Professor Layton is a series I have been curious about, but could never get into. When this game came out I rented it from GameFly and sent it back the same day. It was frustrating right off the bat and I couldn’t solve a single puzzle by myself. These are probably some of the toughest puzzles you will ever come across in a game. I don’t mean regular puzzles in a 3D space, but full-on college-level logic puzzles. Math questions, pattern recognition, optical illusions and they’re all insanely tough. You do some slider puzzles, the occasional jigsaw, and process of elimination questions. The game is insanely hard and you will need a walkthrough for this one.
The base of the game plays out like a point-and-click adventure. You enter the town of St. Mystere to find the elusive Golden Apple and acquire its wealth. in the meantime, you are confronted by the townsfolk who strangely present you with puzzles at every turn. There are 120 puzzles in the main game with 15 unlocked as Layton’s challenges. There are an additional 25 puzzles as weekly downloads, but the service has since shut down. These can be unlocked with cheat hacks as they are in the game code. Layton’s Challenges are unlocked by finding pieces to every puzzle. One is sorting items in either Layton or Luke’s room and their reaction is a hint on whether it belongs to them or not. Another is assembling a gizmo and finding all pieces to a jigsaw puzzle. These are found by solving optional hidden puzzles outside of the story ones.
You can tap around on the screen for coins that are used to unlock hints, and you will need as many as you. You tap on the village folk to advance the story or solve their puzzles. If you missed any optional puzzles in a given chapter they are returned to the puzzle room so you don’t have to worry about not finding them. These don’t include optional hidden puzzles found by tapping around the screen, however. You can get through the story and solve all of these later at your leisure. You do get objectives at the top screen. Usually to go to a certain area or talk to a specific character. There are some really good-looking full-motion anime cut scenes peppered throughout the game will full voice acting. It’s low-quality audio due to the limited size of the DS carts, but it still looks good.
The game isn’t hard in terms of exploration. You’re limited to maybe a couple dozen screens over the course of the story and it’s laid out in such a way that you will memorize where everything is pretty fast. The story itself is cute and charming, predictable and forgettable, but works within the game’s world. Layton and Luke are great characters with depth and their personalities shine through here. I just wish the puzzles weren’t so damn hard. There is no difficulty ramping, and there are no mini-games for breaks. It’s just 120 puzzles that I either knew the answer to and doubted myself, didn’t understand the puzzle until I saw the logic behind the answer, was always off by one number, or almost had something. Most of these puzzles are well designed in terms of cleverness, a lot of the time the answer is right in front of your face in form of trick questions, but only those who are avid logic puzzle solvers will truly enjoy this game.
With a walkthrough, I did solve all 120 puzzles, and maybe 20 of those I solved on my own. It’s that damn hard and it’s a surprise as this game seems marketed toward children, and I’m sure many bought this and had no clue what to do. These are college-level puzzles that only serious brainiacs can solve. Sadly, you’re locked behind the puzzle and can’t advance. There’s no way to pay your way out or see the solution. You get three hints and a lot of them don’t help much. You just need to know that these are real puzzles that are serious. There is a scoring system in form of Pacarats, but these mean nothing and don’t unlock anything. It’s really just a score. Every time you fail a puzzle the potential score you can get for that puzzle drops. So, don’t worry about this system too much.
Overall, I liked the art and characters, the story was cute, and when I did solve a puzzle on my own it was satisfying, but the majority are just way too hard. There are no mini-games, breaks of any kind, or anything to change up the gameplay. Sure, the puzzles themselves have different uses for the touch screen. Write in stuff, and use the touch screen as a notepad to solve math problems or trace patterns, but other than that it’s just used to tap around the screen on static images. I’m hoping future games dial the difficulty way down and save the hard crap for the optional challenges.
The DS was made for rhythm games. The touch screen is a perfect way to implement fun new ideas as physical interaction with music is usually a good mix. Ontamarama tries this with cute visuals and using the touch screen combined with buttons. Sadly, it doesn’t pan out quite how the developers wanted. The game is just too distracting and causes artificial inflation in difficulty when the actual rhythm part never gets very hard.
The combination of using the face buttons plus the touch screen isn’t designed very well here. You have to tap the Ontamas that pop up on the touch screen to fill the buttons scrolling across the bar. Using just directional buttons to trigger the actual note. This just doesn’t work. While you tap the creatures you can’t keep your eye on the scrolling bar too. Slower notes work fine and you will notice this during the first few songs of the story mode. However, adding other things like needing to double tap notes, drawing circles around groups of Ontamas, and avoiding black Onatamas that lower your performance is just too much.
Eventually, songs get so infuriating because this combo just not working out. The songs aren’t hard themselves if only I could keep an eye on both things. There is also stuff happening on the top screen that I can’t even look at for a second. I also felt the circle drawing wasn’t forgiving enough. If you draw the circle too big it won’t register and the same for too small. Often times I just barely made it through the song before failing. There’s no way practice can make this game better unless you memorize each button placement and note, and that’s now a good way to master a rhythm game. It should be about mastering the mechanic and having your reflexes honed.
It would be kind of worth it if the songs were good. These are just loud clashings of instruments that don’t sound good. There are no catchy beats or tunes. It’s just generic-sounding music and just sounds like awful noise. If the music was really good then trying to master this frustrating system might be worth it. Now, I’m not saying the game is horrible. It’s a unique take on the genre and the developers really tried to do something new and when it works it’s a lot of fun. The visuals are cute, but the story is complete nonsense and silly. Sadly, there are only about a dozen tracks, so once you beat story mode that’s pretty much it.
I can see how this game didn’t sell well and failed. It isn’t the near perfection of Elite Beat Agents with its licensed music or Guitar Hero with its unique peripheral. The DS didn’t have a fantastic run of rhythm games, but they were all unique and tried something new and I can appreciate that. I feel if you really want to scratch a rhythm itch then pick this up for a challenge, but don’t play it for the music.
Match three puzzle games are a weakness for me. As long as there are some good visuals and addictive gameplay I’m hooked. Meteos is a unique take on this as the game lets you drag blocks anywhere in their column and you can match three horizontally or vertically. This allows the game to drop blocks at a breakneck pace. You need to strategize and line blocks up, but that’s not all. To clear them the matched blocks launch themselves and all blocks above them into the air. Continue matching blocks below that set and it will exit the screen and clear.
Of course, there are some items that help you clear the stage such as a giant hammer and bombs, but if the game is going too slow for you there’s a speed-up dial as well. The main mission mode has three different stages. In each one, you have to work your way to the final bass, Meteo. Each and every planet has a different tile set and way to clear blocks. One planet required matching two sets nearby in order to get the blocks to launch. Some planets will launch every set all the way up in exchange for making the entire round faster. This is a simple concept, but it’s hard to master. Match three games like this always require strategy, but I found that some luck comes into play here. I would restart one round nearly a dozen times only to win really quickly thanks to blocks falling in a certain pattern that allowed me to keep my screen clear.
Every time you defeat a boss it’s really satisfying. The fast speed of needing to look ahead and make sure blocks are always lined up gets tough, but you learn over time. I wish you had power-ups like in some games like this, but what’s here is fine. There are a couple more modes such as an endless mode and a custom mode. Modes are ideal for games like this that don’t have a ton of missions like Puzzle Quest. However, I really do feel a more robust mission mode would have been better. After about an hour I wanted to stop. The game is only fun in short bursts due to its arcade-like nature. While the game can be addictive at times when you actually win it can also be exhausting because of the fast pace and luck-based nature of each match.
For an early DS title, the game looks good. There are some nice effects, and lots of colors and the touch screen responds well to the small blocks. I did find some tilesets were hard on the eyes, but I did eventually get used to them. Overall, Meteos is a fun puzzle game on the system and takes the genre in new directions despite the lack of a more robust mission mode.
The Nintendo DS. The system that has the better half of itself. The Gameboy Advance 4 because there’s two screens in one. The system your grandma probably at some point may have played Brain Age or New York Times Crosswords on. The system that had a library just as strong as the GBA’s and had so many different models. It could play Gameboy games, GBA games, and then it all went away when they took the GBA slot away to give us cameras. Yeah, no thanks. The DS has a vast library of amazing games, but the system is becoming more and more collectible as time goes on and your favorite childhood DS game may be over $100. Metroid Prime Hunters? Yeah, forget it. Hamsterz Life? Yes! Castlevania? Not going to happen. My Baby Girl? You got it! In all seriousness there are cheap games that aren’t shovelwere, quite a few in fact. Also, don’t even bother with the few horror games on the system Japanese release only or not.
Complete in box games are hard to come by and can be expensive, so I dug into my own collection and will be talking about these games that are under $20. Of course there’s shovelware if your a glutton for punishment, that stuff can be bought by the truck load off of eBay and paid by the pound. There may be a few games here you don’t have or just got a shiny DS or have a 3DS and want to dive deeper into this backlog of goodness.
Age of Empires: Age of Kings – Backbone Entertainment/Majesco Entertainment – 2006
Yes, the Majesco that killed off Psychonauts and made the crappy Game Gear re-release in 2000. That Majesco. That’s okay as Age of Kings is a fantastic strategy game on DS and there aren’t many. The touch screen allows for some better controls over buttons and remember this is a tile based game rather than real-time like on PC. It’s a lot of fun, but slow paced and nothing flashy or pretty. It’s great for relaxing on a quiet day and exercising your brain.
Alice in Wonderland – Étranges Libellules S.A./Disney Interactive – 2010
This game came out late in the system’s life, but what is this even?! A good Alice in Wonderland game? A good DISNEY GAME? It looks like Okami?! C’MON! This is a fantastic platformer with a gorgeous art style and thankfully has nothing to do with the terrible Tim Burton movie. I’m surprised it’s not worth more as it’s pretty unknown and was overlooked on the shelves because of the terrible timing of the movie. It’s dark, pretty, and a lot of fun.
Band Hero – Vicarious Visions/Activision – 2009
Band Hero is probably the most peripheral heavy game on the system. They packed an entire band in here! The great thing is you can still pick this up new for under $20 because no one cared about it. Sadly, it’s a great game! It comes with a guitar grip and a weird rubber drum condom. It has great licensed songs and play better than Guitar Hero on DS. It’s a game you can’t really emulate well or watch. It’s an experience of the senses. You of course need a DS with a GBA slot so that pesky DSi won’t due. It’s made by the Crash Bandicoot team so it’s got to be good right?
Big Bang Mini – Arkedo SARL/SouthPeak Interactive – 2009
This is a fireworks shoot ’em up hybrid that utilizes the touch screen very well. It’s super colorful and bright and a lot of fun to get into. There are mini-games and the challenge ramps up as you go on. It’s super colorful and tons of fun with varied boss fights and enemies. This is a must have.
Brain Age Academy – Nintendo – 2006
Well it’s brain teasers, math problems, timing tests, reaction tests, and many things you probably did in school, but it’s fun because it’s a VIDEO GAME. This series was actually quite fun and you can sink several hours into the game and don’t want to stop. Your grandma probably didn’t want to stop either. The entire series is pretty much the same just with new ideas and mini-games and problems. They’re solid and utilize the touch screen well.
Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day! – Nintendo – 2007
Around this time people were tired of Dr. Kawashima’s crap and sales dropped. Brain Age 2 is the best of the bunch and is less mini-game like from Big Brain Academy and more educational. These brain exercises are great for anyone studying in school, children, or just plain fun if you want to utilize that fancy touch screen. It’s nothing pretty to look at but a seriously interesting piece of software that only could be done on the DS.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – n-Space/Activision – 2007
Can you 360 no scope in this game? Probably not, but it’s a great single player experience with decent visuals and it feels like a portable Call of Duty game. The only way to get it portable as Roads to Victory wasn’t too hot on the PSP. This was built from the ground up and n-Space were excellent developers for the system back in the day. These are highly overlooked because they’re not big bombastic console versions, but they are quite solid on DS.
Classic Action: Devilish – Starfish Kaihatsu/UFO Interactive Games – 2007
Well this game got shit on a lot because it was unchanged from the Genesis/Game Gear version, and that’s okay. It just stretches the play field out across both screens, but it’s still fun. This plays like a shoot ’em up mixed with Arkanoid. It’s not an instant classic, but that BOX ART THOUGH! Yeah, it looks nothing like the game, but you can still pick up sealed copies of this game because no one knew it existed. That’s okay. At least you do now.
Well this was a popular Java mobile game series and also on PC and it came to DS. I love time management games as they are so addictive and you can’t put them down. Diner Dash may not look amazing but it’s super addictive and a ton of fun. You will sink more hours into this game than you will want to admit. Guilty pleasure indeed.
Feel the Magic XY/XX – Sonic Team/Sega – 2004
This was a launch title for the system and was super weird. So the game is all about rubbing things, and no you can’t feel up Sonic I looked, and it was rather fun. It was zany Japanese mini-games that utilized the mic and touch screen really well. You won’t sink hours into this, but it’s cheap enough for some quick fun.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes in Time – Square Enix – 2009
One of the few Final Fantasy games on the system under $20. This was the better half of the Crystal Chronicles series released on GameCube. It’s a top down real-time combat action game with RPG elements. It’s rather fun and unique and different from what we’re used to in the series, especially at this point in time. Even if you don’t care for Final Fantasy this is worth a look.
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings – Square Enix – 2007
One of the other few cheap FF games on the system, this was a turned based RPG with a slower pace than its console brother. It looks good and has 2D sprites which just look good. You can play the entire game with just the stylus so your screen will finally get it’s mileage if it hasn’t already. It’s a longer RPG that takes around 30 hours to finish so it’s a great time sink and if you are already an FF12 nut then add this to your collection.
Glory of Heracles – Paon Corporation/Nintendo – 2010
If you don’t like JRPGs then look elsewhere. It’s about a JRPG-y as it gets here. At least the skills and powers and done with the touch screen which is nice, and it’s nice and lengthy and a good time sink. It was a late bloomer in the system’s life cycle and didn’t see many sales, but the DS is one of the best handhelds when it comes to JRPGs.
GRID – Firebrand Games and Entertainment/Codemasters – 2008
A racing game that didn’t look like poopoo on the DS? Color me surprised. Racing games weren’t a strong suit for the DS due to the lack of power and anyone willing to create a hand-tailored engine for the system. Either you played Mario Kart DS or didn’t. That was it. Then GRID came along and was a game changer for the system. It looked fantastic and ran at a good framerate and was an actual good racing game. It also wasn’t an arcade racer and more of a sim game, or at least as sim like as you can get on the DS. This is a must own for any racing fan.
LEGO Rock Band – Backbone Entertainment/Warner Bros. Interactive – 2009
Well, if peripherals and weird condoms aren’t your thing then this might be. This was a peripheral-less Rock Band game featuring Legos. You used the DS buttons or touch screen and looked good and had some great licensed tracks. It’s one of the better rhythm games on handhelds and shouldn’t be passed up over the kid-like appeal.
Mario Kart DS – Nintendo – 2005
This was an early instant classic on the system. It’s considered one of the best in the series and actually had online play. It’s fantastic Mario Kart goodness and it’s all in 3D rather than the Mode 7 style of the past. It was a big deal as it was the first portable Mario Kart game in 3D and took the world by storm. Everyone was playing it and so should you.
Meteos – Q Entertainment/Nintendo – 2005
A early puzzle game for the system that was a smash hit. It’s bright, colorful, fast paced, has great music, and you can sink hours into it similar to Tetris. It’s honestly one of the best portable puzzle games ever made. It was created by none other than the Rez man himself Tetsuya Mitzuguchi. This is something that can only be experienced on the DS as it utilizes both screens. You match blocks and they shoot up like rockets at the top screen and you need to chain them. It’s a lot of fun for such a small price.
New Super Mario Bros. – Nintendo – 2006
Well this is why Mario 2D platformers returned. It was the first one in 15 years. New Super Mario Bros. was a mega-hit and the formula of the physics, looks, art style, and identity is all due to this game right here on the DS. It’s an instant classic and just as good as any older 2D Mario game. While the series burned itself out on 3DS it’s feel more energetic and innovative here.
Orcs & Elves – id Software/EA – 2007
I’m surprised this isn’t worth more being an id Software game and an obscure one at that. This was a Java port using the mobile Doom engine from the mid-2000’s. It’s a fantastic FPS game of might and magic and should be owned by everyone who likes Doom or classic dungeon crawlers. It uses the dual screens well and I’m sure it will eventually shoot up in price at some point. You can’t get the mobile version anymore so this is it.
Ridge Racer DS – Nintendo/Namco – 2004
Ok, here me out. A PlayStation exclusive racing series developed by Nintendo for a Nintendo handheld. What kind of sorcery is this?! Yeah, Nintendo made this while Namco published it. So, it’s not Mario Kart that much is obvious and it’s why no one bought it. If you’re a Nintendo racing game and you aren’t Mario Kart you’re going to have a bad time. Here’s the thing, it’s one of the better racing games especially being an early title for the system. It’s not GRID pretty, but it looks and plays really well. The system is anemic with the racers so get this if you can.
Skate It – Exient Entertainment/EA – 2008
Welp, it’s not Tony Hawk. While American Sk8land was much better this tried to bring the Flick-It system to the DS using the touch screen and it mostly worked. It has a high learning curve, but for those patient enough to stick with it you will have a good time.
Super Mario 64 DS – Nintendo – 2004
This was a launch title for the DS and holds up well today. It’s a full remake of the game and is still the best version. There are more characters to play as with different abilities, an expanded quest, and more stars to collect. It’s the definitive version of the game yet not many people talk about it. It’s far superior to the N64 version and is a must own, probably top 5, for the system especially with how cheap it is. You will probably always find at least one copy at every used game store.
Thor: God of Thunder – WayForward Technologies/Sega – 2011
This was released so far into the system’s life it barely sold anything and hardly anyone noticed. It’s made by the talented Shantae studio as well. Ignore Chris Hemsworth on the cover and ignore the movie license tie-in. This is through and through one of the best best platformers on the system bar-none. Don’t believe me? It’s made from the ground up and doesn’t follow anything from the movie. It looks fantastic, isn’t in 3D, bosses fill both screens, and it’s a blast. It’s not a fast paced platformer, and there are a few flaws, but it’s always overlooked.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 – EA Tiburon/EA – 2007
Welp, there was Tiger Woods at the beginning and then there was 08. You can’t get miracles here. The series skipped a few years and returned due to the popularity on the PSP. This is probably the only good golf game on the DS as it wasn’t a popular genre on the system. It looks decent, plays well, and uses the touch screen for the swing meter. It’s dirt cheap and if you are a golf fan then this is a no-brainer.
Tony Hawk’s American Sk8land – Vicarious Visions/Activision – 2005
An early game on the system, American Sk8land on GBA and DS was better than the console versions by a long shot. It had a unique art style, better controls, less dull, and got rid of the stupid skate park building system that wasn’t any fun in the console versions and had a better one. There was wifi mode on the DS which was a blast. This is probably the best skateboarding game on the DS.
Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam – Vicarious Visions/Activision – 2006
Downhill Jam was a pretty awful game, but the limitations of the DS pushed Vicarious to make a pretty good game. While not as good as Sk8land, this downhill racer is just that, but with Tony Hawk stuff thrown in. I much prefer the open levels, but this is still fun and a nice change of pace. Just stay away from the console versions.
Trauma Center: Under the Knife – Atlus – 2005
This game is hard as nuts. It’s solely unique to the DS hardware as you can’t do it anywhere else. Pulling out glass shards, zapping polyps, and stitching up patients. It has a crazy anime infused storyline about terrorism. The last few puzzles are so hard I have never finished them to this day, even on the Wii port. It’s still a lot of fun and has that Atlus difficulty curve thrown in for good measure.
At this point in time Call of Duty had already gone way off the deep end and the futuristic warfare and yearly releases were becoming a joke. Black Ops III has the absolute worst campaign in the entire series and the multiplayer is a joke. While zombies are quite enjoyable, it’s not enough to justify a purchase. The AI is insanely stupid, there’s zero challenge, and the environments, story, characters, and weapons are all generic, boring, and poorly designed. The cinematic moments are gone, the maps are stupidly generic, and it feels so bloated and on life support.
The last entry in the Modern Warfare timeline was a huge disappointment. The campaign was a boring generic slog, the multiplayer had lame maps, and it didn’t distance itself enough from the last two games. It was the same weapons, the same type of maps, menus, and multiplayer setup. There just wasn’t enough here to make the series stand out anymore and this marked the beginning of a steep decline for the series. While it’s playable, it’s not fun or memorable at all.
Best Version: PC
16. Call of Duty: Roads to Victory – 2007
While enjoyable for sure, the game is very rough around the edges and was released during the end of the tiring World War II craze that ran for over 10 years. Everyone was tired of it, Modern Warfare was about to come out, and the PSP wasn’t a great system for shooting games. It was a very generic and forgettable Call of Duty experience and wasted the portable opportunity. At least it had some fun online multiplayer but was short-lived.
Black Ops II dropped the ball for this new timeline. The first game was amazing with great cinematic moments, fun multiplayer maps, and a whole new Vietnam War feeling to it, but Black Ops II tried to shoehorn a silly story into generic gameplay and some very boring multiplayer maps. It was a huge disappointing mess and marked the end of this timeline. It’s playable, but there’s no redeeming value to this game that makes it stand out.
Best Version: Wii U
14. Call of Duty: Finest Hour – 2004
The very first console Call of Duty game. I remember getting this for Christmas in 2004 and was so incredibly excited. Console gamers could finally play Call of Duty, however, Finest Hour was far from the series’s finest moment. There were huge technical problems, the game felt like a step back for the series, and the campaign was generic and forgettable. It at least had some fun online multiplayer, but it was a good effort.
A surprising console-only release, Call of Duty 3 was the third game in the original timeline and was better than most people expected. While it didn’t look that great it played fairly well, felt like classic Call of Duty, and was fast-paced and fun. It was very forgettable, however, and was at the tail end of the WWII craze that everyone wanted to die. There was something strange about this game as it felt dated, yet somehow still cinematic and fun, and had decent multiplayer as well.
Best Version: Xbox 360
12. Call of Duty 2: Big Red One – 2005
Riding on the financial success of Finest Hour, Big Red One turned out to be a much better game, yet didn’t get as much attention. It had a cinematic and well-thought-out campaign and was much more enjoyable this time around.
Ghosts was a more boots-on-ground return to the series and felt a little closer to the original Modern Warfare series, but was too little too late. The additions of canine partners and some great cinematic moments just weren’t enough, including the first game in the next-generation cycle of consoles. The multiplayer was decent, but it felt like it was stuck in limbo and trying to be two different games at once.
Advanced Warfare tried pushing big-name actors to sell copies, and Advanced Warfare had some awesome cinematic moments, but the story and characters were garbage, and the multiplayer was extremely unbalanced due to the jetpacks and weird futuristic gameplay. It looked really good, as it used a brand new engine for the series, but it was just too weird and too much of a departure from what fans loved.
Infinite Warfare has received more flack than any other game in the series, but it’s not the worst. For a series receiving so much resistance and backlash, it did some different stuff in the campaign that was quite interesting. Some of the characters were actually quite interesting and I cared about them a little which was odd for the series. The multiplayer was a generic feeling, as usual, but the campaign was a nice change of pace and the experimentation was a breath of fresh air for the series.
Best Version: PC
8. Call of Duty – 2003
I never got a chance to play this until much later after release, but in 2003 this game was a graphical powerhouse, extremely cinematic, and set the standard for historic shooters. The campaign felt realistic, varied, and had some memorable moments. It was later released on consoles but remained exclusive to PC for nearly a decade. It gave PC gamers a proud reason to be so as this game would have crippled consoles back in the day.
Being a port for Xbox 360 from a 2-year-old game was risky, but this game helped sell Xbox 360s and looked fantastic on the system. On PC, as it was exclusive for, was a great sequel to an already great game. It pushed hardware to its limits, had some fun exciting cinematic moments, and was decent multiplayer. It took everything everyone liked from the first game and expanded upon it, but it was a little more forgettable this time around.
United Offensive is one of the best games in the original WWII storyline as it was intense, extremely cinematic, felt varied, and kept you on your seat. I played the campaign straight through and I usually don’t do that in this franchise. The game had an incredibly cinematic and tense campaign, probably one of the best in the entire series, and was highly overlooked. Everyone was gearing up for CoD 2 and United Offensive was sort of mulled over, sadly it was never ported to consoles.
World at War was a call to long-time fans and something to really look forward to. They made a huge risk by bringing you back to WWII, in the Japanese theater, and somehow creating one of the best games in the entire series. It was really looked over and a lot of fans never played this because of the WWII roots, but the campaign is spectacular and had some awesome moments as well as weapons and beautiful locales.
Black Ops was the one and only good game in that timeline. The campaign was exciting, cinematic, had a crazy story and characters, and the multiplayer had some fantastic maps and great new era weapons. The brand new Zombies mode pretty much kickstarted a whole new series in the timeline and became the most popular multiplayer mode in the entire series. It’s seriously the last amazing game in the series and playing this reminds us why.
Another great risk, and desperate attempt to get people back into the series, the game followed Battlefield’s step and went back to its roots. WWII was a fantastic attempt at everything from a beautiful new next-generation engine, cinematic gameplay, and interesting characters. While the campaign lost steam partway through, it’s more enjoyable than most of the games in the series and reminds us what Activision can do when they are actually inspired and put some thought and love into a game.
The game that really started it all. It revolutionized first-person shooters on consoles as well as multiplayer that almost every military shooter has copied since. The careful detail to level design, cinematic moments, characters, and pacing was something Infinity Ward was masters at. The multiplayer is also something everyone has copied for the last 10 years and it’s clear why. The maps are perfectly designed, memorable, and a blast to play.
Why is this the best in the series? It took everything that made CoD4 amazing and stacked on top of that, plus the series hasn’t done something like that since. It’s sad to see a series lose steam too fast, but MW2 took risks and controversy proudly and even made some of the best multiplayer maps ever created in a game. It was perfect with well-balanced weapons, a fun and fast-paced campaign, and a multiplayer mode that hasn’t been as good since.
My favorite video game of all time is Mortal Kombat. Something about the characters, violence, lore, and overall atmosphere that the game brings is just so satisfying to me. It was also the first video I ever played at 2 years old which was the original game on Sega Genesis back in 1993. From Fatalities to special moves, stages, and rocking industrial techno music, Mortal Kombat is one of the best, and longest-running, video game franchises of all time. That’s not to say the game went through some ups and downs. I have listed every main Mortal Kombat game from worst to best. I didn’t include various ports as they varied by quality, and discluded any handheld version as they were just dumbed down ports of larger games. I will also list the most superior port or version of that game as every port varied wildly due to various hardware limitations.
16. Mortal Kombat: Special Forces – 2000
Is this really a surprise? Only beating out Mythologies by a fraction, Special Forces was a 3D action game disaster created by co-creator John Tobias and putting a damper in any future Mortal Kombat spin-offs. The game was near unplayable with awful graphics, terrible controls, a lame story, and nothing to really do with Mortal Kombat itself. It’s worth a play just to see how far down Mortal Kombat got, but this is by far its lowest point, but not the lowest timeframe.
15. Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero – 1997
Not much better than Special Forces, but at least the game was somewhat playable and felt more like Mortal Kombat. a 2D side-scrolling platformer, you play as Sub-Zero and run into awful live-action cut-scenes (the N64 version was spared of those) terrible controls, and boring gameplay. This game is probably not even worth touching unless you’re just curious.
Best Version: PlayStation
14. Mortal Kombat Gold – 1999
A direct port of MK4 and Dreamcast exclusive, Gold was too little too late with Soul Calibur and various other fighters pushing the genre into the next generation. It was clunky, tiring, old, and just didn’t feel right on the system this late in the game. It’s very playable, and MK4 fans will enjoy newcomers like Cyrax and Mileena, but it’s probably the worst game in the main fighting series.
13. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon – 2006
While being the next-generation MK Trilogy of sorts, Armageddon was a lazy cop-out for keeping the series at its yearly releases and was the end of this generation of 3D MK games. It featured every single MK character ever made up to Deception and shoved them all in the two-style martial arts that this trilogy of MK titles gave us. By this point, MK was really going downhill and fatigue was setting in with a bloated disc full of weird mini-games and cheap generic Kreate-A-Fatality that was more complicated and irritating than ever. Press certain button combos to create the same gory move for every character and just string them together as quick as you can, yeah what a waste. A few years of development and this could have been a game to remember. The Kreate-A-Fighter mode was the only new and original part. Mortal Kombat Kart racing was awful with shallow race tracks and no thought put into it, the Konquest mode was much better than Deception’s but was still a weird thing to even exist. Overall, it’s very playable and fun, but it’s just the most generic MK game ever made.
Best Version: Xbox
12. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance – 2002
Deadly Alliance shot the series into the next generation with brand new fighters and an all-new realistic martial arts approach to the game. With a story mode that’s really just a giant training mode, a fun Krypt area to unlock extras, and two awesome Fatalities per character, it only beats out Armageddon due to the originality within the game. The new characters are great and mostly untouched throughout the later games, however, the graphics were dated and everyone looked like plastic dolls with blood that looks like Jell-O. It was still gory and fun, but far from the greatness, the 2D games offered.
Best Version: Xbox
11. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe – 2008
This threw fans for a loop as MK mashed with DC to create a weird and forced fighting game no one asked for. The biggest hit was the Teen rating with the DC character performing “Heroic Brutalities” as they never kill and the MK character performing the most basic “Fatalities” that felt more like Wile E. Coyote ACME stunts. The fighting core was a slight departure from the previous games with a 2D plane and seemed pretty solid, but there was something off about the whole game. It’s decent, and quite playable, but very forgettable.
Best Version: PlayStation 3
10. Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks – 2005
Shaolin Monks would be the last MK spin-off and actually did it right. Created by another development team, Monks lets you play as Liu-Kang and Kung-Lao with an over-the-top 3D brawler that is set in the MKII storyline. Using assets from that game such as stages and characters and even lore, the game recreated the MK experience with a fantastic fighting system that was fluid and even more fun with a second player. There were many secrets and the game is highly replayable. The only issue was the game was only 4 hours long, had awful voice acting, and a stupid story. Other than that, this is a must-play for MK fans.
Best Version: Xbox
9. Mortal Kombat 4 – 1997
This was the biggest turning point for the entire series. The game went forward into 3D forever and the result was some weird clunky stuff, but it was fast-paced and violent and somehow just worked. Not many games did 3D fighting very well at the time and the great roster and some of the best Fatalities in the series make for an awesome fighting game. The use of weapons was introduced for the first time as well.
Best Version: PlayStation
8. Mortal Kombat 3 – 1995
MK3 had a lot riding on it at this point in time as it had big shoes to fill after MKII. The game was darker, more realistic, and added some mechanics such as running, Brutalities, and a secret code menu. MK3 also had some of the most memorable characters the series will see such as Sheeva, Kabal, and Smoke. The problem was the combos were so difficult to pull off a lot of people were turned off that the game relied on this system, not to mention the cheap ass AI.
Best Version: PlayStation
7. Mortal Kombat – 1992
The original is far down the list due to the fact that so many games in the series improved upon it, but it’s higher than others due to the originality and the fact that it has a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that no other game in the series nailed. The original roster and Test-Your-Might combined with the Fatalities and simple moves make this one of the best video games ever created. There’s quite a story behind this game and the fact the ESRB was created because this game says a lot. It’s a very simple and basic game, but it holds a huge piece of gaming history.
Best Version: Sega CD
6. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 – 1995
An upgrade version of MK3, UMK3 is widely considered the best 2D MK game ever made as it perfected what they were trying to do with MK3. Adding new characters such as Rain, Noob Saibot, and Khameleon, and adding an Aggressor meter as well as making combos much easier, UMK3 was fast, looked good, and was dark with everything the series had to offer up until then.
Best Version: Nintendo DS
5. Mortal Kombat II – 1993
Most people will say MKII is the best game in the series due to the perfect balance and style between MK1 and MK3. It was a little darker, more sinister, and had an imaginative roster of new characters such as Baraka, Kitana, Mileena, and Jax. The stages were amazing and the introduction of Babalities and Friendships helped set the tone for the series from here on out. The controls were tight and the game looked amazing.
Best Version: Sega Saturn
4. Mortal Kombat Trilogy – 1996
MKT was a best-of compilation of the series up until that point. Taking every single character, stage, and mixing several -Alities together, the game was a massive success and was a blast to play. You could also play as the bosses which were completely unheard of back in the day and it was so much fun. Trilogy remains one of my favorite MK games of all time and I spent hundreds of hours perfecting this game.
Best Version: PlayStation
3. Mortal Kombat: Deception – 2004
Deception was the best 3D game up until this point and had a lot to offer. It improved immensely on Deadly Alliance’s realistic martial arts and added new game modes and some amazing characters and stages. The game was just dark, gritty, and hit that perfect style that people loved. While the three martial-arts styles were a bit clunky and memorizing long combos was silly, most people forgave it for the amount of content available. Chess Kombat is still one of my favorite MK game modes of all time. Play chess like normal and then duke it out to take over the square. Puzzle Kombat took the Street Fighter version and added Chibi MK characters duking it out on screen. However, Konquest mode was a nasty ugly chore to unlock stuff in the Krypt. It was also the first online fighting game ever made and was buttery smooth across the board with a lobby room, ranking system, and various other features. I played this game for so many hours I lost count. The Fatalities were amazing and the new Hara Kiris which were “reverse Fatalities” blew my mind away. It was as competitive as it got and holds a special place for me as it was the first game I had ever pre-ordered as well.
Best Version: Xbox
2. Mortal Kombat – 2011
With DC Universe disappointing fans so much we had all lost hope. Thankfully many consider this version to be the best 3D MK game to date and rightfully so. It builds off of MKII’s balancing and uses most characters up through MK3 so it keeps it old school. The X-Ray moves shook the industry and added a whole new meaning to gore and violence to video games. The new Challenge Tower was a blast and it featured the best story mode in any fighting game to date with halfway decent voice acting for once. Sadly, the game was quickly abandoned and only featured 4 DLC characters before being cut loose.
Best Version: PlayStation 3
1.Mortal Kombat X – 2015
MKX not only pushes the entire series in a new direction but shows fighting games a whole new level of production values and content. Taking the best from MK 2011 and the 2D games, MKX feels heavier, chunkier, and more violent than ever and that’s a good thing. Using Unreal Engine 4 and creating some of the sickest Fatalities to date, MKX also introduces some great new characters for the first time since Deception. The stages are awesome, the DLC characters rock, and the story mode is actually quite amazing and pushes the last game in the back corner. The new Krypt mode is more interactive and can almost be a game all on its own, and the new online towers make the game feel like it’s 1992 all over again.
Assassin’s Creed is one of my favorite franchises of all time, and despite all the hate it gets for its yearly releases, there truly isn’t an actual bad game in the series. Each game has high production values, large open worlds, fantastic visuals, and the only bad thing is that it may not be as good as its predecessor or core components are just lacking. Assassin’s Creed is always held to incredibly high standards by the gaming industry because of what the first game achieved. It was a revolutionary game that completely took advantage of next-generation hardware and created a fantastic immersive experience that no other game had done before. Ubisoft rode this success a little too hard and the game’s quality varied wildly over the years, but in the end, they are all quite playable and somewhat enjoyable. I’m going to go all the way back to 2007 to today and rank the Assassin’s Creed games from worst to best.
NOTE: Mobile games will be excluded (Pirates, Identity, Rebellion, Towers, etc.) as none of them are good and I can’t even count them as the main games in the series. Portable entries will be included, however.
14. Assassin’s Creed Unity – 2014
This is probably the lowest point in the entire series so let’s come out swinging. Unity was highly anticipated as it was the first entry in the series to use next-generation consoles and technology with an entirely new engine. The four-player co-op experience got people excited and man did it look gorgeous. Fast-forward to launch day and you have one of the buggiest and ugly launches in gaming history. The entire game was completely broken with glitches, crashes, entire consoles being corrupted, save data lost, servers crashing, you name it.
Get back into the game today and most of the issues have been patched out, while still full of bugs and problems, the game just wasn’t that interesting. The main character was boring, the French Revolution setting rode too hard on Assassin’s Creed III’s coattails. The combat was pretty much the same, and the bloated activities were ever-present and even copied from previous games. Chase these song notes, collect all the chests, collect all these medals, etc. It was tiring and overwhelming and not satisfying anymore. Then on top of that include a crowded UI, irritating side missions, and “investigations” as an excuse to use Eagle Vision more, and you have Unity. It’s still very much enjoyable, but the fatigue was really high with this game and it makes it the worst in the entire series.
13. Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles – China, Russia, India – 2015-2016
Assassin’s Creed had dabbled in the 2.5D realm before with the very first mobile entry and Discoveryfor DS. While they weren’t awful, it took away what made Assassin’s Creed grand in scale and only concentrated on half-baked combat and stealth. The problem here is that Chronicles didn’t have anything interesting going for it. The gameplay was solid and felt like an Assassin’s Creed game, but the story, characters, and the world were void of anything fun or interesting. Not to mention the game was riddled with bugs, had performance issues on portable systems, and was squeezed into a release window right at the peak of the Assassin’s Creed fatigue, so basically it was a game no one wanted or cared about.
12. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue – 2014
Rogue isn’t a bad game at all, in fact, it uses one of the most interesting characters in the series, but the gameplay, design, and overall feeling were right at the lowest point of the series and no one cared about this game. It was released the same day as Unity and felt completely unnecessary as it was more of an expansion to Black Flag. So it felt dated compared to Unity’s newer features. The game focused more on the pirate stuff and was a literal copy and paste of Black Flag, so you had a slightly interesting world with varied locales, and a better story than Unity, but so much dated content including the visuals as it was using the previous generation engine instead of Unity’s. It’s a very playable game, but it feels the most generic of the entire series.
11. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate – 2015
Less than a year after Rogue and Unity we got an entirely new game in a new setting so it was a little promising, yet still, no one cared anymore. Not to mention, the Chronicles games were still being released so it was just so bloated and tiring at this point. Syndicate only ranks higher as it’s slightly more interesting with better main characters and a more interesting setting. The gameplay pretty much remains the same as Unity with slight tweaks, but it’s not enough to save the series from the staleness. The game looks fantastic and isn’t nearly as buggy as Unity, but at this point everyone wanted the series to die. You had an entire formula of collect-a-thon nonsense, the same Assassination scenarios, co-op that most people didn’t play, and controls and combat that had been used to death. This was the turning point in the series.
Being the one and only Assassin’s Creed on PSP, and never ported to other systems, people were excited to go back to Altair was we never really saw him again. This game actually had a fantastic story and rode that more than gameplay. The game itself was really flawed with small little areas rather than an open world, clumsy controls, and dated gameplay, but it looked good doing it. Bloodlines gave us closer to Altair’s story and sadly most fans of the series never played this one.
Riding off the success of Assassin’s Creed III, Liberation was a portable spin-off for Vita and gained a lot of steam and momentum of being a true Assassin’s Creed game in portable form. We got one of the best protagonists in the series, and a decent-sized world in an entirely new setting. New Orleans was great to play in, and despite being short, Liberation pleased many fans. Now, it was maybe too similar to III on consoles and was stripped down of some features that the game had, but it was just right for a portable form and looked amazing on the Vita.
Revelations was a surprisingly excellent game and gave us a satisfying conclusion to Ezio’s story. Revelations felt like a “best-of” up to that point with smaller open areas rather than a big world and were short and sweet at a steady pace. The game was honest with itself and did what other games in the series, later on, should have done. It felt like a short story or a small expansion to Brotherhood rather than being a bloated monster that no one cared about. The new gameplay ideas were fun, and it was just a solid game despite being so short. It also marked the end of the first-generation Assassin’s Creed games and would go on to be segmented from the rest.
The original should be at the top right? Not necessarily. The game had a split divide on whether you love it or hate it. This game, if you play it today, has the core Assassin’s Creed elements and nothing else. Stealth assassinations, parkour, and an open world. There were no side quests or anything to do except collect feathers and flags. It was a revolutionary game for its time with a game engine like no one had ever seen, and a fantastic protagonist and art style. The game is great as the sum of its parts rather than when you break it down. It feels pretty stiff and dated today, but in 2007 Ubisoft was one of the few companies that took a plunge and created a revolutionary game.
Brotherhood was only the third game in the series, but fatigue was starting to show, however, Brotherhood did what future games should have done, and that just gives everyone the world they love while expanding on a great character and giving more content and new ideas. Brotherhood had enough ideas to create a new branch, but instead, they expanded Italy, added a great multiplayer suite, and threw in assassination crews to help during stealth gameplay, some small strategy elements, and a great side quest to collect some ancient armor. Brotherhood was incredibly fun and didn’t feel bloated or overdone. It was just right and rode the success of its predecessor correctly. Sadly, this was the only time that was ever done, but Brotherhood remains most fans’ favorite.
This was the first turning point in the series marking Revelations and back as the first-generation Assassin’s Creed and the end of Ezio’s journey. III was divided as it didn’t feature a rich story and characters but focused solely on exploration. III was the first game to have an organic open world rather than just plucking you in a large city full of buildings. There was a wilderness, mountains, the ocean, and everything could be explored. It was amazing and felt great, but fans missed the good story and characters. While the American Revolution was perfect for the series, and Boston is actually one of the best worlds in the series to explore, the reasons behind it were lacking. The gameplay was also improved with before parkour animations, controls, but the combat had not changed much and there was more collect-a-thon stuff that the rest of the series took and ran with.
Considered the best game in the entire series, Assassin’s Creed II is also the reason why the series took such a steep decline. They literally perfected the first game to the point of not needing more perfection. It expanded on the first game so much that it blew people’s minds away. Animations, character, story, content, weapon and armor upgrades, a larger open world, dual assassination takedowns, ranged weapons, etc. This all seems silly now, but that’s a lot to add to a game and then make it a staple for the series even to this day. This game is both beautiful and terrible as how could a game be so perfect? It’s one of the highest-rated games of all time for a reason.
3. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – 2013
Considered by most to the most wholesome and fun game in the series, Black Flag took out what everyone hated in III and added some of the best characters and stories in the series, game everyone the amazing marine battles, and a giant open world with wilderness just like III. It was the first game to feel truly bloated with mode-side stuff that you can shake a stick at, but it also had the best feeling of exploration and discovery. Large empty caves and chasms, derelict ships, and a wide variety of environments to explore made Black Flag the end of the second generation of Assassin’s Creed game and probably the peak of the entire franchise.
2. Assassin’s Creed Origins – 2017
Origins marks the beginning of the third generation of games and the latest turning point in the series. Origins were set in an entirely new era, environment, and added and changed so much it has started to turn into more of an RPG than an action/adventure game. The game is using the next-generation engine from Ubisoft and adds more RPG elements such as equipping armor and weapons on every part of the body, and making it visible, but also giving the player levels and stats. The world also feels more organic and focuses less on traditional elements in the series like Towers, collecting, and faction stuff. Instead, the world is more explorable with question marks riddling the map for you to explore at your own pace and keeping the world a mystery. The world feels more like an actual world and not just cities with some open areas to funnel you to the next city. There are actual activities and life in-between large areas and the combat is immensely improved. The entire control scheme changed with less of a parry/counter-attack fest and more on skill and execution. Timing is key, enemies have levels, and different weapon types mean more in this game. Origins is just a whole new beast and so drastically different from the last ones it can be an entirely new series on its own.
1. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – 2018
While the game was just released, and from only playing a few hours, you can tell this is the best the series has to offer. It takes everything from Origins and does what Brotherhood did for II. The world of Greece is the most organic world in the series and the largest with the series going into more of the RPG territory than ever before. Dialog options, better horseback riding, and less hand-holding encourages exploration and discovery. The game is also just stunningly beautiful with so much detail crammed into every nook and cranny, it’s mind-boggling. The animations are uncanny, the combat has been improved to include abilities and passive stats, but the skill tree is also improved upon Origins. Odyssey is moving the series in the right direction, but let’s hope it doesn’t repeat the problems of the last 10 years.
I’m not really big on gaming headsets as I don’t need to use them often as I have my own place, but when I do I want something amazing, something that can deliver the quality and power of large speakers inside some cans. After having the Razer Man O’ War for about 18 months I switched over to some wired headphones and moved brands. Why Kingston? Well, the reviews are great and it’s plug and play, which may say iffy to some, but it works out well in the end.
Some people want fancy software, RGB lighting, and crazy controls, but Kingston went a different route here. Most PC headsets are not compatible with a console, but these are thanks to a proprietary USB 7.1 audio card built in the cable with Dolby. Now the downside is that these are only stereo headphones with the 3.5mm jack adapter, but they still sound amazing. The USB port has a three-part equalizer for flat, bass boost, and vocal. For gaming and movies, you can activate the Dolby 7.1 surround sound with just a button allowing the headphones to control everything and no need for any software.
The mic is completely removable which is a nice feature and works just how you would expect. There’s a button to mute the mic on the control box, but for consoles, you will need to remove it completely to mute it through the hardware. Outside of these features the headset itself is extremely comfortable and feels like a cloud sitting on your head. Instead of adjustable bands, we get a tension-sensitive soft band under a hard outer band. This means the band adjusts to your head shape easily without any fiddling. The ear cups are super soft and no sound escapes. Since these are wired headphones I had to figure out where to clip the control box which wound up going on my keyboard cable to keep it nearby so I can access the controls easily. The cord behind that is rather long which is needed for console use.
Here’s the big question: How does 7.1 audio sound in games and movies? Well, it works surprisingly well. The built-in sound card does a good job decoding the audio and making it sound incredible. I could hear gunshots behind me, people talking next to me, and explosions sounded epic and amazing. Games with 7.1 options sound even better and more realistic, but sadly there aren’t many games with this built-in.
With that said the HyperX Revolver S is a solid wired headset without the flash and fancy software accompanying most headsets these days. They are extremely comfortable, give an amazing sound output that is crisp and clear, and also have great 7.1 audio capabilities. There are a few minor gripes like the control box being in a weird spot on the cable, only three equalizer settings, and missing software for those who like to fine-tune, but what’s here works surprisingly well straight out of the box and is plug-and-play. This is a versatile headset for any gamer, but sadly the 7.1 only works through USB and the 3.5mm jack is strictly stereo. For the price point, you get bang for your buck that you won’t get with most other headsets.
I can count on two hands the amount of JRPGs I have actually finished from start to finish. I’m not a completionist with these games as they are long-winded, difficult, and usually very complicated and complex. Golden Sun is no exception. It starts out as a light-hearted easy-going JRPG, but then things turn around quickly once you get into the meat of the game.
That’s not to say Dark Dawn is bad at all, but it’s the only Golden Sun game I’ve actually played. I dabbled in the first game a bit but never got through it. The first things that got me hooked in Dark Dawn were the visuals, some of the best on the system, and the deep combat system. Golden Sun isn’t just about attacks and magic powers. The lore uses elements of the Earth to create Psynergy that each hero can harness and unleash which you will use more than regular attacks. Djinni is little creatures that you can equip to enhance stats, add new synergy powers, and summon giant creatures. The combat system requires quite a bit of strategy and you can’t ignore this Djinn system. You must go around collecting at least half of them or you will never be able to finish the game. This is part of where my issues started to set in.
While combat is deep and complex, and quite fun, the exploration part of Golden Sun is just as deep. Every dungeon is full of puzzles that require you to use your Psynergy powers to pull blocks, grow vines, smash rocks, and slap stuff around. You unlock these powers as you acquire new party members and go along in the game. The game is actually quite large spanning a huge map and a couple dozen dungeons which are quite a lot for a handheld title. Once you get a third through you unlock your ship which allows you to access the rest of this world. There are many towns to explore, people to talk to, and weapons and armor to acquire. I never had an issue always having the most powerful stuff as the game is generous with money during battles. I also found this was the easiest game to level up in, but more on that later.
So, while the first few dungeons were easy and just the right amount of hard to figure out, they became obscure and downright confusing and labyrinthine later on. I actually needed a walkthrough for the last half of the game. I had no idea where to go, or what to do, and the game requires certain objects to be obtained before you can even continue the story. I would never have known this without a walkthrough. When I got to the final boss I actually had to level up 20 whole levels to beat him because I didn’t acquire all the Djinn in the game. I had to compensate with much higher base stats even though I had the most powerful weapons and armor in the game. Thankfully, in the final dungeon, the enemies are really easy and I could level up every two battles which is something I’ve never seen in a JRPG. The 20-level climb took only about 2 hours which is fast compared to most.
How about the story? Well, there’s a lot of lore here and I appreciated all of it, but it’s just really forgettable and not all that interesting. You start out trying to find a bird feather to power a flying machine you broke then you end up saving the world? The dialog and writing are extremely cheesy and cliche and I just wanted everyone to shut up. The characters are nice, but once again, forgettable. I had higher hopes for the story in this series, the lore, and everything is there, but it’s just not very fulfilling.
Overall, Dark Dawn is still one of the best games on the DS and one of the best looking. The graphics are fantastic with clean texture, high res models, and so much detail. The game is just brimming with variety and beautiful locales. I can only recommend this game to the hardest of hardcore JRPG players. The game is so complex and full of optional bosses, hidden weapons, and armor, that won’t appeal to most players. It’s fun and pretty straightforward until about 10 hours in then it gets complex and overwhelming.
I’m not sure what it is with the Spider-Man series, but the movie-based versions are always the best. This is usually the opposite with video games, but it doesn’t deny this strange truth with Spider-Man. The best Spidey game, in my opinion, was Spider-Man 2 based on the Sam Raimi movie. The huge open world was unheard of in a game like this back then, and the graphics, at the time, were astounding. It felt high budget, and despite copying the movie, was really amazing. TASM follows suit as well with some tricks up its sleeve.
This game is actually a sequel to the recent movie and is highly entertaining. You play as Spidey and are trying to take down the cross-species that Oscorp created. The bad guy here is Alistair Smythe who runs this place, and this is how the movie ties in. Spidey needs Doctor Connors to create a cure, but he’s locked up in an asylum after the events in the movie. The story is entertaining, but none of the actors from the movie take it apart here which is probably good. The characters resemble the movie characters but look a little different. This is how you do a movie-based game right.
The game is more cinematic than previous entries just by the way the camera is angled. The combat is pretty satisfying with using just one attack button, but the animations are so fluid and entertaining that you won’t care. Spider-Man doesn’t have a health bar but regenerating health. When you take too many hits (he can only take a few) you have to use the retreat feature which has Spidey flying off into a corner away from enemies to heal. Use Web Strike to immediately go right back into the fight which is awesome. Once enemies are stunned you can use special moves, and all these moves are upgraded by finding tech pieces throughout the game. One of my favorite things is the stealth mechanic which is done right for the first time in a Spider-Man game. Crawling on the ceiling shows a purple web radius under you and when guards are on it Spidey will drop down, wrap them up and hang them from the ceiling. The health system makes you use this feature because you can’t dodge enemies with guns. Your Spidey sense will turn red and this means the attack isn’t dodgeable. Use a quick web retreat and try the stealth again. Very satisfying and well done.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a complete Spidey experience without a huge open Manhattan to explore with side quests. Like Spider-Man 2 there are many missions like saving citizens from crimes, various timed side quests, collecting comic pages, police chases, and various others. They are a lot of fun at first but grow repetitive towards the end. Swinging around as Spidey is just so much fun and the well-done animations help this a lot.
The only big issue is that the layout of levels repeats often. Disable this lock, take down these turrets, beat up these enemies, turn this valve. It’s all very mundane, and even the boss fights are really easy with little challenge. Thanks to all the other elements being very solid you can look past this enough to get through the game. At least the graphics are fantastic, especially on PC. Beenox took the time to give PC users higher resolution textures and better-looking everything. This is rare in a movie-based game to see such attention to detail. There are some game-breaking bugs and glitches that were never addressed on PC and that is a real shame.
Overall, TASM is a solid Spider-Man game and probably one of the best yet. This is how you do movie-based games right. The story is entertaining, the combat is solid and fun, and exploring Manhattan is a lot of fun. The graphics are amazing, but I can’t help but feel annoyed by the repetitive level layout and easy boss fights. This is well worth a purchase, and even if you don’t like the movie you will enjoy this.