Average User Score: 7.3Jan 29, 2014Detective Grimoire was one of my favorite online mystery games. Not only was the mystery intriguing, but the characters were all memorable andDetective Grimoire was one of my favorite online mystery games. Not only was the mystery intriguing, but the characters were all memorable and unique, offering dozens of conversation topics and realistic interrogations. However, my greatest enjoyment of the game came from the fact that you felt in the driver's seat. You were the one who found the clues, pieced them together, and made your deductions with no help from a nagging narrator or omniscient plot-spoiler. That being said, I was elated to find Detective Grimoire on the App Store, since I assumed that the trailer I had seen years ago never came to fruition. So, is Grimoire's spiritual successor a worthy sequel or a lackluster app?
For starters, when I first saw the design of the app I didn't know what to think. The backgrounds and atmosphere looked unbelievable, with a beautiful color scheme and that perfect blend of abstraction. My problem was with the minimalistic designs of the characters. Unlike the relatively more realistic models of the original game, this Grimoire has an overwhelmingly cartoonish and simplistic approach to the characters. Very little shading or detail is done on the models, which I assumed would be a major letdown considering a majority of the gameplay involves talking with the characters. However, I was surprised at how much I grew to love the design and fluid animations each character possessed, as well as the top-notch voice work that accompanied each one. Edwyn Tiong, a moderately famous voice in online gaming, flawlessly voices Grimoire, possessing a delightful mix of sarcasm and cluelessness that made the character memorable in the original. In fact, the entire cast is stellar, each providing life and emotion to their characters, no matter how insignificant their role is to the narrative. This, along with a mesmerizing, yet haunting, score creates the perfect atmosphere for the mystery.
The gameplay is also top-notch, though lacks the intuitiveness of its predecessor. You still play the role of the detective, interviewing witnesses, finding clues scattered about the dilapidated swamp, and piecing together deductions until the murderer has revealed itself. However, in this game you are much more restricted in your detective work. There is no way to fail and the game always tells you where to go next, unlike the original where you explored until everything you needed had been found. Additionally, the mystery is much less perplexing than in the original game. Once you encounter the villain, you know it's going to be the villain simply because none of the other suspects had the motivation for murder. While in the original game there were tense relationships between suspects, bitter feuds, and backstabbing that left no one safe from interrogation, people are eliminated after mere seconds into their conversations due to the sheer improbability of them committing a crime. There are other minor flaws, such as game freezing and bugs, but none significantly detract from the experience. Despite these let-downs, interrogation and discovering clues are still a blast due to the incredibly witty dialogue and Grimoire's undeniable charm, keeping the gameplay fresh from your first steps off the boat to the mysterious cliffhanger.
In the end, Detective Grimoire's first iOS experience is a success. Despite the occasional bug and the freedom that made the original game so memorable, Grimoire's beautiful atmosphere, addictive detective work, and incredible voice-overs make it a necessity for any gamers longing for an engaging mystery.
Average User Score: 7.7Jan 21, 2014Arkham Origins is a troubled game. It possesses a fantastic story that establishes the perfect foundation for the Arkham universe. In fact,Arkham Origins is a troubled game. It possesses a fantastic story that establishes the perfect foundation for the Arkham universe. In fact, this is probably one of my favorite Dark Knight tales out there, creating a thrilling back story that flawlessly demonstrates the excitement and repercussions of Batman's first encounter with the Joker. The gameplay is still solid in most regards, inheriting the same fluid fighting mechanics that made the Arkham games some of the best action games ever made. Boss battles have been fine-tuned to perfection, making each fight gripping and challenging, sharply contrasting those in the previous two Arkham titles. Even the acting is great, with fantastic performances by both Roger Craig Smith as the Caped Crusader and Troy Baker, the best voice actor of 2013, portraying a younger, volatile, and deliciously psychotic Joker that even rivals the work of Mark Hamill in the original games.
With all this praise, it seems like Origins would be another stellar Batman experience. But it's not.
Origins is a good game marred by repetitiveness and unwelcome additions that hold it back from being a truly memorable experience. For instance, the combat features the new Shock Gloves, along with all of your favorite old gadgets. These new weapons can destroy any shield or break any barrier standing between you and your foes, causing you to ridiculously overpower anyone who stands in your path. In Arkham City, each fight against a new foe, such as the ninjas from the League of Shadows, required planning and different combos in order to take down the opposition. Here, you can mash the square button once the gloves are powered, quickly ruining any enjoyment or challenge to the campaign by giving you a practically automatic victory. The fighting feels much shoddier in this game as well. While City's battles felt like I was establishing a rhythm with each broken bone, Origins' fights are a struggle just to connect Batman's fists to the skulls of the street thugs. Not only do punches consistently miss their marks, but rooms can also become packed as well. In one of the later fights, enemies start randomly spawning at exponential rates, making it nearly impossible to focus on the fight, as well as causing the game to lag.
Arkham Origins' Gotham feels like a hollow version of Arkham City's masterful open world. Not all grappling points are functional, forcing you to think of alternate routes to seemingly accessible locations. What's worse about traversal, though, is the fact that you have to cross a long bridge when journeying from one end of the map to the next. This becomes extremely frustrating, since the game offers a fast-travel system via the Batwing that allows you to skip over these segments. Arkham City's world was fun to explore and full of secrets, making you want to soar over rooftops and plunge into alleyways to search for every last Easter egg. Here, the world is barren, featuring no incentive to explore or enjoy the near clone of the original open world, which is a striking missed opportunity.
Overall, the greatest sin Arkham Origins commits is the fact that it's not an entertaining experience. Aside from the engaging plot, nearly everything that made Arkham City a masterpiece has been unnecessarily edited to fit the canon or just flat out dropped altogether. Riddle trophies and puzzles have been replaced by randomly scattered extortion packs, which require little to no skill to obtain and are extremely disappointing. Similarly, most of the side missions are copied and pasted from City, swapping the villains that are involved to make it seem novel. Even Detective Mode, which on the outset looked like an intuitive new gameplay feature to compliment the blood-pumping combat, is a monotonous quest searching for red triangles instead of legitimate investigation.
When all is said and done, Arkham Origins is a game that should be played. The narrative is intense and occasionally unbelievable. Sadly, however, it doesn't receive the solid gameplay accompaniment it deserves. Too often I found myself wondering about what the game could have been, rather than enjoy the campaign I was playing. Fighting is fresh, but new additions cause the experience to feel much more hollow and less rewarding than in prior games, making you feel more like a player than the actual Dark Knight. While the flawless story, voice acting, and boss fights soar, the rest of Arkham Origins holds the game back from becoming the Batman prequel that the gaming industry truly deserves.
Average User Score: 7.3Jan 4, 2014Injustice: Gods Among Us has the potential to be one of the greatest fighting apps ever made. However, even with the creativity in characterInjustice: Gods Among Us has the potential to be one of the greatest fighting apps ever made. However, even with the creativity in character designs and arenas, there is nothing to really get engaged in. Like most of the DC apps, the game gets repetitive within the first hour of playing, using delays between fights to coerce fans into buying upgrades and boosters. This game is the biggest example of greed hidden in design. Once you reach a certain point in the game, it becomes impossible to win fights simply because of the unfair tiers for the different characters: gold, silver, and bronze. The higher level is significantly better off than the lower ones, and normally too expensive to buy. So, unless you want to repeat the beginning levels for hours to gain coins and eventually buy a useful character, there is really no point to playing this game. Once again, DC ruins a potentially addictive fighter due to their own selfishness. As a fighter, it's fun and the characters each feel unique and stylized. But the game is too repetitive, and too focused on profit over content, to forgive.
Average User Score: 6.4Jan 3, 2014Clash of Clans is incredibly addictive but loses its freshness after a few days in. The concept of world-building and interactions with otherClash of Clans is incredibly addictive but loses its freshness after a few days in. The concept of world-building and interactions with other players is fantastic and fully realized, and I loved tearing apart enemy forts with my legions of barbarians. However, the problem the game is not in the gameplay, but in the time. After a certain point, it takes multiple days to build or upgrade necessary structures, therefore making it impossible to progress without tediously waiting for your builders to finish their tasks. This is clearly a marketing ploy for the player to buy gems which can be used to hire more builders and speed up construction. Advertising as blatantly obvious as this really ruin the enjoyment of the game and prevents me from constantly coming back to my kingdom. Instead, I buy the upgrade and ignore the game until I get notified days later that the construction was completed or my fort had been decimated by a much more powerful player. In the end, Clash of Clans is definitely worth the download and will undeniably suck you in. However, any lasting impression or immersion is lost as soon as the time increments between building projects rise, making the app more focused on profit than the actual experience.
Average User Score: 7.2Jan 3, 2014Device 6 could be the strangest thirty minutes I've ever spent on an app. Never before has a game provided such an illogical premise with anDevice 6 could be the strangest thirty minutes I've ever spent on an app. Never before has a game provided such an illogical premise with an ending that snaps every piece of the puzzle in perfect harmony. The game is unique in both presentation and control, producing a shockingly realistic atmosphere by using the narrative as your guide through the world. There are many puzzles throughout the game that require both intelligence and creativity to solve, one of which left me stumped for a good ten minutes until the answer almost slapped me in the face. While extremely short, Device 6 is one of a kind. No other game can match its mystery and innovative design, making it one of the best apps of 2013 and one of the most thought-provoking experiences you'll ever come across.
Average User Score: 8.5Jan 2, 2014All That Remains is a welcome return to the Walking Dead universe but not the one I necessarily wanted. The added emphasis on Clementine andAll That Remains is a welcome return to the Walking Dead universe but not the one I necessarily wanted. The added emphasis on Clementine and the references to your struggles as Lee really bridge the gap between seasons. The shocking opening and nail-biting conclusion, as well as several horrifying feats of survival, really make the game worth it. But in many areas the first episode feels like a missed opportunity. The gameplay is not refined and many awkward swiping motions led to unnecessary deaths. The graphics feel off in plenty of areas and the game is perpetually laggy throughout the hour-long journey. However, All That Remains definitely shows promise for future success. I enjoyed most of the new characters and I see plenty of potential conflicts for nail-biting decisions in the coming months. While Clementine's first spotlight isn't a masterpiece, her story and evolution is more than worth the price of admission.
Average User Score: 8.5Jan 2, 2014Bioshock Infinite is a fantastic game and one of my favorite experiences of 2013. The floating city of Columbia, with its extremely vibrantBioshock Infinite is a fantastic game and one of my favorite experiences of 2013. The floating city of Columbia, with its extremely vibrant artistic design and old-timey feel reminiscent of Disney World's Main Street, is one of the most memorable video game worlds to explore. I loved walking down the street listening to a barbershop quartet and watching the different floating islands weave throughout the clouds in all their majestic glory. The story is also nearly unrivaled in all of video games, starring Troy Baker as the lovable yet mysterious Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton agent tasked to finding and retrieving a girl named Elizabeth to repay an old debt. While the chemistry doesn't come close to matching that of Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us, both lead characters are extremely memorable and leave a lasting impression long after the credits roll. Elizabeth herself is a technical marvel, interacting with the environment to not only instill an incredible sense of realism, but also aid you in your journey by providing vital ammunition and health kits when your inventory runs dry. This trick is unbelievably useful to the player during tough fighting sequences, along with Elizabeth's special power of opening tears into other dimensions and pulling in useful allies or new weapons to manipulate. All of these benefits make Elizabeth one of the greatest sidekicks ever conceived, especially when considering her charming innocence but surprising cleverness, as seen by her philosophical quotes and lock picking abilities. By establishing two incredible leads, Irrational Games has crafted an experience that warrants multiple playthroughs, especially when the ending puts the entire narrative into a whole new perspective. The graphics also look gorgeous, but more of on an artistic level rather than a technical. Again I find myself comparing the game to the Last of Us, whose superb facial animations and movements cannot be beaten.
On the downside, Bioshock Infinite has noticeable flaws. While the combat is engaging, it does get extremely repetitive during the midsection of the story. It feels like your standard formula of walking to a room, shooting up enemies, rinse and repeat. The skyline system, which was intended to spice up gameplay by changing combat locations and offering new shooting locations, are nauseating to use and make it impossible to lock onto your targets. In addition, I found myself rarely changing guns or Vigors, drinks that offer special combat powers, as the ones provided for me in the beginning were powerful enough to get me through the game with ease. Instead of enjoying the gameplay, I tried rushing through levels just to advance the incredible story. While there are several other nitpicks (not being able to fight the massive Songbird, overwhelming numbers of foes with little ammunition, a repetitive overall soundtrack, background characters that ruin the immersion by repeating their actions) I could focus on, none of them truly detract from the experience.
Bioshock Infinite is a game that needs to be seen to be believed. The atmosphere is unparalleled, the lead characters are unforgettable, and the ending will leave you begging to return to Columbia for another adventure. While some aspects of the game need fine-tuning (especially in the gameplay department) and it falls short of the high upper class of gaming, it is still one of the best adventures I've ever played in a long time. There's definitely a better game awaiting in the sky.
Average User Score: 8.4Dec 29, 2013There are some moments in gaming where you just know right off the bat that you are in for an incredible experience. No doubt is in your mindThere are some moments in gaming where you just know right off the bat that you are in for an incredible experience. No doubt is in your mind as you take your first step into the great unknown of a new adventure. When Mass Effect's title screen first appeared, and I heard the beautiful galactic overture that now rests on my iPod whenever I need it, I knew that I was in for an unbelievable ride.
Mass Effect is an amazing game from start to finish and quite possibly my favorite RPG of all time. You play Commander Shepard, a military hero who has just been promoted to an elite group of crime-fighters known as the Specters. Your first mission is to find a rogue agent named Saren, not only uncovering his diabolical plans for the Citadel but also establishing faith in the human race. The greatest aspect of the game is the way your decisions impact the narrative. Every conversation and choice you make impacts the way your crew views you, as well as the rest of the galaxy. You can be a peace-seeking hero who resolves conflicts with words before fists or a ruthless renegade who decimates anyone or anything in his path. While it would have been nice to have a middle ground (it is imperative that you choose one side or the other in order to unlock crucial conversation options) or even a system of conversing where the good and bad options weren't spelled out for you (like in the Walking Dead), Mass Effect makes you feel in the driver's seat. This is YOUR story, and your friends will live or die based on your decisions.
Combat is engaging and fully functional. There are very few fighting bugs ad each battle, whether it be drones or reanimated human corpses called Husks, is a blast. One of the greatest features of the game is the amount of depth in its customization mode. Everything you own, from your armor to your weapon to the bullets that you fire, can be changed and traded based on your personal preference. While tedious at times, the result is an added sense of immersion that makes you feel like you are your own unique soldier.
In addition, your interactions with your allies are impeccably done. Each character feels real in its own right and each difficult choice you make throughout the game has a visible impact on each one. You can even romance one of your crewmates in genuinely touching scenes of affection, all of which carries over into the next installment.
Despite all these incredible features, Mass Effect does carry drawbacks. Side missions and planetary exploration on your little rover is incredibly dull and repetitive. Each base is a carbon copy of the last and there is little variety between each mission. In addition, the system of currency in the game is beyond broken. Since you keep each individual piece of equipment you come across, you can sell a majority of your inventory for an easy profit, thereby allowing you to buy the best weapons in the game early on. On top of all this, the characters themselves are, for the most part, bland. Apart from Garrus, Tali, and Liara, the rest of the game's characters left no impact on my expedition. In fact, during one scene I had to choose between two of the characters who I felt no attachment to, feeling like a missed opportunity since it could have featured an extremely difficult decision rather than a flip of the coin. Also, the PS3 port has strange graphical problems such as awkward textures and downright bizarre facial animations.
Nearly all of these bugs are excusable when you see the finished result. Mass Effect is a timeless space odyssey that will make you really think about the impact you want to leave on this world. The choices you make travel throughout the rest of the trilogy, so each saved life and bullet fired means a lot in the long run. So be prepared when boarding the Normandy. You are in for a journey that lives or dies with you, and never before has the weight of the galaxy rested on your shoulders. Good luck.
Average User Score: 8.3Dec 28, 2013Those blue shells...
Mario Kart Wii is a fun game that uses the Wii's motion control well to a certain extent. The race tracks are varied andThose blue shells...
Mario Kart Wii is a fun game that uses the Wii's motion control well to a certain extent. The race tracks are varied and colorful and offer plenty of death-defying jumps and game-changing turns. But, beneath the vibrant environments that Mario Kart has to offer, the experience as a whole is both short and shallow. Each track loses its spark after a race or two and there is just no reason to keep playing the campaign unless you are a completionist who needs to have every trophy in his possession. There is no clear advantage or disadvantage to any one racer, feeling like a wasted opportunity. In addition, no customization or skill points for one's Miis is a considerable letdown. But Mario Kart's worst offense is its perpetual frustration in regards to enemy AI. This game is one of those few titles that a player can deem "cruelly unfair." Once you go deeper into the game, the competitions no longer depend on skill or driving ability but how lucky you are in regards to the number of blue shells blowing up in your face. The last race I played before discarding Mario Kart for a long time had me in first place mere feet from the finish line. A string of three shells fired at me in rapid succession dropped me from a first place victory to a 10th place embarrassment, and serves as a lasting reminder of my experience with the game. Mario Kart Wii is hit or miss, but is guaranteed to frustrate even the most skilled of drivers. There are genuinely enjoyable co-op moments and a few incredible tracks, but the difficulty spike is just too infuriating to overcome.
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Average User Score: 7.9Dec 28, 2013This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Kid just sits there and thinks for a while. What was his life like before playing Bastion? Was it true his expectations for adventure apps were completely redefined? Yeah... Well, let's explain why.
Bastion could be one of the most complete packages on the App Store, featuring an incredible story, addictive gameplay that anyone can pick up and enjoy, and the most beautiful art direction I've ever seen in a video game. The narrative is virtually flawless and the themes of rebuilding is a poignant message that anyone can relate to. As you play as the Kid, fighting across the land in search of Cores and Shards while listening to the incredible voice of Rucks the narrator, the Bastion grows stronger and stronger and makes you feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment. As for the soundtrack, it's flawless. Every song fits the level it's placed in, and "Build That Wall" could be one of the greatest video game songs ever made, both beautiful and haunting at the same time. The only flaw in the game can be seen in the gameplay. While it is addictive and boasts a wide selection of guns and weapons to mow down enemies with, the formula does get repetitive at times. However, the game never feels dull as the narrations and plot twists always keep you on your toes even when the scene feels safest.
Kid wants to make one thing very clear: Bastion is one of the few apps in the App Store that is essential to own. Not only does it have an unparalleled beauty and incredibly addictive gameplay, but it also leaves a profound impact that only a good story can truly provide. At the end of the extensive campaign, as I had to make an incredibly difficult choice between a chance to undo the past or remain with the friends I had grown so attached to, I realized then how much the game really meant to me. I didn't want it to end. And before I had to say goodbye, I walked through the Bastion one final time, as I emotionally recalled all of the fond memories that mere hours could provide. I found the gramophone and played my favorite melody one last time. "I dig my hole, you build a wall...One day that wall is gonna fall..."
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