pioneer of the Metroidvania genre; even Castlevania: Symphony of the Night adopted several gameplay elements that this game had first. 

 

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In summation, as well as being one of the most influential video games of all time, Super Metroid also stands out as one of the best titles on the Super NES and is an experience that still holds up and one that I would highly recommend. Regardless of the issues, I may have had with the controls, the immersive gameplay, wonderfully rendered graphics, and engrossing story more than make up for it. 

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Enter The Matrix Header

Enter the Matrix (PC, PlayStation 2, GameCube & Xbox)

Developer(s) – Shiny Entertainment 

Publisher(s) – Infogrames

Director(s) – The Wachowski Brothers

Designer(s) – David Perry

ELSPA – 15+

 

Set during the event of the second film The Matrix Reloaded and directed by the film’s original directors, Enter The Matrix was released to mixed critical reception but performed very well commercially at the time. Personally, this is one of those games that to me is extremely enjoyable to play, yet gamers and critics seem to hate it for unjustified reasons. A lot of critics at the time commented that both the game and the film were devalued as a result of the release of the game, but I disagree; I enjoyed the film and the game in equal measure and I still do.

 

Graphics – 9/10

On a technical level, the visuals were cutting the edge at the time, and they more than adequately hold up this day in comparison with any other sixth-generation titles. There is the odd graphical glitch here and there to prevent it from receiving a perfect score for visuals, but they are few and far between; the best port in terms of this would be the Xbox version. In terms of conceptual design, it’s exactly what people who have watched the films can expect. It’s dark, gritty, and takes place in many locations that are in the film itself, as well as a few new locations added for good measure. 

 

Gameplay – 7/10

Enter The Matrix is a third-person action-adventure that’s heavy on hand-to-hand combat as well as gunplay. If I would have to compare it to any other game, it would most like be Max Payne, as it plays out quite similar to the former. Again, it’s exactly the kind of game that people familiar with the films can come to expect in terms of gameplay as well. Players can instigate slow motion to their advantage similar to show the film is shot and they have a variety of different weapons and combat abilities at their disposal throughout. There are also car chasing sequences whereby players either have to control the car or shoot from the window to fend off enemies, depending on which character they are playing as. There are two-story arcs to experience within the game, which gives it a fair amount of replay value in addition. 

 

Controls – 8/10

The biggest issue with the Controls in terms of the targeting system. It’s supposed to work in a similar fashion to Ocarina of Time, but as it’s meant to be instigated automatically, it can cause issues with things like hit detection. But otherwise, the control scheme is handled as well as what was needed. I certainly didn’t have as much of a hard time as many other gamers and critics seemed to have. 

 

Lifespan – 5.5/10

Enter The Matrix can be made to last about 6 and a half hours, which for a linear action game isn’t too bad. If comparing to Max Payne in this respect, it falls short, as the former could be made to last around 20 hours, but for those looking to experience this game in full, there is plenty to do to keep things entertaining throughout. It didn’t perpetuate the standards that were met at the time in terms of Lifespan compared to many other games released back then, but it’s not as painfully short as many other games would in years to come either. 

 

Storyline – 8/10

The story takes place during the events of The Matrix Reloaded but told from the perspective of the member of the ship The Logos, led by Captain Niobe. She, along with her partner Ghost and their operator Sparks, are tasked with various missions in order to help Neo fulfill his destiny and bring about the end of the war between man and machine. The story is well written to the point that it feels almost like one massive deleted scene from the Matrix Reloaded. Jada Pinkett-Smith gives a solid performance as Niobe and the plot fits in nicely with the events of the second film. It all ties in to make for what is a very cinematic experience without it feeling too cinematic, like in many other games. 

 

Originality – 8/10

In terms of uniqueness, it’s exactly what fans of the film and come to expect in every respect, but the gameplay, despite the gripes that people may have with it, was enjoyable to a great enough extent and still remains so in my opinion. The combat system, though somewhat flawed, was unlike anything I’d seen prior to playing it. It stands out as a licensed game that was of a decent standard before the general standard of licensed games would be elevated with the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009, and in my opinion, very unfairly overlooked. 

 

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Overall, Enter The Matrix is a far better game than what people have given it credit for since its release. Though it has its problems, it’s an enjoyable game that ties in with the films flawlessly. 

Score

45.5/60

7.5/10 (Good)

Scouse Gamer 88 Blasto Header

Blasto (PlayStation)

Developer(s) – Sony Interactive Studios America

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment 

Designer(s) – Jonathan Beard

Producer(s) – Jonathan Beard & David Poe

ELSPA – 11+

 

Programmed by Star Fox lead developer Dylan Cuthbert and released in 1998 during the relative infancy of 3D gaming, Blasto is a third-person shooter whereby players take control of the titular character to save the galaxy from invasion from an alien tyrant; and apart from one or two elements about this game, it is indeed as generic as it sounds. There were a few things about this game that made me want to like it as I played through it, but unfortunately, there are too many faults with it that I couldn’t forego. 

 

Graphics – 7/10

Undoubtedly, the best thing this game has to offer is its conceptual design. On a technical level, this was far from the best-looking PlayStation game of 1998; but the in-game world is wonderfully colorful throughout and gets progressively darker as it goes on. The game soundtrack is also very orchestral and well put together. Composed by Syphon Filter veteran Chuck Doud, it’s the soundtrack is as wonderfully dramatic as the likes of Jet Force Gemini or Kurushi. 

 

Gameplay – 6/10

The game is a linear third-person shooting 3D platformer whereby players must destroy hordes of aliens, solve puzzles to progress, and rescue beautiful women along the way; like a downgraded version of Duke Nukem 3D if you will. The game is left a little bear for one that lasts the length of time that it does, which for the time of its release was quite long, especially for a linear game, but it was made intentionally hard, which for a game with bad controls, is never a good thing. Variety is to be had to an extent with a wide range of different guns to discover throughout the game, but not enough variety in enough respects to warrant it lasting as long as it does.

 

Controls – 5/10

Arriving at the issue of the game’s control scheme, it suffers from the same issue that a lot of 3D platforms had back in the day, which was that it wasn’t truly compatible with the analog stick, as the original PlayStation controller didn’t come with them. Movement is clunky at best, with the turning mechanics being laughably bad. The only saving grace the game has in this respect is the added ability to turn straight around in one fell swoop so that players don’t have to wait as long to turn a full 180 degrees; but even then, it’s still a massive problem. Another huge flaw the game has is the inability to access the map at will. The map is accessed through various pressure pads across each level and adds nothing to the game; it’s an unnecessary complication and should’ve been rethought before release. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

The game can be made to last five and a half hours for those who can get past the above issues; but for those who can’t like me, it may only last one hour at most. It’s all very well and good having a game that lasts a long time, but unless there’s enough to do within that time to keep it entertaining, the game won’t warrant players spending a great deal of time on it anyway. It really needed more to do, even for a game with a linear progression like this. 

 

Storyline – 6/10

The story follows Captain Blasto, voiced by the late Phil Hartman, who is assigned a mission to stop the alien tyrant Bosc from Invading the planet Uranus, thus putting down a galactic invasion before it begins. The name Uranus is naturally played for laughs at certain points in the game, which was hilarious back in the late 90s, but has since long outworn its welcome; unless played more subtly. But the best thing about the story is the energy that Phil Hartman brought to his role as Blasto, with funny quotes to listen to throughout gameplay. Phil Hartman was a consummate professional who was exceptional at what he did and he worked to his best within the confines of a very generic plot.

 

Originality – 6/10

Although the game may be one of the earlier examples of a 3D platformer at the time of its release, there had already been many other games in the genre that did more unique things than in this title. Compared to many of them, it still seemed generic even back in 1998. The only things stopping it from being even more generic were Phil Hartman’s performance and the conceptual design, but there was nowhere near enough to make this game stand with the best of the era in any respect. 

 

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In summation, Blasto was disappointing back in the day and has not stood the test of time. It has a couple of redeeming values, but nothing for it to be considered a classic. 

Score

37/60

6/10 (Average)

Shot in the Dark (PC)

Developer(s) – Possum House Games

Publisher(s) – Possum House Games

PEGI – Not yet rated (strong violence)

 

Release by indie outfit Possum House Studios based in Rochester, New York, Shot in the Dark is a western side-scrolling shoot ‘em up game whereby players must adapt to a black and white 8-BIT rendered universe (similar to Possum House’s previous title Heavy Is The Crown), in order to keep a sharp eye out to defeat oncoming demonic enemies that are hiding in the fog or in the night skies, ranging from gargoyles to undead gunslingers. Although I found a few faults with the game, I ended up enjoying it for the most part and appreciating it for its own unique take on the traditional 2D platformer genre.

 

Graphics – 6.5/10

The game makes use of 8-BIT visuals in black and world with specks of red; in conceptual design, it’s quite similar to MadWorld, which I was quite impressed by. The gripe I have with the visuals is that the character sprites, most notably the human or skeleton sprites, are made to look quite basic in comparison to many other 8-BIT rendered indie games, such as Cathedral or Alwa’s Awakening. To go along with the tableau of the game it may have been an idea to add grey colors to it to not only make the game more playable in general, as players are reliant on keen eyesight to detect enemies as it is but to also make more environmental features stand out to a better degree.

 

Gameplay – 6.5/10

The game is a 2D platformer similar to games developed during the third generation of gaming, with the difference being that it focuses on gun combat as well as precise platforming, with players having to shoot through hordes of enemies that are hidden across the level. The strategy the player must employ is to not rush through levels and instead keep their eyes peeled for enemies that roam each level and that are easily concealed by environmental features such as mist or skies. It’s kind of like how Super Mario Bros may have been if the idea was kept in for Mario to have a gun. But of course, this game provides its own take on that idea, and for the most part, it works relatively well. 

 

Controls – 7/10

The game’s control scheme was most definitely the biggest issue I had with this title. It’s designed to be played using a keyboard to input commands such as jumping, shooting, and reloading, and the mouse to aim the crosshair, but it doesn’t work all that well with a keyboard; it’s because of the fact that this was how the game was intended to be played that that doesn’t even work great with a traditional controller either. The reload system was put in to provide players with the added challenge of studying each environment to determine as and how they need to conserve ammo, but for the most part, it’s much more of a hindrance if anything. Since there’s no time limit to each level like a traditional platformer, mercifully, the game’s control scheme doesn’t make it unplayable, but needlessly frustrating at certain times. 

 

Lifespan – 6/10

The game has a fair few stages to it, and it lasts around the standard amount of time for a game of its ilk to last; around an hour or two. There could’ve been some replay value to be added to it, such as unlockable features or a scoring system to give the player a little more to shoot for, so to speak, but I can’t bring myself to knock it too much in terms of lifespan since some of the greatest 2D side scrollers throughout the years have been developed to last there around the same amount of time. 

 

Storyline – 6/10

Again, like many games of the third generation, there is no standout story, only a basic premise. It would’ve done far better to stand out during the NES era, but since the western genre has been tackled in video games, particularly in recent years, it does relatively well to stand out in terms of story concept, but not overly well. The story makes me think of the game Darkwatch but in 2D.

 

Originality – 8/10

The main aspect in which this game does quite wek=ll to stand out in, however, as in its basic gameplay concept. There have been side scrollers reliant on gun combat before, but not quite like in the way it’s handled in this title. For all I’ve complained about it in this review, this game does have some redeeming value, and there is enough enjoyment for players to have to warrant at least one playthrough. 

 

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Overall, Shot in the Dark, despite the gripes I’ve addressed, is a fairly enjoyable game and worth playing through at least once. It will provide quite a stern challenge for the more avant-garde side-scrolling fan, and it has a distinctive charm to it in its own right.  

Score

40/60

6.5/10 (Above Average)