Review: Lightning Returns – Final Fantasy XIII

81r6G1HP7yL._SL1500_

A blizzard is the perfect time to catch up on some backlogged gaming. This year, during the big snow-in, that’s exactly what I did. I managed to finish my playthrough of Final Fantasy XIII – Lightning Returns. The third and final chapter in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy.

I purchased this game when it was released, but this was my first time sitting down to play. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect with this title, I had heard it was very different than the first two XIII games, and indeed it was. Admittedly, I was quite confused for probably the first 4 or 5 hours of playtime. I couldn’t quite figure out the mechanics and flow of the game. It felt very foreign to me. Eventually, it did all begin to fall into place. But before I dive into all that, let’s first take a look at the storyline.

This game takes place 500 years after Final Fantasy XIII-2. During that time, the people of the world of Gran Pulse have been gifted with near immortality. However, the world itself has been consumed by mysterious dark force and mostly destroyed. At the time in which this game takes place, only a few small patches of land are habitable. This world has been rebranded as “Nova Chrysalia” by it’s inhabitants. As chaos continues to consume what remains of the world, the end of time is mere days away. Those who played the previous game, will be aware of the fate of both Lightning and her sister Serah. Spoiler Alert, for those who may not have played it, at the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning is transformed into crystal, assumingly for all eternity. But now, something has changed. A new god known as Bhunivelze has decided to craft a new world. His desire is to populate it with human souls. To do so, he will need someone to reap the souls of the living. To accomplish this task, Lightning is brought back from her crystal statis, with the promise of having her sister resurrected if she will assume the role of “Savior”.

Only thirteen days remain before the end of the world, and Lightning must do her best to help ease the suffering of the people of Nova Chrysalia before the end of the final day if she wishes to be reunited with her sister again. This mostly consists of undertaking various quests and solving problems for those in need. But of course, during the course of the story, Lightning is sure to encounter some familiar faces.

130901_28827_LRFFXIII_DAM2HomeLRFFXIII_v1_cutscene2

As mentioned above, the main objective of the game must be accomplished in thirteen “game days”. This means, that a large part of this title involves trying to get as much done before the clock runs out. When I first started playing, this was very unnerving to me. It became apparent pretty quickly that some content in the game is time-sensitive. Certain objectives only occur at certain times, so it’s a constant race against the clock. I dislike this mechanic in games very much and I was worried that I would end up missing some critical content as a result. But, after spending a lot of time with Lightning Returns, I’m happy to say this is not really as big of an issue as it first seems. In reality, there’s more than enough time to accomplish everything in the game that needs to be done. In fact, if you manage to complete enough sidequests, you can even extend this deadline by one full day.

While the timer is certainly one of the biggest changes to the game mechanics, that’s not the only thing. The combat system in this game is radically different from anything seen in Final Fantasy yet. Gone is the paradigm system that has so far been a staple of XIII, now we have something called the Schemata system (or as it is official known, the Style-Change Battle System). It’s best described as a mix of the XIII Paradigms and the Dressphere system from FFX-2. Essentially, Lightning can set up three different active roles to switch between during combat. These roles are customized based on her weapon, clothing, accessories and skills. The Garbs (or outfits) are the core to this system. New Garbs can be obtained through NPC merchants, quest rewards, and DLC.  The combat itself is very action based. Each role has it’s own Stamina Meter that is depleted as Lightning executes actions. This meter recharges as actions go unused. The key to mastering this system is to create a balanced set of Schemata and learn how to make the most appropriate use of them depending on the enemy you are encountering. I found the whole thing to be a bit confusing at first, but after a while, it started to click.

As I mentioned above, some outfits are available via DLC. Yes, this game does feature downloadable content, but unlike Final Fantasy XIII-2, it’s all optional items. The entire game story is included with the purchase of the game itself, so you don’t have to spend any extra money to experience the entire game. The garb that is available in the store is largely cosmetic, but there are a few useful pieces. Personally, unless you really want to play dress-up, I see no reason to spend your money. The Garb that is available in game is more than enough to accomplish everything you’ll ever need. That being said, there are a few free pieces you can acquire if you happen to have XIII, XIII-2 and FFX-HD saves on your PS3. (This might be true for Xbox users as well, I cannot personally confirm).

Lightning-Returns-review-screenshot

Aside from DLC, the game also features a rather novel Online function called the Outerworld Service. This service, if enabled, will occasionally place avatars for other players in your gameworld. When talking to them, you can view a gameplay screenshot that they’ve shared, and sometimes even purchase items and weapons that they’ve decided to sell. At one time, Outerworld would also connect to both Facebook and Twitter, but SE pulled the plug on this option last year. Also worthy of mentioning, enabling Outerworld Services also rewards you with free DLC that was previously only available to those who played the Lightning Returns demo.

As I mentioned earlier, this game is very different from others in the series, and as a result can be a bit confusing at first. But if you go in without any expectations and keep an open mind, everything soon falls into place. It wasn’t long before I found myself drawn into the game itself and having quite a good time with it. Lightning Returns is certainly it’s own game, and it’s not a bad game at all. But to me, it didn’t really feel like Final Fantasy. Yes, there’s moogles, chocobos, and a number of other classic FF throwbacks, but it just doesn’t feel like Final Fantasy to me.

No matter what changes may exist here, this game does stay true to one constant in the Final Fantasy universe: there’s plenty of optional content. As always, I made it my goal to unlock and defeat every optional boss the game had to offer. (One of which, can only be done ensuring you have access to the missing 14th game day). The trophies I earned for defeating these battles were well deserved if you ask me.

345350_screenshots_2016-01-23_00017

Difficulty: Variable –  This title comes with a Normal and Easy mode option out of the box. Once you have completed the game, Hard mode will be unlocked. Based on my experience, Normal mode is not really that much more difficult honestly. So this choice is really up to the player. Regardless of which option you choose, the time limit will still apply and the game can still be challenging in spots.

Story: The story presented here is actually very rich and enthralling, if you can manage to make it far enough into the game for all the pieces to start to fit together. For me, at the beginning, it was a confusing mess. It’s unclear at first why so much time has elapsed, yet everyone from the last game is still alive and kicking. Not to mention the sudden new deity everyone is so worked up about. But, as I said, if you hang in there, it’s all answered in the end and once it’s all said and done, it really makes a wonderful capstone to the Final Fantasy XIII mythology.

Originality: While many of the gameplay ideas founds in Lightning Returns are not fully original, they are certainly new to the series itself and really make for a new experience. The outerworld services are a neat touch, but I feel like they could have been implemented better. Combat in this game is certainly different than what we’ve seen in the series thus far.

Soundtrack: The soundtrack here is a mixed bag. Some of the new musical pieces are very well done and hold their own with many of the other Final Fantasy classics. Others are a bit drab. A good bit of the background music is ambient type stuff that is appropriate for the game, but not very rememberable. Thrown into the mix with all of this, are reworkings of other XIII and FF songs.

Fun: I admit, at first, I was not impressed with the title and was not enjoying it very much. But I’m happy to say that this changed about a quarter of the way through. Once I hit that point, I had quite a good time with this game. Many of the sidequests are quite a bit of fun.

Graphics: This game uses the same graphical engine as XIII and XIII-2 and looks just as good if not better than the previous two. It seems that by this point, SE has had plenty of time to really tweak their Crystal Tools engine. Again, the PS3 has a slight edge over the 360, but not by much.

Playcontrol: No real complaints here. The game controls work as expected. The camera controls are natural and precise, the button mappings are intuitive.

Downloadable Content: YES – Downloadable outfits for use in the game. Some of these are nice to have, but offer no major tactical advantage. Somewhat overpriced. (PC users can snag most of this for free)

Mature Content: Minor language, skimpy outfits, heavy anti-religious overtones (fictional).

Value:  I purchased the game at full price when it was released. I feel that there’s enough content in the game to make it worth the amount that I paid. These days it’s often available for around $20.00. Certainly a great bargain at that price.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – Lightning Returns is good game, but it doesn’t rank with some of the other games in the series. Fans of XIII are the most likely to enjoy this one.

Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, Steam

Other Reviews In This Series:

IIIIIIIVVVI VIIVIIIIXXX2XIXII XIIIXIII 2XIII Lightning Returns XIV – XV 

IV: After YearsVII: Dirge of CerberusVII: Crisis CoreVII: Advent Children (Movie)XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s TaleXV: Brotherhood (Anime)XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia – Dissidia 012

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Dimensions – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight 

Review: Destiny

destiny_frontcover_large_JMlw9dQiEuMHgeO

Today, I’m going to post a review for the vanilla version of Destiny. Last month, I broke up my Halloween playthroughs with this title. Several of my friends were on the Destiny bandwagon, and I decided to take the plunge myself and see what all the hype was about.

Destiny, is an interesting sort of game. For the most part, it is a first-person shooter. However, unlike many of the FPS games I’ve enjoyed before, this game is only available on a console system. There is no PC version of Destiny. I need to admit that I’m not very good at FPS games when using a controller. So there was immediately a bit of a learning curve for me here. But all in all, it did not take me very long to get the hang of things.

The storyline for Destiny is still a bit of mystery. It is expected that more details will emerge as expansions are released in the future. In a nutshell, the game takes place many centuries in the future. Mankind has long since traveled throughout the solar system. At some point, there is a major cataclysm that destroys nearly everything. The only survivors that still remain on Earth live in a city called The Tower. Above this city floats a mysterious white sphere called “The Traveler”. You play as a Guardian, a human/humanoid granted special powers by The Traveler. Your goal is help mankind reclaim their former colonies from a number of hostile alien species. Your journey takes to various planets like Mars, Venus, etc.

As I said, Destiny is pretty much an FPS. But, it also features some MMO elements as well. For example, when you create your character, you choose a race and a class. Your choice can affect your character’s abilities and playstyle. Your character earns experience points and levels up over time. Your character can also find/purchase equipment upgrades that increase their overall status. While the in-game action is presented as a duck and cover shooter, you are often tasked with carrying out missions and objectives. You unlock new areas as you progress through the game story. These can be revisited at will. Many missions and side quests involve completing objectives in various locales.

The game requires an internet connection, even if you decide to play solo. However, multiplayer is a big part of Destiny. As you explore the game, you will see other players in the zones. It is not unusual for strangers to team up and help clear out a large mass of enemies together. Also, no matter what system you are playing on, people on your friends list can invite you to join them in their game or vice verse.

As far as multiplayer goes, XBox users will need a Gold subscription to participate in most of the online content. The same goes for PS4 users. PS3 players, are lucky in this regard – no special subscription is required for them. Aside from co-operative play. There is a large PVP system in place as well. Most of the standard modes of FPS PVP is available here:  Defense, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, etc.

 

As you play the game, your are accompanied by a small floating AI companion called a Ghost. Your Ghost will often talk to you, giving you details on the mission at hand. The Ghost can also perform various tasks that are often required as part of the mission your currently undertaking.

I should also note, that aside from upgrading your weapons and armor, your character also eventually has access to both a speeder (called a Sparrow) and a spaceship. These can also be upgraded and customized throughout the game. Players who preordered the game, or purchased the collectors edition will automatically have some special skins for their Ghost, Ship and Sparrow.

This would be a good time to address a little controversy with the title. It seem that PlayStation 4 version of the game is the definitive package. The PS4 version includes some multiplayer content that is not available on other systems. The XBox community was very vocal about this exclusion. So, if you own multiple systems, and the PS4 is one of them, you may want to consider picking up this version so that you get a little more for your money. This ongoing trend of vendor exclusive pre-order perks and console exclusive content is really spiraling out of control and Destiny is a major example of this issue.

 

At the time of this writing, there are two announced DLC expansions for the game. More are expected in the future. This has also drawn a bit of ire from gamers, as several players have managed to actually access certain areas in the game that are not supposed to be available until the DLC is released. While there’s nothing to actually do in these locations at this time, the fact that they are already in the game suggests that the developers were working on this content before the game’s release and are now going to be charging players more money to unlock content that they have already partially acquired with their original purchase. This “on disc DLC” is another major point of contention for many gamers.

As far as the game itself goes, I found the title to be fairly enjoyable. Admittedly, I did not play the game to completion. I grew tired with it before even reaching level 20 on my character. I reached a point in the game where the next missions assigned to me were too difficult to undertake on my own. So I would either need to wait for help from friends or I had grind bounties and missions in order to increase my level. After about three days of trying that, I was burned out. As a veteran MMO player, grind is nothing new to me. But at least in MMOs, there’s a bit of storyline to help things along. This was sorely lacking in Destiny.

To be fair, the developers have done pretty good at providing special in game events and seasonal content. But most of this content comes in the form of grindy raids and repeating the same missions over and over. To me, it seemed like all of the work of an MMO, without the same social experience or reward. Endgame is Destiny is very much gear based. The goal of many players eventually becomes one of having the best, most powerful gear. That’s nice, but it’s something that does not appeal to me personally.

If competitive FPS games are your thing, this might very be the game you are looking for. For me, it left a little to be desired. Destiny is beautiful and definitely worth a look, but there are a few rough edges that are hard to ignore. The biggest thing to know before going in to this game: it is best played with friends.

 

Difficulty: Variable –  The difficulty in this game is a mixed bag. Early on in the game, it is quite easy for a solo player to handle. However, later levels and content to require help of friends. If you don’t have any real life friends that are playing, the game does a good job of pairing with you random people. However, depending on your system – you may need a premium subscription to access some of these features.

Story: The storyline really has potential, but it seems a little shallow. It is expected that this will be fleshed out a bit as time goes on, but right now there’s only a skeleton of a story to be seen.

Originality: Most of the concepts in this game have all been seen before. But personally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them all together in a single game. When I fired up Destiny for the first time, I really did feel like I was playing something new and fresh. This is good.

Soundtrack: The music in the game is very well done. It has a cosmic feel to it that fits the game perfectly. The score is dynamic and ramps up as you come under attack then fades back after the event is over. The voice acting in the game is excellent, although it can get a little repetitive at times.

Fun: Fans of multiplayer FPS games will probably get more from this title than others. The key to maximizing the enjoyment of this game, is playing with a group of friends. However, since the game is not cross-platform, you have the challenge of getting everyone on the same system. This can be difficult. I found the game enjoyable. But I wished it was geared to be a bit more solo-player friendly.

Graphics: Regardless of the system you play it on, Destiny is a gorgeous game. The PS4 version seems to win out just a hair over the XBox One, but honestly its negligible. Everything in the game from the environment to the character models are amazing.

Playcontrol: Destiny is controller-based game. For most players these days, that’s no big deal. For me, it took a little getting used to. I’m still a bit old school when it comes to FPS game. I like a mouse and keyboard. But I managed to get the hang of things. There are different types of weapons in the game, and each type handles a bit differently. I like this. At first, this aspect can make controlling the game a bit challenging, but you get used to it overtime. My experiences with PVP were quick to tell me that I was by no means a master as handling myself with this type of control scheme. But the game got much easier for me to handle the longer I played it.

Mature Content: No – Sci-Fi Violence

Value:  Destiny is a premium priced game. If you want the collectors editions, be prepared to shell out even more. The upcoming expansions cost even more on top of that. If you want to  experience most of the online content, you may need to pay even MORE for a PSN or Xbox subscription. Luckily, there no subscription fee for the game itself, and the developers continually release new content. But it still feels very lopsided for what you end up getting

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – I enjoyed my time with Destiny. But it was not a game that held my interest for long. The problem here for me, is that there is really no clear cut end-objective. The game has an MMO feel to it, without a lot of the same rewards. It’s rare for me not to finish a game that I review. But Destiny was just not a game made for me. That being said, it’s a great game and I know there are players out there who will absolutely love it. (I know a few). To me, if I want to play an FPS, there are other choices out there that are more suited to my liking.

Currently available on: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4

Review: Castlevania – Lords of Shadow 2

91mbP2rQ8FL__SL1500_

Better late than never! I originally hoped to finish this game in time for Halloween, but I missed it by a few days. Regardless, I have finally finished my playthrough of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. Here’s how it went…

This game follows the new “reboot continuity” in the Castlevania series. It is a direct sequel to Lords of Shadow and Mirror of Fate. In this title, you can again play as Gabriel Belmont. However, this time around, in the aftermath of the first game, he is now known simply as; Dracula. After a brief tutorial, the game begins with Dracula awakening in the modern era. Weak and confused, Dracula leaves the confines of his sanctuary and wanders the streets in search of answers. It is not long before Dracula encounters his previous nemesis, Zobek. Zobek explains that a wicked cult is on the verge of summoning Satan to the physical world. He offers Dracula the secret to a true death in exchange for infiltrating the Satanic cult and preventing the dark lord’s return.

When the game begins, Dracula is in a fairly weakened state. Of course, as you progress through the game he recovers more and more of his former power and ability. The gameplay itself is very similar to the original Lords of Shadow. This is especially true when it comes to combat and skills. However, unlike the original game, the world is much more open. The chapter system from the previous game is replaced with a completely open world.

For the most part, you are free to come and go through previously uncovered areas as needed. Eventually, you reach a point in the game, where Dracula is able to “shift realities” and see the world as it used to be. This adds a whole other world to explore, as you can explore both the modern city as well as in ancient times.

In theory, this concept sounds quite interesting. But personally, it actually seemed a bit confusing to me in practice. On more than one occasion I became lost and had to backtrack quite a bit to get my bearings again. In the beginning of the game, I was often very confused about where I was supposed to go next. Yes, there’s an on-screen map with an indicator, but at the same time it isn’t very intuitive and it does not make your intended destination obvious. The gameworld itself also seemed a bit glitchy for me at times. On two separate occasions, I became stuck in the game due to glitches and had to lose my progress and start back from a previous checkpoint. The first time, because I ended up in an area that should have been inaccessible and could not progress further (fell from a great height near a pit that sound have insta-killed me, but managed to find footing at the last second), and second while playing the DLC scenario (a door that was supposed to be open, did not open).

It would have been very easy for me to get frustrated with the confusing environments if it wasn’t for the engaging storyline. The plot to this title, although a little hard to follow at first (with all the timeline hopping), is excellent. It’s even better if you actually played the Mirror of Fate title that bridges this game with is prequel.

The best thing about this game, aside from the storyline, is the combat system. While very similar to the first Lords of Shadow game, the action in this title has a very polished feel to it. Battles are fast paced and the boss fights especially were much more interesting than they were in the previous game.

While the combat may seem like a bit of a rehash, there are plenty of new features in the game that keep things interesting. Keep in mind, that this time around you are playing Gabriel as Dracula. Thus, he has vampric abilities. Dracula has the ability to possess certain NPCs and use them to his advantage. For example, he can possess the body of a security guard to gain access to restricted areas. Dracula can also summon bats to distract enemies, or even transform himself into a swarm of rats to sneak past guards or explore tight spaces. Sadly, while this sounds good in theory – there’s actually only a handful of places in the game where these abilities come in handy. For the most part, I didn’t even give them a second thought.

Visually, the game is amazing. The environment and characters are beautifully rendered. The transition from cutscene to action is nearly seemless.

All in all, the game is enjoyable and I feel like I got my money’s worth. The initial confusion and frustrations had mostly passed by the time I hit the game’s midpoint. But still, for the price, I can’t help but say I expected more.

Lords of Shadow 2 does feature an additional downloadable chapter called “Revelations”. This DLC is not free, and costs about $9.00. In this chapter, you get to play as Dracula’s son Alucard and experience some “behind the scenes” events that occurred prior to the start of the main scenario.

Playing as Alucard sounds pretty interesting at first. But there’s really nothing new here. Combat works the same. Alucard does has a unique set of abilities. In truth, the DLC is only three levels long, and most of these are actually annoying puzzles and timer-dependent events. Compared to the main game, there’s very little combat in the DLC scenario. I think I finished Revelations in about 3 hours. The amount of content didn’t really seem on par with the price of the DLC.

 

Difficulty: Variable –  There are several difficulty modes. These options are pretty accurate. Choosing the easy mode not only seems to make combat slightly easier, but it also removes the cutscene/button-mashing requirements from the boss fights. Making these battles 10x simpler than they are in other modes of play.

Story: The storyline seems pretty shallow at first, if you’re a legacy Castlevania fan. But as you progress through the game you begins to understand more the details behind the plotline. I run the risk of spoiling things here, but the end of the game does a great job of shedding some light on Dracula’s true nature and motivations. Very well done.

Originality: There are several new features in this game that helps it stand out from the previous game. However, there are more similarities than new features.

Soundtrack: The music here is fitting. But I felt it was largely uninspired. The quality of the soundtrack is superb, but aside the little piano ditty you hear on the title screen, I can’t think of a single stand-out track. The voice acting on the other hand is phenomenal.

Fun: If you enjoyed the first game, there’s plenty here as well. Overall, I good time playing this game. But at times it felt a little dry and somewhat wooden.

Graphics: This game really shines visually. The artwork here is as good as ever. The gothic nature of Castlevania is superbly presented here. Everything from the levels to the characters are wonderfully designed and rendered.

Playcontrol: Overall, I have no real complaints here. The controls felt natural and the game responds well. Some of the timer puzzles (especially in the DLC) tend to be a bit cumbersome due to some targeting issues, but overall I have no real complaints

Mature Content: YES- Gruesome violence. Nudity. Occult references. Language.

Value:  Console version of the game will run anywhere from $30-$60 depending on the retailer. At the time of this writing the Steam version sells for $40. The optional DLC scenario will put you out another $8.00. – If you’re a big Castlevania fan and you loved the first Lords of Shadow, this price might be worth it. For everyone else, I say wait a while and pick the came on sale/clearance.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 2 – I love the Castlevania series, and all things considered, this is a decent game. But to me, this title didn’t have the magic that I really have come to expect from the franchise. I have a feeling this game fell victim to Konami’s desire to cash in a sequel more than anything else.

Currently available on: PS3, Xbox 360, Steam

Other Reviews In This Series:

CVCV II – CV IIICVACVA II – Super CVDracula X BloodlinesSotNCV64 – CotM ChroniclesHoDAoSLoIDoSCoDPoROoECVA RebirthJudgment 

LoS Los: Mirror of FateLoS II

Review: Slender – The Arrival

16800-11

Next up on the spooky game list is a title that I’ve had sitting in my Steam library for awhile. Slender – The Arrival. Now, before playing this game I actually knew very little about the “Slenderman” phenomena. I knew that the character of Slenderman was born from some creepy Internet meme,  but I was completely ignorant regarding the background story or mythology behind the character. I think my lack of knowledge actually made the game seem even weirder and creepier than it would have been otherwise.

First off, I should mention that the day before this review was posted, a major update to the game was released. This update is quite literally, a game changer. The 2.0 updated added new levels, better performance, and many needed quality of life improvements. I was almost done with my playthrough of this game when the patch hit and it actually made me start all over so that I could re-experience the game from the ground up.

So let’s get started. Slender – The Arrival is your typical survival horror game. In this game, you start off playing a girl named Lauren who is on her way to visit an old childhood friend at her home. On the way there, the road leading to her house is blocked by a fallen tree and you’re forced to walk the last mile or so on foot. As you approach her home, it suddenly grows unusually dark. Once entering the house, you are quick to realize that some strange has happened. The house is in shambles and there’s weird scribbles all over the wall. You find a flashlight and begin to search the house for clues. Eventually, you hear a scream from outside the window and proceed to investigate. This is where the game really begins.

Apparently, your friend Kate has become obsessed with a supernatural entity known as Slenderman. A faceless being that is rumored to chase and abduct children. Throughout your search for Kate, you are relentlessly pursued by Slenderman and some of his other creepy friends. For some reason, I never really understood, your character carries a video camera with her at all times. The game experienced through the eyes of the camera. The picture will jump or distort if Slender draws near. So it serves as a bit of a warning device. At the end of the game, it seems to become clear that you, the player, are watching the recorded footage – so there’s that. But again…. why is this girl video taping everything?

As you proceed through the game, more details regarding the backstory begin to emerge. Some levels are actually played through the perspective of other characters in the game. All in all, as the plot thickens, the game manages to actually get even creepier.

The gameplay itself is quite basic. There’s no combat. Most levels have a series of objectives that need to be completed to move on to the next stage. However, each time you complete an objective, Slenderman appears more often and begins to pursue you relentlessly. If you get caught by him, it is game over.

As far as games go, there’s not a lot of content here really. Even with the new levels brought in by the update, the game can easily be completed in a couple of hours if you’ve got the hang of things. To me, the experience provided by this game is more focused on scaring you than actually timesinking content. This game has moments that are downright chilling. Everything from the level design, to the atmosphere created within the game is frightening. There were times while playing, where I was so close to completing the level only to see the screen start to distort and hear the swelling of the background music – I’d get goosebumps knowing that just around the corner I was going to see that pale white face, in the dark suit staring blankly in my direction. Fantastic.

In a lot of way, the environments and atmosphere created by game designers are often freakier than the protagonists. If you’re looking for something to put a little fright into you on a dark night, this game is worth a look.

Difficulty: Moderate –  There are two difficulty settings. Normal and Hardcore. The later is only available after beating the game on the original difficulty setting. Overall, the game is pretty middle of the road. Early on, I died a lot. But once I got a feel for the game’s mechanics, it did become a little easier. Hardcore mode is just that. In this mode, there are often additional steps required to complete a level as well as a big increase in the aggression of Slender Man.
Story: For such an inexpensive title, there is a surprising amount of storyline here. However, it is not spoon-fed to you. The story behind the game is uncovered as you play. If you take the time to pay attention and actually read many of the news-clippings and notes that you find throughout the game, much of the background begins to become very clear.
Originality: These days, survival horror games are nothing new. But Slender manages to keep things unique with it’s unusual presentation and rich character-based storyline.
Soundtrack: The score for this game is subtle, but overall I found it to be well done. The music is dynamic and does a great job at setting the tone for the game as well as adding to the suspense.
Fun: If you enjoy horror/survival games this is certainly a title that worth your time. It’s spooky, anxiety-laden, and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Graphics: The new “2.0” version of the game is a big improvement over the original edition. If you’re new to this title, this is version that is now available on Steam as well as PSN and Xbox Arcade. So no matter what platform, you’re sure to get the latest version. The graphics were always well rendered but now include motion blur effects, and better lighting enhancements as well. Not to mention the overall graphics performance has been tweaked big time.
Playcontrol: This title is playable both on the keyboard and with a gamepad. Either way seemed both fitting and natural.
Mature Content: YES- Gruesome violence. Language. Horror elements.
Value:  For $10, this game offers quite a bit of bang for your buck. It is somewhat short, yes. But I feel that it is very much worth the experience. — If you played this game when it first came out, the new version included new levels integrated into the game itself. So veterans might want to take a second look.
Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – This game may seem a little unusual to casual players. But fans of the survival horror genre have a lot to appreciate here. However, even for a casual gamer, the $10.00 pricetag certainly makes Slender a purchase to consider. This game offers a true horror experience at a budget price.
Currently available on: Steam, PSN, Xbox Arcade

Review: Wolfenstein – The New Order

Wolfenstein_The_New_Order_cover

I don’t always get the chance to review games when they are brand new. But I knew that Wolfenstein would be an exception. After playing it, I’m glad that I put everything else on the back burner for a bit. The game was better than I expected.

The New Order continues the story that started with Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The war is coming to a close and BJ and his team are pushing deep into Nazi territory in attempts to raid Deathshead’s fortress and exterminate the Nazi leader. First part of the game focuses on this raid and also serves as a bit of a tutorial. However, things don’t go as planned and our hero suffers an injury that takes him out of commission for a quite a well. When he finally wakes up, he finds himself in an asylum. The world has gone to hell. The Nazi’s won WWII and control a world-wide police state. The focus of the game from this point is to locate the resistance movement and do whatever is possible to strike back at the Nazi regime in hopes of sparking a revolution.

It’s difficult for me to go into too much detail without spoiling a bit of the game. But from very early on in the title it’s obvious that this is not your typical FPS. The graphics are superb, the voice acting in the game is probably the best I’ve ever encountered, and the story is nothing short of fantastic. This game takes you on a journey from the trenches of WWII to a Nazi controlled dystopia that’s nothing short of terrifying. From prison camps to a Nazi Moon Base, this game is certainly a ride to hell and back.

In a lot of way this game does play like a typical FPS. You acquire, and can switch between, an arsenal of weapons; Handguns, Machine Guns, Sniper Rifles, Grenades, etc. These change over time and some can be upgraded throughout the game. There are alternate fire modes, and zoom-in options, etc. Pretty standard fare. A knife can also be used to sneak up behind enemies for stealthy take-downs. There’s also heavy weaponry that is available from time to time, such as mounted chain guns.  There’s a lot of duck and cover in this game as well. There’s actually a lot of variety when it comes to combat. Strategies range from trying to traverse the level without being seen, to all-out bullet hell.

Aside from being a simple shooter, this game is very story focused. There are a number of objectives presented during the course of the game. These help to drive the game scenario and break up the routine a bit. Throughout the game you will also come across collectible items. These are viewable in the main menu and some of them help to unlock additional modes of play. Also worthy of mention, early in the game you will be prompted to make a very important decision.  Your choice has a huge impact on the game going forward and you can’t take it back. So, to fully experience all the game has to offer, you have to play through it at lest twice. For me, this was not a problem. I enjoyed the title so much, that I was happy to do just that.

In a somewhat unusual move for a modern FPS, there is no multiplayer option. Wolfenstein: The New Order is strictly a single-player title. For me that is fine, but it does seem a little difficult to justify the premium price tag.

Graphically, the game is stellar. I was able to run it fine on my GeForce GTX 660 using medium to high settings. It does seem to be somewhat un-optimized and very fickle when it comes to some driver settings. I had to disable V-sync completely to avoid strange screen artifacts. If you’re unsure if your PC can handle the game, it may be better to go with one of the console versions that are available.

 

Difficulty: Variable–  There are multiple difficulty levels available to choose from. From my testing, these seem to be very well done and appropriate. I played the game on the default setting and found it to be very balanced.

Story: This game shines in term of storyline. The alternate 1960 presented here is both well done and horrifying. While there are some “occult tech” elements in the game, it’s not ridiculous like it was in the previous entry of the series. Almost everything here is quite believable. Everything from the plot, to character interaction is fantastic.

Originality: I found this title to be refreshing. And that’s something that’s often difficult for FPS games. The unique plot setting combined with excellent storytelling really made the game stand out to me. For once we get some deep insight into the main character of the series.

Soundtrack: The in-game soundtrack is unusual. Most of the music in the game comes in the form of ambient/distortion style mood music with a few exceptions. Among the collectable items in the game are record albums featuring songs by familiar real life bands, but done in a German style. (IE: What would the Beatles have sounded like if the Nazi’s won the war).  This is a really nice touch.

Fun: Despite some initial frustrations with graphical issues, and some minor annoyance with the default controls, I had a blast with this game. So much so that I immediately played through it second time to experience the alternate storyline. That’s a good sign!

Graphics: By today’s standards, the graphics are about as good as you can get. I played the game using less than maximum settings and I was still awed at how good things looked. Everything from the textures to motion/lighting effects are superb. — That being said, the game has been reported to have odd issues with some ATI hardware. So it may require some tweaking.

Playcontrol: The default PC controls are pretty standard. There’s a few combo moves, for sliding and running that seemed a bit difficult for me to master at first, and this cost me more than one death in the game. It kind of felt like my fingers were on a twister mat. But other than that, no real complaint. Plus, all the keys can be reassigned.

Mature Content: Yes – Extreme violence, gruesome imagery, language, sex and nudity.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 4 – I purchased this game out my love for the Wolfenstein series and my curiosity to see a Nazi-controlled setting. I was very impressed with the game as a whole. I went with the PC version simply because, to me, Wolfenstein is a PC game. But I have heard feedback from others that the game is better experienced on the console. Regardless, I was blown away by the title and I recommend it almost anyone.

Currently available on: PC (Steam and Retail) , PS4, PS3,  Xbox 360 and Xbox One

 

 

Other Reviews In This Series: Wolf3DRtCW – Wolf ETWolfenstein New Order – The Old Blood

 

Review: Thief (2014)

2604875-box_thief

This review took a bit longer to put together than I anticipated. My total playtime through the newest entry in the Thief franchise was just over 35 hours. Despite many of the dismal reviews out there on the net, I am glad to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the game.

As you may know, I enjoyed the original Thief back when it was released. I admittedly have not had any experience with either of the two original sequels (I plan on fixing that soon), so when I heard SE had purchased rights to the franchise and were rebooting the series I decided to go ahead and pre-order it and jump right in on day one. That’s exactly what I did.

Without spoiling anything, I do want to mention that after playing through this new game, the lines between reboot and sequel have become a bit blurred. It seems that this game does take place in the same universe as the original three Thief titles. Aside from several interesting similarities, in this game you play a different “Garrett”. Garrett still lives and operates in The City but it seems that several generations have passed since the original series and his connection to the original character, if any, are unclear.

2014-02-25_00005

The game begins with Garrett and his companion Erin, sneaking about the town doing what they do best. The pair fall into a sticky situation and Erin seemingly falls to her death as Garrett passes out. When he awakens, he learns that he has been missing for nearly a year. During that time, A strange sickness has began to spread through The City and things are near boiling point among the local and various political factions. Garrett is determined to figure out what happened to his missing time and uncover and further details about the fate of Erin. This is where the game begins.

The main game is divided into 8 chapters. At the end of each chapter, Garrett returns to his hidden base in The City’s clocktower. In between the chapters Garrett has full roam of the city and can undertake various thievery jobs or sidequests. Once a chapter has been completed, it can also be repeated. The bulk of the story is unfolded by completing the main chapter scenarios, but there’s a ton of background lore and subplots that can be discovered by taking on sidequests and just exploring and looting various locations within The City. During my play, I complete the game and all of the sidequests, but fell short of finding all unique items and secrets. I plan to revisit the game later when the mood strikes me.

The focus of the game is to follow the story missions and help Garrett complete his objective. However, a big part of the game is finding and stealing various treasures and trinkets. Once an item is stolen, it’s value goes directly into Garrett’s pocket. This gold can be spent to purchase weapons and various thief tools. The game does not feature an experience point system, but throughout the game Garrett will earn Focus Points. These can be used to improve skills and unlock abilities.

2014-02-25_00006

There’s a lot of similarities in this game to the original series. As Garrett sneaks about the city, shadows are your friend. You are virtually invisible when shrouded in darkness and motionless. Most enemies can detect you by both sight and sound. So staying out of sight is important, but so is treading lightly. Running and walking on uneven surfaces can alert others to your presence. Famous tools such as Water Arrows make a return in this game, enabling Garrett to extinguish torches from a distance. But even a suddenly extinguished torch can raise suspicions. The game also features a Focus Mode that Garrett can use to help detect lootable items or traps. Once activated, the focus meter will begin to drain. If empty, Focus Mode is no longer available to use. Focus can also slow time down to make pickpocketing and combat a bit easier, so use it wisely.

As I mentioned earlier, Garrett can also find and acquire unique items. Unique items are displayed at Garrett’s hideout in the clocktower. Aside from being a challenge to locate, looking pretty and unlocking achievements, unique loot has no other value in the game.

Graphically, the game looks amazing. Thief uses the Unreal engine and everything is very well designed. I was really impressed with the visuals of the game. But performance-wise, the game is hit or miss. At first, I thought maybe my machine was unable to handle the game on high settings – so I lowered things a bit and it only seemed to make them worse. This leads me to believe that the game is poorly optimized. About halfway through my time with the game, a patch was released, upping the game to version 1.2. This did seem to improve things a bit, but I still experienced some stuttering and other weird performance issues. I expect these to be addressed over time, but I was a little disappointed to see how glitchy the game seemed at launch.

Also, while large parts of the game play seamlessly, there are quite a number of load screens when navigating around The City. This can sometimes be a bit annoying when hunting down sidequests or simply trying to move between several areas. This is also a good place to note that there are no real shortcuts in Thief. No warps, no waypoints, nothing. If you want to get from the south side of the city to the north side. You’ll have to navigate it all on foot. You will likely spend about 10 minutes and encounter 3 or 4 loading screens in the process.

2014-02-25_00002

Aside from some of these technical annoyances, I found the game to be superb. Atmospherically, the game is fantastic. The City is brought to life and really feels like a living, breathing location. Of course the more memorable locations are presented during the story missions. During the game you will explore a mansion, a brothel, and a haunted asylum to name a few. I should also note that this game has a Mature rating for a reason. There’s a some pretty rough language and even bits of nudity. Also, the asylum is not for the faint of heart. That level is probably one of the creepiest things I have ever seen in a video game. Hats off to the developers here. Fantastic job.

People who pre-ordered the game also have access to a special in-game mission called The Bank Heist. I expect this is be available to all as downloadable content in the near future. — Note: It is quite obvious that this mission was included as part of the normal design. It feels like it was simply locked out for all but those who preordered the title. This is a practice that I have come to despise in modern games. Boo.

Once you have completed the main scenario, you are able to explore the city and replay chapters as you wish in attempt to find any unique loot that you may have uncovered. There’s also a Challenge Mode, that allows you to revisit several locations from the game. Challenge mode pits you against a clock or gives you certain objectives to conquer. There is an online leaderboard for this mode of play, and it seems that future DLC will focus around the challenge mode and not the single player experience. I’m interested to see I’m wrong on this. Time will tell.

2014-03-05_00004

Difficulty: Variable–  Thief offers three basic difficulty levels. I actually recommend playing on the middle (default) setting. The easy setting actually seems to be a bit too simple. While the hardest setting will feel a little more comfortable for players of the original franchise. There’s also a custom difficulty option that allows you to tweak almost every aspect of the game’s challenges. The game also analyzes your play-style and provides you with one of three styles of play at the end of each mission, so trying to complete the game in different ways also adds some additional fun.

Story: The story behind the game is very rich and well done. If you’re fan of the original series, you may actually take away a bit more from the plot than a new player. The ending of the game seems a bit lacking unless you pay really close attention… so keep that in mind. If you blink you’ll miss it.

Originality: The game borrows heavily from the original franchise, while also integrating several elements seen in other recent Square Enix titles (optional objectives like those in Sleeping Dogs, and Player Upgrades like those from Tomb Raider). I’ve also seen several comparisons to Dishonored, but this is a game I’ve never played, so I cannot speak on this.

Soundtrack: The game for the most part focuses on realistic ambient noise. Music only plays when Garrett is detected or during other high intensity places in the game. I found the use of the game music to be quite effective and appropriate. Excellent stuff here.

Fun: A lot of people on the net have had some pretty negative things to say about the game, but I had quite a bit of fun with this title. Despite putting in nearly 40 hours in a single playthrough, I found myself wanting a more. This is always a good sign.

Graphics: This game is a good example of what the modern Unreal engine is capable of. The game has a very gritty and dark feel to it, design-wise. I found it to be very well done. Lighting and fog effects are used appropriately and look really great. Thief is a shining example of what moderns games are capable of.

Playcontrol: I played the PC version of this game, and I feel the default PC controls were very well done. I ultimately decided to use an Xbox 360 controller because of the good experience I had with it during both Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs. The gamepad controls were intuitive and felt natural.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – Thief is a really good game but it’s far from perfect. If you’re a fan of the series, I think it might be worth paying full price for it. If not, it may be better to wait a few months for the price to drop a bit. Even if you’ve never played any of the original titles in the series, this game is a starting point and is pretty accessible to nearly anyone. Fans of stealth and exploration game will really find it especially enjoyable. If you’re going to play it, go all out – turn off the lights, light a candle and wear a hoodie. Chapter 4 is one heck of a ride.

Currently Available: Steam, PS3, PS4, 360 and Xbox OneOther Reviews In This Series:

Original Trilogy:

Thief: The Dark Project  –  Thief 2: The Metal Age  – Thief: Deadly Shadows

Reboot:

Thief

Review: Double Dragon Neon

Double_Dragon_Neon_promotional_poster-5B1-5D

Reboots. Love them or hate them, they seem to be a popular trend right now. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I learned that Double Dragon was getting rebooted as a downloadable title for both PS3 and Xbox 360.

Towards the end of it’s original run, the Double Dragon series had a really rough time. The last couple games in the franchise were dismal. The chronology be came convoluted and murky. The motion picture that accompanied the last game was even worse… it seemed like it was all over. Thankfully, the series was redeemed several years later with the release of Double Dragon Advance, a definitive telling of the Double Dragon story, but sales were below expectations. (I admittedly have never played this title).

It seemed like any chance of seeing a new game featuring Billy and Jimmy Lee was long gone. Then the announcement of Neon was made and I took interest. With Technos out of business, the rights to the series have been sold to a company I’ve never heard of; Majesco. What they have brought to the table has certainly got a lot of attention.

ReviewDoubleDragonNeon1-5B1-5D

Double Dragon Neon is both a clever reimagining of the series, as well a very meticulous remake. In this game, we have see several fan-favorite bad guys and levels redone with all the flair that modern graphics have to offer. Upon first starting the game, there is no mistaking that this is a DD title. Just like the original, it starts off with a group of thugs beating up and marching off with your girlfriend. Followed by the hero appearing and muttering “Awww. Not again!” This first level will be very familiar to fans of the series, everything from the name of the pub at the start of the stage, to the music is right out of the original arcade version. That’s where similarities end, however.

This game is a bit of a tongue in cheek throwback to great fighting games of the 80s. The whole thing is filled with humorous 80’s nostalgia. The lead character’s banter is a lot less Bruce Lee and a lot more Bill and Ted than I expected. In two player games, special moves are executed after being proceeded by a “totally radical high-five”. New abilities are unlocked by finding various mixtapes left behind by fallen enemies. (Each tape has an appropriately 80’s style soundtrack to go with it).

The whole 80’s-spoof concept does seem a little over the top at first but after a while, I found myself laughing along and really appreciating it. Once you find yourself beating up geisha girls on a rocketship in outer space, you know you’re past the point of no return.

Despite the zany turn of events, the game itself is very well done. It has everything that a fan of the old Double Dragon games will appreciate with a new twist and modern presentation. Just be prepared to laugh a bit. Funny or not, I’d love to see more classic games get this kind of treatment and attention.

Crack-2520of-2520the-2520Bat1280-5B1-5D

Difficulty: Difficult  – One thing this game has in common with it’s retro counterparts is the level of difficulty. Like most games of this type, you will have to work hard and master the controls to progress very far. However, unlike most of the older games, your progress is saved after each level.

Story: Being a reboot, the story is the same. However, this time the enemy gang is led by a supernatural wise-cracking skeleton.  

Originality: Despite being a remake of an older game, there’s actually a lot of new stuff here. The whole comedic retro concept is a very original idea. The introduction of unlocking special moves by acquiring/forging mixtapes is a great alternative to the standard fare of leveling up via experience points or level progression.

Soundtrack: I cannot say enough good things about the soundtrack to this game. In my review of the original Double Dragon I lamented over how incredible it would be to hear those classic songs done with real instruments – well this game does just that. Many of the classic tunes from both Double Dragon and Double Dragon II are present in the soundtrack for this game. Also included are original 80’s inspired pop songs and even an incredible ridiculous song during the end credits performed by both out heroes and Skullmageddon himself… The best thing about it? You can download the entire game soundtrack for free from doubledragonneon.com. Great, great stuff here!

Fun: I had a total blast plaything this game. It appealed to both the kid and the adult in me. Unless you just have no sense of humor, or absolutely hate fighting games, what’s not to love about this title?

Graphics: This game feature modern style cell shading. So the title has an overall anime/cartoon art direction. I know a lot of people don’t care for cell-shaded games, but I’ve never had a problem with them as long as they are appropriate. Cartoon style Black Ops? No thanks… but for something like this, it’s perfect.

Playcontrol: This game takes advantage of modern controllers. So gone are the days of a two or four button Double Dragon experience. Fans of the original games will need to adjust to the new control scheme, but it falls into place quickly and feels very natural.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 4 – I’m a huge fan of this game, and as a result I’m going to look a little bit further in Majesco to see what other games they have out there. For the $10 asking price, you simply cannot go wrong. This is one of the better “online arcade” games I’ve spent my money on in a long time.

Currently available on: Playstation Network, Xbox live Arcade, Steam

Other Reviews In This Series:

Canon games:   DD – DD2 DD3 – DD4

Side games:  Super DD -DD5 – DD Neon

 

Review: Mega Man 10

 

mega-man-10-box-art-5B1-5D

Finally we have the most recent installment in the original Mega Man series, Mega Man 10. After the success of MM9, it was decided to follow up the game with a sequel. Like it’s predecessor, MM10 is a downloadable game designed with the look and feel of a legacy 8bit title.

This time around, Capcom implemented a setting allowing the player to change the difficulty level – a much welcome feature for many. Also, the game is playable as either Mega Man or Proto Man. Downloadable content is also available that unlocks Bass as a playable character.

MM10-Select-5B1-5D

This time around, the storyline is a little different. All over the world robots are falling ill due to a strange computer virus known as Roboenza. Luckily, Dr. Wily claims to have developed a cure – only to have it stolen by an infected robot. Mega Man sets out to retrieve it. Of course, it is eventually revealed that Dr. Wily is the one behind the infection. His goal was use his cure as bait to motivate infected robots to join in his evil plans.

This title is very similar to Mega Man 9 in many regards. There is a variety of optional levels and challenges available thru DLC, so there’s plenty to keep Mega Man fans busy. Personally, I found this game to be a tad bit easier than MM9, but it’s still challenging enough to earn it’s place next to all of the other titles.

Mega-Man-10-7HS9-5B1-5D

Difficulty: Very Difficult  – Much like all other games in the franchise, Mega Man 10 is tough. Thankfully, we do have an optional easy mode for more casual players. However, if playing on the PS3 or 360 – no achievements are available on easy mode. You’ve been warned!

Story: Dr. Wily is at it again! I like the concept of a robo-virus that was introduced in the game. There’s just enough storyline in the game, to keep your hooked through all the brutal gameplay.

Originality: While MM9 had the “original” idea of making an old school title, MM10 does the same and therefore doesn’t really introduce anything that original to the series.

Soundtrack: I found the original music in this entry of the series to be a bit of an improvement over the previous retro title. Catchy, hummable tunes throughout.

Fun: For some reason that I cannot put my finger on, I enjoyed this title a bit more than Mega Man 9. The bosses are a bit more interesting and the I think the overall levels are more fun to play. Good stuff here.

Graphics: Another good example of creating an old school 8-bit game for modern hardware. You’d never know you were playing on a current-day console.

Playcontrol: Having played this title on two of the three systems, I have to say I’m impressed. No issues on either controller and everything feels natural.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – Another great example of a retro throwback title. Obviously, Capcom saw a profit with the digital release of Mega Man 9 and decided to cash in. I cannot blame them for that. The game itself is of good quality and defiantly worth a purchase for fans of the series. It’s actually free right now for Playstation plus subscribers.

Currently available on: WiiWare, Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade

Other Reviews In This Series:

MMMM2MM3MM4MM5MM6MM7MM8MM&BassMM9MM10

MMX – MMX2 – MMX3 – MMX4 – MMX5 – MMX6 – MMX7 – MMX8 – MMXtreme – MMXtreme2 – Comman Mission

Zero – Zero2 – Zero3 – Zero 4 – ZX

BN – BN2 – BN3- BN4- BN5 – BN6

Review: Mega Man 9

mega-man-9-5B1-5D

As my week of vacation comes to a close, I bring you the next installment in the original Mega Man series. Mega Man 9. This game was released nearly a decade after the original Japanese version of Mega Man & Bass. So, keep in mind that it had actually been quite some time since players were treated to an original Mega Man title.

As one would expect, it’s been a long time since Mega Man was called to action. Things have quiet. When suddenly, Robots all over the world start going crazy. Dr. Wily appears on TV claiming that he has nothing to do with it. He asks for donations so he can build a robot army to defend the public against what he believes is an attack by Dr. Light. As you might expect, as you progress thru the game, the truth about the situation is uncovered and the outcome should come as no surprise.

megaman9stageselect

This game was initially released as a downloadable title on the Wii, and then later on both the Xbox 360 and PS3. I own it on both the Wii and 360. There’s no noticeable difference at all between the three ports. Regardless of your platform, there’s also downloadable content available for the game. Special stages, increased difficulty and even the option to play the game as Proto Man.

One of the first things you’ll probably notice about the game is it’s retro look. Mega Man 9 was created as an homage to the earliest games in the series. This means that despite the modern systems it was released on, it looks, sounds, and feels like an 8-bit title straight out of the late 80s.

Keeping with tradition, this Mega Man game is extremely difficult. So, I’ll be honest and admit that I had no desire whatsoever to play the “superhero mode” (increased difficulty).

I actually bought and played this when it came out in 2008, and then again this week. All in all, I have to say, Capcom did a wonderful job of capturing the old school feel of the original Mega Man games. Right down to fake and cheesy virtual game-box art.

Mega_man_9_Image_07-5B1-5D

Difficulty: Very Difficult  – This game is throwback both in look and feel and in difficulty. I can picture a sadistic Capcom employee giggling with glee at the brutal and punishing design of their new retro title. This is also very apparent in the achievements/trophies available for the 360 and PSN version. You have been warned.

Story: Same old same old, but this time – it’s got a lot of old school charm to it. Keep in mind, this game was made to be a homage to the original titles of yesteryear. So keeping with the running joke is more than appropriate.

Originality: As odd as this may sound, the originality here is by not changing anything. Capcom could have released a new fancy HD Mega Man title, but instead they chose to go back to their roots and produce an emulated 8-bit game. That took some guts, and it paid off well in the end.

Soundtrack: I don’t think anything will ever touch the MM2 and 3 soundtracks. But this one is certainly not bad. The music is certainly fitting and groovy at time, but there’s nothing here that’s very memorable.

Fun: Honestly, if you played the old games, you’ve seen it all before. I found the fun here to reside in the trip down memory lane the game brings. The old graphics and sound are spot on. In a way, even the maddening difficulty makes for a nice nostalgic experience.

Graphics: You can’t really make a judgment here. Despite the modern technology, this game was designed to look old. Something that is actually probably not too easy these days. Considering the goal, the designers did a wonderful job.

Playcontrol: Having played this title on two of the three systems, I have to say I’m impressed. No issues on either controller and everything feels natural.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – This is great example of a retro throwback title. I would love to see game companies do stuff like this more. It is my understanding that MM9 was quite a success for Capcom. At the time of this writing the game is very inexpensive on both Wii and 360. It’s actually free right now for Playstation plus subscribers.

Currently available on: WiiWare, Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade

Other Reviews In This Series:

MMMM2MM3MM4MM5MM6MM7MM8MM&BassMM9MM10

MMX – MMX2 – MMX3 – MMX4 – MMX5 – MMX6 – MMX7 – MMX8 – MMXtreme – MMXtreme2 – Comman Mission

Zero – Zero2 – Zero3 – Zero 4 – ZX

BN – BN2 – BN3- BN4- BN5 – BN6

A Night of Retro-Gaming

screenlg2-5B1-5D

After making my inital post, my curiosity was nudged a bit regarding the availability of old classic titles on modern systems. A while back I purchased the classic “Gauntlet” from the Xbox Live Arcade, so I knew that such titles were available. Interestingly enough, Gauntlet and other Midway titles seem to have been pulled from Xbox Live, but I did manage to find a few good classics for sale.

For only 400 points apiece, I snagged copies of both Asteroids/Asteroids Deluxe and Centipede/Millipede. The download comes with the titles both in their classic versions as well as new and enhanced graphics. However, aside from the visual changes, the games remain untouched.

It goes without saying that old coin-op style games are much more difficult than most modern day titles. This degree of difficulty was a big turn off for my eight-year-old son. Although, he did find the base simplicity of each game to be a bit appealing.

It’s a safe bet that these classics are not going get much playtime from him, the world of gaming has changed a great deal, and titles such as these are just not on the radar of most younger gamers these days. In reality, they are technically even “before my time”. But I must admit, there is still something magical about them. I was up until 2:00am playing Asteroids the other night, despite not making it past the third or fourth wave.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I remember playing an arcade table Asteroids machine back during summer camp of my 3rd grade/4th grade year. Now, I could just find a similar version of Pitfall or Moon Patrol.