Average User Score: 8.4Apr 22, 2014Okay, I will give Skyrim the obligatory recommendation. What’s there to say? Another sprawling Bethesda epic.
The only somewhat legitimate criticism I’ve seen about Skyrim is regarding how Bethesda tends to release games full of bugs thinking that users will come up with mod fixes. I don’t know about that as I can’t say I’ve ever played a Bethesda title I considered broken. What I will say is that users in the Steam Workshop have come up with some truly incredible mods. Deducting a point from Bethesda is one way to look at it but I say giving people the freedom to use Steam Workshop gives them a point right back. The fact that it is a game so many people feel compelled to create so many mods for speaks volumes. Bethesda must be doing something right.
One of these days I need to actually go back and finish it…… Expand
Average User Score: 8.4Apr 22, 2014Deus Ex: HR is a fantastic game. I liked it much more than I thought I would.
The story is pretty good except that they don’t do a good enough of selling the main conflict. I don’t see the big deal about being a cyborg. It certainly beats being dead, which is what the main character would be w/out augment technology. Also, all of the multiple endings fell flat for me. They are basically FMV stock footage with narration about what happened.
Everything else is spot on, though: graphics, music, voice acting, and especially gameplay. Some people criticize Deus Ex: HR b/c they think there are too many upgrades available and you can max out too many stats. I say those people need to get over themselves. If they’re so hardcore they can either not collect the upgrades (many of which are optional) or simply not apply them.
Games like this make me wonder how & why people are still playing Metal Gear Solid. This has actual, real stealth-based gameplay and figuring out ways to knock out or kill people and hide their bodies is part of the fun. Controls are tight and movement is fluid, unlike in MGS games. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone having a bad time playing this game.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Apr 22, 2014I don’t get all the hatred that’s been directed at this game. I picked it up for $2 during a sale, and some professional game reviewers were warning to not even buy it at that price. Naturally, I had to see what all the fuss was about and…well…Alpha Protocol is really not a bad game.
Not terribly original (a cross between Splinter Cell & Mass Effect in the CIA) and the story isn’t particularly memorable but the gameplay is solid & enjoyable. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever played but it is most certainly not the worst, either. That is, it’s strange to me when professional media praises total garbage like Dragon Age 2 yet trashes Alpha Protocol.
I’ve seen other reviewers complain about the AI in Alpha Protocol and various other glitches. Never had any problem with either of those things. Graphics were nice, music and voice acting were both acceptable. The story is nothing groundbreaking and a bit predictable given the way espionage stories go these days (America is the REAL enemy! Dun dun dunnn!) but it’s still fun to engage in the different relationships and choices you can make which have a real impact on the plot. And the gameplay is the glue that holds everything together; not revolutionary but good enough.
The only drawback to Alpha Protocol is that it’s rather forgettable and you won’t have any reason to replay it unless you want to witness some of the multiple story paths. You can expect to spend somewhere around 20 hours and will have a good time during that, though. It’s a shame that this first entry got savaged because it really could have turned into a good series. Instead we have Assassin’s Creed Part 8 and Final Fantasy 13 Part 3. Oh well.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.6Apr 21, 2014Aside from the strongly anti-religious commentary found in FFX (which may offend or delight you), I will say that its narrative is quite excellent from a pure storytelling aspect. Hands-down the best in the series with several well-paced, shocking reveals that you don’t see coming and don’t feel contrived. If you play through it twice, you’ll notice a lot you missed the first time around and the ending will stay with you.
Gameplay wise, it’s fantastic. It feels like they took the best parts of each previous game and combined them. Some reviews say it feels outdated compared to modern RPGs. I disagree. It takes strategy and more than simple button mashing to beat. The sphere grid system: wow. Unique among RPGs. It gives you total control over how you develop each character and takes planning to prevent having to do a lot of backtracking. Endgame leveling is an unparalleled experience and more than simply finding the enemy who drops the most XP and fighting it repeatedly.
Additionally, each character has a role they follow for most of the game and you can switch them out at any given time during battle. This gives so much life to each character. It’s not like FF6 where you get your four favorites and leave everyone else on the airship or FF4 where the game dictates who is in your party every step of the way. It’s also the first in the series to have any sort of endgame content, especially with all the International Version additions. You can really open things up thanks to the unique sphere grid leveling system, which FF12 and 13 both sort of copied but did not equal.
The drawbacks: they ruined most of the music in the HD version by including some updated soundtrack instead of the OST. Many NPCs don’t hold up graphically, either. People like Cid & Shelinda look terrible. Some of the voice acting, too, is simply awful. FFX is also a much more linear game compared to the more open-world feel of earlier titles. I didn’t mind it b/c it’s not as bad as FF13. There are TONS of secrets to discover and I don’t mind “warping” to a destination in the airship versus having to manually fly it all over the map.
As for FFX-2…ugh. I have never cared for it. They took the very serious & solemn tone of FFX and turned it into some sort of J-pop, girl power, Disney Channel exhibition. The gameplay is pretty solid but man, getting through the story is incredibly annoying. Some scenes make me clench my teeth and shut my eyes until they’re over.
The music has its moments but is largely a step back from FFX. There aren’t many memorable tracks and this game, IMO, started the musical decline of the series which accelerated in 12 & 13. You will, however, notice large graphical improvements right off the bat. There are still areas not up to modern standards yet nothing that’s worse than what you see in FFX.
X-2’s gameplay, however, I can’t find much fault with. It can be jarring coming straight from FFX since it brings back the ATB meter but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The whole “dress sphere” thing is basically a cross between the job system from earlier games and the role-changing system from FF13. It is superior to both of these IMO, though.
X-2 also had quite a bit more added to its International version that FFX did. There is a whole new sub-game of monster capturing (similar to FF13-2) that allows creatures to fight in your party and you can even ultimately unlock cast members from the first game. There is even the extra “X-2: Last Mission” standalone game, which is affected by which ending you got from the main game. I haven’t touched that yet but from what I understand, it offers a kind of epilogue to the series.
Taken together these games easier offer between 200-400 hours of total play time, maybe more, depending on how deep you want to go. And all for $40? It’s more than worth it. If you’re not already a turn-based, JRPG fan this may not be your cup of tea. If you’re a Final Fantasy fan or already a fan of these games from the PS2 days, then you’ll be very satisfied despite a few blemishes.… Expand
Average User Score: 9.2Mar 18, 2014I’m going to recommend Half Life: Source to modern gamers but just barely. I never played it nor Half Life 2 back in the day, so I am completely unbiased by nostalgia. Both games have intrigued me for years, though, and I saw them together in a Steam sale bundle so decided to pick them up and finally play through them. Though a flawed release, HL: Source still shines thanks to its brilliant & pioneering design.
Yes, it was state of the art when it came out and a truly groundbreaking game for its time. But should people spend money & time to play it today? Despite the Source engine update, Half Life looks quite dated and is missing many modern FPS creature comforts we have come to take for granted. When I first fired the game up my initial thought was, “I can’t do this. It’s too old.” The polygon models are harsh. People’s hands look sharp enough to poke your eye out. The sound is downright terrible in some places. Environments are often sparse with low-res textures. It can also be difficult to tell whether or not you are damaging certain enemies.
So I took a break and came back to it. I’m happy to say I got hooked shortly afterward. Half Life is made so well, I was able to overlook its technical shortcomings and get immersed in Gordon’s flight from Black Mesa. The pace is frenetic, rarely giving you the chance to catch your breath. It’s a very intelligent shooter, also. There are many hidden areas, multiple paths, clever puzzles, and neat surprise moments along the way. You keep moving almost continuously to the very mysterious ending.
Which brings me to why I almost gave the title a thumbs down. The ending is deeply unsatisfying. After everything that happened I still only had the vaguest idea of what was going on. I think there was an accident in the lab that led to an alien invasion, with either the gov’t or privately contracted troops trying to destroy the entire facility to cover it up. And then, dude in suit with briefcase in the interdimensional train car. The end.
I have started Half Life 2 and while I love it so far, in terms of story it adds even more confusion to the narrative. Gordon Freeman is one of the most incurious people in the universe, never once pausing to ask anybody, “Hey, WTF is happening!?!?” I’m hoping more light gets shed on the plot as I progress through the sequel. You can only tease people for so long before they get bored.
From a pure gameplay standpoint, though, Half Life: Source will not disappoint. If you have never played it and can deal with outdated graphics & sound, go ahead & pick it up. If not, you can skip straight to Half Life 2 without missing much in the way of story. In other words, you’ll be just as confused at the beginning of HL2 whether you played through the first game or not.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.6Mar 14, 2014I really thought I wouldn’t like Euro Truck Simulator 2. I thought it was in the same vein as Farming Simulator, Street Sweeper Simulator, Snow Cat Simulator, etc. It’s not. This is a quality game with effort put into its design and I actually do enjoy it.
ETS2’s biggest positive is that it’s very relaxing to play. If I have a free hour and want to chill out, I will fire this up and do a quick trucking job or two. It also does a fair job in presenting you with different landscapes and varied scenery.
The downside is that the landscapes are not quite varied enough. The devs made a decent effort but after playing for a while, you will recognize all the reused set pieces such as highway interchanges, exit ramps, maintenance garages, and branches of companies where you accept jobs. And aside from driving on the left hand side of the street in England and some different background scenery, the experience on every highway and inside each city is virtually the same. Driving in Stuttgart is the same as driving in Paris is the same as driving in Rome. You won’t see the Eiffel Tower or Coliseum in the background nor any other famous streets, bridges or landmarks from any particular city. Likewise, every toll booth and rest stop are exactly the same, whether in Austria, the Netherlands or the Czech Republic.
It’s also missing visual damage to vehicles. Your truck can get damaged by accidents but none of it will show on the outside. Neither will it show up on any car you hit. Every once in a while I like to cause chaos by getting up a head of steam & swerving into oncoming traffic. It’s very unsatisfying when nothing much happens aside from traffic stopping. I know that sort of thing is more reserved for a title like GTA or Saints Row, but still.
The option of playing your own MP3s over the truck’s “radio” while driving was a great idea. Unfortunately, I found this to be a buggy feature. The game won’t play many of my MP3 files and I don’t know why.
To make up for these shortcomings, there is a very engaging career mode. The more deliveries you complete, the more experience you earn. This allows you to gain levels which in turn allows you to build up your driving skills to make more money, unlock new types of delivery jobs and unlock new options & upgrades you can buy for your truck.
Speaking of buying trucks, there are a lot to choose from, based on real life models from manufacturers like Volvo and DAF. They are expensive, but you can take out a loan from the bank if you want to get things rolling early on. You can also buy & upgrade various garages around Europe, buy more trucks, hire drivers to drive them, and all of this will end up earning you even more money.
I’m still in the early stages of the game as I only have the one truck of my own and am working on repaying a loan, but I’m looking forward to continuing to play this. It’s more of something I will progress in gradually rather than sitting down and trying to grind away at. It’s a very nice change of pace.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Mar 14, 2014Heavy Rain is a pretentious bore. Gameplay consists of quick time events, cutscenes, wandering around unsure of what to press the X button at, and interactive sequences about getting your kid a snack. Heavy Rain is not a game. It’s a mediocre video that occasionally prompts you to press buttons.
There are a few mildly interesting parts and the graphics are quite nice, but being more video than game means the whole thing needs to be carried by its story. Unfortunately, the story is lame and has a big reveal at the end that is just stupid. If Heavy Rain were an actual movie, it would be a forgettable box office bomb. There are several possible endings, but getting them entails going through the whole thing several times with a guide close at hand because unlocking some endings depends on stupid, hidden tasks like making your kid that snack within a certain amount of time. If that sounds like fun, knock yourself out.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.3Mar 13, 2014Superbrothers is to gaming what Adventure Time is to TV: something I just don’t get. Or maybe something you can only "get" if you're high.
Controls are bad, graphics are junk, music is forgettable, story is…well, I’m not sure there is a story aside from references to other games like Zelda. I thought this would be an amusing diversion for an evening but instead it put me to sleep. Literally. I struggled to finish the first part because I kept dozing off. Shocked at how many people are praising the visuals. It’s nothing but blocky pixels everywhere, allegedly arranged in “poetic” fashion. Whatever.
Superbrothers is sort of like Another World: there are action-type areas with puzzles mixed in. Except Another World is much better in every way, even the graphics, so you might as well play that instead. In fact, do anything else instead. If you have no other video game to play, read a book, surf the internet, eat a sandwich, exercise, anything. Your time will be better spent.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.8Mar 13, 2014I haven’t finished Giana Sisters: TD yet but got through the first boss. I am pleasantly surprised.
Other reviewers have already covered the basics: it’s a mix of old and new school platforming that does a lot of things right. I’d say it’s comparable to Super Meat Boy but GS:TD is a smarter platformer which much better graphics. There is more you can do in this game thanks to the ability switching and thus the levels are more engaging to play through with more secret areas to discover. The first few are laughably easy but before you know it the difficulty skyrockets. This is fine, though, because of responsive controls and a generous checkpoint system. You have infinite lives, too, but dying decreases your score. The music is nice and the changing scenery when switching between sisters looks beautiful. It's also very cheap. You get a whole lot for your money.
The only downside I can think of is that there isn’t anything in GS:TD that keeps me glued to my PC. It’s fun but after beating a couple of levels I am usually ready to do something else, and I don’t see myself shooting for perfect scores or trying hard or uber hard mode (but those things exist if you are so inclined). GS:TD is a title I will keep coming back to and playing in gradual doses rather than something I will devour right away b/c I can’t get enough of it. Still, it’s a high quality, well-made game coming from Greenlight/Kickstarter. Much higher caliber than other indie offerings I have played.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.3Mar 10, 2014I held off buying Strike Suit Zero for a long time because I figured there was no way it would be as cool as it looks. Seeing it on sale at Steam was the final nudge I needed to pull the trigger and I can now say it is actually cooler than it looks. I’m sorry I waited so long to pick up this title.
SSZ will appeal to anyone who was a fan of games like Rogue Squadron or Colony Wars on the PS One. It’s not quite up to level of depth that X-Wing or Wing Commander had since this is more arcade shooter than simulation. If you liked those games, though, I’d still recommend SSZ since the whole space dogfighting genre seems dead and you won’t find better nowadays. SSZ has fluid and intense gameplay with great graphics & music. Voice acting is spotty but not bad.
The controls may take a little getting used to but once you master them you’ll feel like a boss in the titular Strike Suit. Spamming your swam missiles has a very Robotech/Macross feel and never gets old. I played this with a Xbox 360 controller for PC and found the controls very tight & responsive. No idea what happened to some other reviewers who say the controls are clunky. They may be trying to play with keyboard & mouse but I learned long ago rule #1 of space shooter games is to bring a joystick or gamepad.
The missions have a nice variety and are thrilling to play through. The narrative is pretty solid, too, and keeps you interested in moving along. You get scored on each sortie and can also unlock a particular upgrade if certain optional goals are met. Once you beat a mission, you can replay it using any new fighter craft or weapons you’ve unlocked. Some people complain the missions get repetitive and are impossibly hard. I didn’t find them repetitive and they may be too hard if you don’t get any ship upgrades. I’ll admit I went back & switched the difficulty to easy mode to pick up a few, which is an option for anyone who thinks it’s too hard.
Best of all, there are checkpoints inserted into the sometimes lengthy missions. This is a welcome feature since you don’t have to keep replaying the same thirty minutes of a mission over & over again when only the last five minutes are giving you trouble. Checkpoints are frequently placed right at those optional parts required to unlock upgrades which again is very nice since, if you miss the optional goal, you do not have to start the entire mission again from the beginning.
SSZ isn’t a perfect game but some reviewers are going overboard on their criticism of it. This space & sci-fi combat genre is one I miss a lot and I’ve had a blast playing this game. If you are a fan of any of the titles I mentioned above, you should definitely pick it up. It feels like a blast from the past & a new experience at the same time.… Expand