Average User Score: 6.6Oct 7, 2014The Pinball FX franchise has breathed new life into the pinball genre in the same way Telltale Game's The Walking Dead reinvigorated the long neglected point and click adventure genre.
I've always kind of had a middling view of pinball tables. Back in the golden era of Arcades, there was always something more deserving of my quarter. Pinball FX has blown that preconception out of the water. All of the tables have a mission structure and a series of goals. When combined with several popular IP's (Marvel Universe, The Walking Dead, Star Wars) you get a gameplay experience that expands upon the premise in several unexpected ways.
The free table (the Sorcerer's Lair) is just okay, and not representative of the quality in some of the other boards. Some of my personal favorites are, Blade, Moon Knight, Planet Hulk, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, The Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy and Epic Quest.
Epic Quest has a persistent RP leveling system that last between plays. You start with a near naked hero and complete quests to grind out better gear for him. It's a really neat idea that adds tremendous replay value to the board.
I started playing Pinball FX on my 360, and was pleasantly surprised to see that I could transfer all of my purchased tables to the Xbox One. A great value for those concerned about the system upgrade.
The table packs run $10 for 3-4 boards and there are single boards for $3. It's a great value for any pinball enthusiast, and I've purchased nearly every board. I used to compete with my friends to see who could get the highest score on a board, and there is another stat called 'Wizard Score' that tracks your score across all the boards you own. a fun competitive angle to add to the desire to rack up highscores.
If you like Pinball, you'd be foolish not to check this title out. If you don't like Pinball, I'd still recommend picking up the free table. Be careful though, you might start out like myself, with a so-so opinion of pinball in general, and then find yourself writing glowing reviews after having dumped dozens of hours into the game!… Expand
Average User Score: 5.7Oct 7, 2014A poor man's GTA, Watch Dogs is hamstringed by both it's lack of vision and execution.
There is much more wrong with the experience than is right, and it turns out that a cellphone is a poor substitute for a handgun. I swallowed my hesitation (after reading the user reviews) and went out and picked up the title, I sincerely wish that I'd saved my money. The driving/parkour/combat/gunplay are all loose and gimmicky. The stealth system is a borderline joke and the minigames are so lacking in context/fun that I'd rather spend the time flossing.
Aiden has to be the least likable protagonist I've encountered in quite some time. He's a standard 'gruff & nondescript white guy' without a glimmer of charisma or nuance. A real lowest common denominator portrayal of a tough guy. His motivations are contrary to themselves (I've got to stop this criminal from beating on this woman, but on the way there, I'm going to steal all this single mother's money from her bank account) and on the whole, it's not a pleasant on convincing experience to embody him.
Given the hype machine for this game prior to its release, I was very disappointed with the graphics/story/characters/gameplay. Perhaps this is the first in a long series of games in which the sequels will be able to build upon the source material and create compelling experiences, ala the Assassin's Creed franchise. Right now, it's a failed tech demo, that doesn't have enough (read: any) redeeming quality to merit a recommendation.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.9Oct 7, 2014Like the sorority girl you wish you hadn't started a conversation with at that party, Ryse: Son of Rome is both beautiful and utterly lacking depth or vision.
First, the positive: Ryse: Son of Rome is the most beautiful game I've yet played in the 'Next Gen'. The architecture of Rome is presented gloriously. I spent many a minute studying a statue or intricate pattern on the marble inlay of a grand hall. The textures are incredibly high fidelity, and do not lose any of their luster when examined closely. The lighting engine is glorious, with motes of dust suspended in shafts of sunlight and sparks whipping through the air above a fire. Truly a spectacle to behold, especially in the more chaotic battle scenes, where mighty catapults fling flaming boulders into the splintering decks of triremes charging towards a shore wreathed in battle and blood.
Unfortunately, graphical fidelity is where my praise for the title ends. There is little to be done in the game that hasn't been well trod by developers with a superior footing. The combat is a standard hack and slash/QTE execution affair, and you will have seen all of those within the first 30 minutes. The story is overly reliant on well worn tropes (be prepared to avenge the death of family members you won't remember the names of a full minute after they're butchered) and the whole affair is bogged down in the mire that is the repetitive nature of the tasks you are presented with.
Curiously, the game chooses to use ACTUAL historical figures in the presentation of the story. I say curiously, as anyone with a passing knowledge of Roman History will find the references to Oswald, Nero, Boudica et al at odds with the time periods in which they existed and the nature of their ACTUAL character/demeanor/motivations. Hard to feel like a hero (or even an antihero) in the narrative when you have a hand in Rome's interactions with Boudica (to cite but a single example of the required cognitive dissonance to get anything from the story).
On the whole, Ryse is a game that bears a rental, assuming you've an interested in sheer spectacle, but otherwise fails to maintain anything resembling engagement when taken as a whole. There is also a cooperative multiplayer arena mode, but I found myself so disinterested in the title 3/4's the way through, that I didn't even bother to give it a look.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.7Sep 30, 2014The best video game set in Middle Earth I've yet played, not as though that statement sets a high bar (excluding the adorable LEGO franchise titles).
It's a game that wears its inspiration prominently on its sleeve, and has managed to cobble key elements of other franchises together into a tasty dish of its own. The open world exploration of the Assassin's Creed franchise, the timed combo combat system from the Batman: Arkham series, mixed in with a standard set of RPG leveling systems make for a compelling and visceral experience.
The real icing on the cake though has to be the 'Nemesis System', a feature not liberally borrowed from anywhere else in gaming. You're tasked with traveling Mordor and killing Sauron's minions, Orcs and Uruk-Hai, predominately.
As you kill your way through the ranks, you'll invariably be tasked with taking down a Warchief or Captain in Sauron's dark legion. Should you succeed, a lesser Uruk-Hai will fill the vacuum, becoming a Captain or Warchief themselves and earning a title. You you be bested by an Uruk Captain and slain, they gain status amongst their peers and will both become higher level (and more difficult to slay) and recall your last encounter, taunting you with your failure.
This creates a very distinct adversarial relationship between you and a Warchief that has managed to best you a couple of times. Very rarely before in my gaming life have I wanted to kill a character in the game as much as I have a couple of the Uruk-Hai. You combine their taunts with a distinct personality and visual aesthetic, and they become targets in their own right, regardless of their bearing on the story proper.
The game receives an 8 out of 10 from me, because there have been a few AI/graphical issues in my many hours with the game so far. It's definitely got an excellent depth and immense replay value, but it does still fall short of gaming perfection.
On the whole, this is my current 'Game of the Year' contender, though I do expect it to be dethroned by something or another in the glut of Holiday releases coming down the pipe. I definitely recommend the title for fans of Middle Earth, Assassin's Creed or the Batman titles, as it combines the three into a flashy bit of swordplay and decapitated Uruk-Hai.
If you don't care for the titles referenced or the universe, and don't feel inspired by the 'Nemesis System', you'll probably be a bit more on the fence about it than I am. I do feel comfortable giving it a healthy recommendation for all other (mature) gamers.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.7Sep 30, 2014Well below the hype and completely devoid of endgame content, Destiny proves itself a shadow of what it said it was on the tin. Bungivision said to ignore the day one reviews, as the game only really started when you hit the 'soft' level cap of 20. Terrible advice, if ever there was any.
By the time you reach level 20 (or level 29, which is where I found myself as I went to trade in the title while it was still worth $30), you've already seen everything in the game, more than once, with the exception of a single 'raid', the Vault of Glass. You only get rewarded for running the raid once a week, leaving there nothing to do in a PvE sense that has not already been seen and experienced dozens of times.
The PvP is serviceable, but runs into some pronounced balancing issues, and is a shadow of it's obvious inspiration, the Halo franchise. It is obvious that the departure of key Bungie staff and the hard deadline set by Activision (to capitalize on the unique multi-generational marketshare this fall) gutted this game. There is a Reddit AMA from an alleged developer that confirms that the game that was released doesn't reflect the game they spent 8 years on and one can only assume that they'll include the additional (read: missing) content in paid DLC's, if at all.
I would recommend looking elsewhere to kick off your holiday gaming glut, as there are several titles coming out with a much more refined vision/pedigree. The gunplay IS very solid, and your every bullet feels as though it has weight and impact, but that ultimately wasn't enough to carry me farther than the first 2 1/2 weeks of playtime. Bungie has often touted the 10 year plan for the universe, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to find this the only title in the franchise.
On the whole, despite the solid shooting mechanics, I was rather disappointed at the lack of content/story, and can't help but feel a little mislead by the advertising. I can't in good conscious recommend this to anyone who is looking for a game with legs/follow through, or someone expecting the excellence of Bungie's previous efforts.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.9Apr 27, 2012The revolution that the Point & Click Adventure genre has been in desperate need of. As a fan of the graphic novels (and a person disappointed with the direction they've taken the subject matter in the show) I can say that I am very pleased at the return to form presented in this game. Some people will gripe (as has already been demonstrated) that it is not a shooter, or an free roaming, open world game. This is because they either dislike the classic point and click adventure games (Sam & Max, Monkey Island Franchise, Loom), or they've simply never played them. The puzzles in the game are less challenging in this title than the other franchises I mentioned, but it keep the pace moving at a steady (and tense) clip. I highly recommend this Episode (and probably the whole series) to anyone who is a fan of either Point & Click Adventure titles or the Graphic Novels. For the rest of you, there are the MW3's and Mass Effects to keep you busy (but you're missing out on a gripping and novel gaming experience). Yes there are Quick Time Events, but they are done so expertly, that each one seems to have you making it through by the skin of your teeth. There is nothing quite like having to kick a zombie in the face while scrambling backwards and desperately searching for anything you can use to beat it to death. The gore is excellently done and every featured zombie is unique and well crafted. In summation, if the Episodes continue to be this length, you're going to get 20+ hours out of it. Given the gravity of the choices so far, the excellent character development and all the possible alternative outcomes, I can't thin of a better way to spend $20.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.4Apr 17, 2012Perhaps the first "Mature" rated game I've ever played to deserve the rating. While it is far from perfect (I'm looking at you, archaic menu system/Stilted combat), it is perhaps singlehandedly restoring my faith in Video Games as a medium in which a developer can approach adult subject matter with nuance. When making choices in this game, I've been amazed as the gray area one can tread in. Gone are the diametrically opposed (and cartoonish) "good" vs "evil" choices of other RPG's (Mass Effect, Star Wars: The Old Republic). In their place lay decisions that carry great gravitas and perhaps more importantly, have motivations with which you can identify. In too many games, I feel as though I'm making an arbitrary decision between being an unrealistic portrayal of "good" vs "evil", hamfistedly engaging in acts that beat my character into one of two dichotomous roles. Not so here at all. If combat was a little smoother and the game had a slightly lower barrier for entry (be prepared to learn some lore, if you didn't check out the first title) it would be getting a well deserved 10, as it stands currently, 9 all the way.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.9Sep 6, 2011The 360 version features broken matchmaking for the vast majority of players. One should not be surprised at the broken network code, considering that these are the same artisans that shat out the deplorable Call of Juarez: The Cartel (47/100 on Metacritic at the time of this writing). The Chrome engine is dated and can't handle spawning more than 5 zombies at a time. There is no suspense, as money is plentiful and all the loot respawns with a great frequency. Do not buy this game before reading the Edge Magazine review. If, after reading their litany of (spot on) complaints you still feel like playing it, rent it from Gamefly (or, better yet, check yourself into an institution). I don't generally write reviews for games (especially negative ones) but this is the most ripped off I have felt with a game purchase in the last 5 years. I had my reservations, but seeing the fairly positive reviews, swallowed them and went ahead and got it. Should have gone with my gut. As an added bonus, if your pre-ordered the game on Steam, you got a broken dev version that they now have to repair (making your DLC, save games, and game data corrupt in the process). That is the general level of competency you can expect from Techland and Deep Silver.… Expand