Third-person action games were big on PS2 thanks to games like Devil May Cry. They were some of the largest games you could find on the system, and Bujingai followed that trend. The story is nonsensical and has almost no point existing. You’re following a former master around who has been possessed by a demon and has taken your girlfriend or something lame like that. Having almost no story isn’t a great way to start a game either.
One of the big draws with this game was the fact that the Japanese rockstar Gackt was involved, and I mean about as involved as showing up and grunting. Advertising someone as big as Gackt was at the time and only having him grunt and shout is a complete waste of talent. He has zero lines of dialogue and probably finished his whole recording session in a few hours. There isn’t even any music by Gackt in here which is lame. With that said, the game is all about hacking and slashing and there’s plenty of that.
The game consists of a quick and heavy attack as well as dodging and a defense meter that auto-blocks attacks until the meter is run down. 90% of the regular enemies are brain dead and are a cakewalk to slice through. As enemies die you acquire orbs which are used to upgrade various stats. You also have spells that are hidden throughout levels and can be passive or active. I rarely used these and most are not that powerful, but the passive attack increase spell wound up being the most useful. Lau, the main character, has some really nice animations and the game is very flashy, but there are so many flaws that make this game a frustrating nightmare to play.
Something as simple as platforming is bogged down by an awful camera and finicky jumping mechanics. The character jumps in the direction the camera is facing and the direction can’t be altered mid-air. This led to dozens of minutes just trying to get across a few platforms. You can wall run, glide, and wall jump but they add to the chore and headache that is platforming in this game. The combat solely relies on the lock-on mode as the camera can’t keep up with the action. This proves extremely annoying during boss fights, and the final nail in the coffin is the uninterruptable animations that cause endless deaths and pointless damage being taken. Lau will spin and slice, but one button press is a series of animations that must be played out before you can even dodge. Even if you time your attacks in between the enemies’ most of the time you will still take damage because you can’t stop the attack. This also goes for the fall-down animations that take forever and recovery is just as slow.
The level design is also very bland with generic Japanese folklore-inspired enemies and repeated bosses. There’s not a soul in this game as it just feels like a cookie-cutter Japanese game that tried to get sales with Gackt’s name. I honestly didn’t feel like there was any benefit to playing this game the entire time I played and I couldn’t even finish the game due to how incredibly difficult it ends up being by just fighting the animations and camera. I got to the second to last boss and had to just give up after 2 hours of trying. It also doesn’t help that orbs aren’t given out often enough to allow you to upgrade fully before reaching the final 8th stage. I like how if you die you just restart the area you’re in instead of the entire level, but it means nothing if you can’t progress.
As it stands, Bujingai is a forgettable game with almost no point in existing. If you’re itching for a hardcore hack and slash that requires precise timing then this might be for you, but there isn’t even a decent story to complete and even Gackt fans have nothing to really gain here.
If you ignored the original Killzone back in 2004 I can’t blame you. It was a rough road for Guerilla as they tried to make an exclusive first-person shooter for Sony’s underpowered console to out beat Halo and Metroid Prime. Sony never had an FPS that was exclusive to their system, so it was Guerilla’s time to shine. It was dubbed “The Halo Killer” by fanboys and it sadly received lukewarm reviews upon release. I actually got this for Christmas 2004 and ate it up like candy and was a serious fanboy over this game. Fast forward 14 years later and I can see the game’s many flaws, but also appreciate what it did for the PS2.
You play as a squad of four who are tasked with stopping an evil Nazi-like empire known as the Helghast that is trying to destroy all of humanity over the planet Vekta. The story is bare-bones, but there’s a lot of potentials here with interesting art assets and great voice acting, but it just falls flat. There’s no background on the main characters of the war you’re fighting in. You’re literally just dropped in with no background or reasoning behind it. This was never done with Halo or Metroid Prime as you were pulled right into the war or battles and understood exactly why you were there. It’s just a bunch of cut-scenes with the squad going after various Generals and moving from Helghan base to Helghan base.
The shooting is very interesting as it’s part of why Killzone was loved by those who did like it. There’s a lot of weight behind the weapons and they are actually quite unique and shoot well. It’s your standard array of military weapons but with a twist and with some personality behind them. Honestly, the weapons are the only thing front and center in Killzone and dominate the entire game. From the ISA and Helghast standard assault rifles to rocket launchers, grenade launchers, pistols, and heavy machine guns. Most weapons have a secondary fire that helps balance their weaknesses such as the Helghan’s rifle has a shotgun attachment and the ISA one has a grenade launcher. I personally stuck with the Helghast assault rifle through the first fourth of the game as you can only play as Templar, but once the other characters were unlocked I played as Rico since he has a chain gun with 800 rounds and a missile launcher. It’s seriously overpowered but feels so good to mow everyone down around you. The only weapon I really disliked was the shotgun as it’s so slow to pump and shoot that unless you are one on one with a single enemy you’ll get killed because you can’t fire fast enough. It’s practically useless even in tight corridors.
The downside to the weapons having a lot of weight behind them is the animations. They are so long that it makes the game more difficult than it needs to be. Every time you switch weapons there’s a long animation of pumping the shotgun, fiddling with a rocket launcher scope, flipping up the lid on the scope to the sniper rifle, Rico’s chain gun takes at least 2-3 seconds to swing out then there’s a weird pump animation after so you have to hide behind walls every time you switch weapons because of these animations. The same goes for reloading. Some weapons take over 5 seconds to reload with the shotgun taking nearly 10 to load every single round. It’s fun to see and was never done up to that point in time, but it needed to be sped up or changed.
Outside of the weapons the enemy AI is as dumb as a doorknob with the Helghast literally standing around not shooting at all or they won’t move to cover. Part of this is the underpowered CPU in the PS2 and the game engine that pushed it way too far. There’s so much pop-in with fog of war to make up for the lack of a draw distance that enemies pop in and most of the time all at once so an entire room or corner will be full of Helghasts that are easy pickings with a single grenade or kill you really quickly if you don’t notice them. The game engine just chokes the PS2 like no other game with framerates dipping into single digits. I also played the remastered version for PS3 and while the 720p resolution looks sharper, there are still framerate drops because the engine just couldn’t handle the load. Sadly, because of the limitations, environments are bland and boring with claustrophobic corridors and almost no draw distance. The game is gray, dull, and colorless, and while this could have worked, the weak PS2 brings the art backward because not enough can be rendered on the screen to make it look nice.
The entire game pretty much plays the same way and takes about 5 hours to finish. There are no vehicle scenes, no scripted events, it’s all just running and gunning which gets old towards the end. For the PS2, this game is quite impressive and had a decent multiplayer mode, but there are more flaws than there are perfections. I would rather have had an uglier game that played better, but PS2 fanboys were clamoring for something that pushed the system like Halo did the Xbox. Is Killzone a Halo killer? Absolutely not and doesn’t even come close.
Kratos and God of War are PlayStation icons and symbols for what the system can offer. This game was the biggest hit in 2005 and I went nuts for it like everyone else. It reinvented the action-adventure genre like no one else had with epic boss fights, cinematic combat, and insane-level design. We finally get all of this in portable form on the Vita. While it isn’t the most ideal version it’s still plenty of fun.
God of War is really starting to show its age and flaws these days, that is really clear. It was a new idea, however well executed, but still had some issues. The game isn’t quite as epic as I remember thanks to newer games in the series being insanely huge. There are only two big boss fights in this game and I could swear there were more. The game is brutal in spots, but still rewarding with many secrets and areas to explore.
You play as Kratos, a Spartan general who cried out for Ares to save him and defeat his enemies, but this all came at a huge price. I won’t spoil more of the story if you have never played this series, but longtime fans know it already. The game has amazing combat which is what was praised so much 13 years ago. Using the Blades of Chaos, Kratos can swing and spin them around with amazing animations and kill hordes of enemies. I’m not kidding about hordes, there are some scenes where you must defeat nearly a hundred enemies which is brutal.
The enemy variety is also great as there are small easy enemies to huge lumbering Cyclops that take many hits to kill. God of War is famous for quick-time event kills. After so much damage is taken the enemies will display the circle button above their head. This initiates a quick-time button pressing even that will give you health orbs. Each enemy has its own unique animations. Each enemy is also a challenge on their own as some are dangerous on hordes while not so much alone. The level design is fantastic and the enemy placement is cleverly laid out to offer a challenge every step of the way.
The series is also famous for the magic powers you acquire that are different with every game. You get four which become very useful for various enemies. Poseidon’s Rage is great for clearing hordes of weaker enemies as it’s an AOE attack. Zeus’ Fury is the only long-range weapon you get for picking off ranged enemies. Souls of Hades is like a shield, and Medusa’s Gaze is great for larger single enemies to turn them to stone. On top of the Blades of Chaos you also get Artemis’ Blade which is a powerful short-range heavy weapon, but once the Blades were fully upgraded, I honestly never really used it.
Outside of combat are puzzles that will sometimes slow you down. Most consist of pressing switches in order, climbing puzzles, or jigsaws. Pandora’s temple is a giant puzzle within itself that takes up a third of the game near the middle. I just can’t stress enough how hard this game can be. Some spots had me restarting dozens of times until I got it right and this included platforming sections. The first game’s Hell area is notorious for being brutally difficult. Having to balance on long spinning logs covered in blades and then climbing spinning spiked towers that stretch on forever is daunting, but rewarding when you do complete it.
Overall, God of War is still a blast to play 13 years later and is as well polished as I remember. Outside of hardware limitations at the time Sony did an amazing job creating what they did. There are some cheap deaths, unbalanced difficulty in spots, and the quick-time events do get repetitive, but it’s minor issues that can’t really bring the game down even today.
The Vita version is the only way to play this game in portable form, and it’s not the most ideal version. The PS3 version runs at a smooth 60FPS, but the Vita cleans up the visuals a little and does have some FPS drops when a lot of enemies are on screen, but it’s not often. I’m sad to see this game doesn’t hit 60FPS which it does even on PS2 sometimes, which keeps this game from getting a perfect score.
Make sure you have the latest version! The team is constantly making changes, and even if it doesn’t seem important it may fix your problem!
After 13 years PCSX2 is finally out of beta! Just about all of the PS2 libraries runs flawlessly or with a few minor issues that can be fixed with settings in the emulator. You will need a PC no older than 2 years old to get the games running at 60 FPS. You can use an older computer, but may not be able to run graphics-heavy games like Killzone, Black, Final Fantasy X, or Devil May Cry. You may be able to run other games like 2D RPGs such Ar Tennelico, Tales of Symphonia, as well as simpler games like Amplitude, Frequency, or Odin Sphere. Here’s what you should at least have to get the games running smoothly. The games are unplayable at 60 FPS and you experience the games in slow-motion. Instead of seriously jerking around like in PC games, the emulator will just play everything in slow-motion and voices sound like they’re drunk. Not a fun way to play.
With my laptop specs below I can play most less graphically demanding games at 60 FPS. Games like Black, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2, Killzone, God of War 2, Gran Turismo 3 and 4, won’t run on these specs. I get less than 20 FPS which is unplayable.
Minimum System Requirements:
Processor: Any dual-core CPU at least 3GHz. This includes AMD and Intel
Graphics Card: AMD RADEON HD 4xxx series or newer. NVIDIA GTX 2xx series or newer)
Onboard graphics chips WILL NOT ALWAYS WORK! This includes Intel HD Graphics chips, DON’T EVEN TRY IT! Your mileage will vary
Operating System: Windows Vista 64-bit
Mid-Range System Requirements:
Processor: Any quad-core CPU at least 3Ghz or faster (overclocked CPUs are best). 3rd generation Intel i7 CPUs are best or newer.
Graphics Card: GPU no older than 5 years. AMD RADEON HD 6xxx or up and NVIDIA GTX 5xx and up.
Memory: 6GB or more
Operating System: Windows 7 64-bit
With desktop specs below I can play any game out there with 3x native resolution and MSAA x4 and the games barely push my system. Even Killzone and Black run really well. Even games that are graphically demanding or require software mode to run push my CPU on the below rig. You need something similar to get the best results with no slow down.
Recommended (High-End) System Requirements:
Processor: Any quad-core CPU at least 3Ghz or faster (overclocked CPUs are best). Latest generation Intel i7 CPUs are best.
Graphics Card: The latest and greatest. AMD RADEON RX 560 or up and NVIDIA GTX 1050 and up.
Memory: 8GB or more
Operating System: Windows 10 64-bit
Here’s a video of me playing Gran Turismo 4 at 4K 60FPS with my current build above!
1. Here’s where to start. Download the installer *currently outdated* so download the latest SVN
2. Extract the folder to a location, click the exe and follow the setup wizard.
3. For the GS settings select (with whatever revision number after it there is one). This is for the newest processors with AVX2 for the fastest emulation. Only select lower if you know what you’re doing or if you have a really old computer (probably pre-2010).
4. For PAD select Lilypad and hit configure. Make sure your controller is plugged in and you should see the device near the bottom.
Leave all other settings (unless you know what you’re doing) and go to the Pad 1 tab.
Some controllers may come with preset bindings, but if not just click the buttons then press the button on the controller. If your controller has force feedback click the Big Motor and Small Motor buttons to change settings and test to see if it is being recognized by Lilypad. When done click apply. *Make sure you save your bindings in case you update PCSX2 and it loses your bindings! Bindings save is in General tab* Click ok and next in the wizard
5. SPU2-X should be your sound plugin. There’s no point in fiddling with this, but make sure your Interpolation is set to 2 or 3 and not 4 under Configure.
6. Just click next on everything else. These are CD drives, Firewire, and USB plugins that really don’t need fiddling with.
7. At the end, it will ask you about BIOS files. GOOGLE IT! The first 10 results will have links to the files. I can’t post them because they are copywritten by Sony and illegal unless you dump your own BIOS files from your own PS2 (which is complicated and confusing for the average user). But, it’s a pirate’s life for me! Once you get your BIOS files, put them in the bios folder in the PCSX2 folder and click refresh. Select the latest USA BIOS that shows up and you’re done!
Next are games. You can use ripped games or ones in the CD drive. For ripped games go to CDVD>Iso Selector>Browse. After this click System>Boot (fast) and your game should be running! Now to configure your graphics plugin to make the game work faster, and improve the quality of the game over what you would normally see on the PS2!
1. With your game in window mode go to Config>Video>Plugin Settings
You should have Direct3D11 (Hardware) selected. There’s another plugin that might look slightly different, but overall it’s the same so don’t panic. Selecting Software mode will make the emulator run everything off your processor only which will give you incredible slowdown (unless you have a monster 4+ core CPU). Hardware uses both GPU and CPU. Null doesn’t render any video and is pretty much useless.
There are some options here that most PC gamers will notice. Most of these settings will make you take some serious FPS hits (especially anti-aliasing and native resolution above 2x) so turn them on and if you notice any serious FPS drops turn them off.
1. Texture filtering– makes textures look cleaner and smoother (leave on Bilinear)
2. Internal Resolution – Makes the game looks much sharper without needing MSAA. A huge GPU hog starts with 2x and moves up until you start losing frames. Most high-end GPUs can go up to 8x on some games.
3. Anisotropic Filtering – A cheap way to make textures look smooth. Uses very little GPU power so always set to 16x unless you notice frame loss.
4. Software Rendering Settings – This renders with the CPU only and ignores the GPU. There are some games that only work in Software mode so check that game’s page first. Edge Anti-aliasing should always be set and enter the number of threads you have (however many cores you have times 2. EX: an i7 4770 has 4 cores so it has 8 threads. An i7 8700 has 6 cores so 12 threads). This is important to get the max speed out of your CPU.
5. Renderer– Always use DX11 Hardware unless a game specifies otherwise. This will get the most out of your GPU.
6. Enable HW (hardware) hacks – Only enable this if you have some graphics issues in games. After you enable it hit configure and you will notice MSAA (yes this makes the games look sharper, but with some serious FPS hits). Hover over each item and you will see a list of games they work on. If you are playing that game and notice graphical anomalies check it and see if your problem goes away (it probably will). If you are having weird issues, like Destroy All Humans 2! below, then that’s what skipdraw is for.
These fullscreen issues are rare now, but if they happen set skipdraw between 1-20 and it will usually go away. Destroy All Humans 2!’s full-screen issues like this go away at 5 skipdraw.
That’s pretty much it for the graphics plugin. For each game just tweak the settings and see how good you can make the game look without getting under 60 FPS.
Secondly, we’ll get to the Core settings which can make your game even faster! Go to Config>Video>Core GS Settings
If your game just doesn’t run well with basic settings try using speed hacks. Completely ignore the first three tabs! You will never need to change these. These are the PS2 EmotionEngine settings and only coders, programmers, and people who seriously know what they’re doing need to mess with these! Just focus on the last three tabs. The latest versions of PCSX2 have auto-mode enabled which is fine for most games, but some need tweaking. Try to always enable MTVU if you have a quad-core CPU or higher to get some much needed FPS.
Try adjusting steps 1-3 on EE Cyclerate first before using VU Cycle Stealing. Ignore the warnings on here, except when you’re on 3. If an FMV or cutscene is slow or stutters go back to 2 until it’s over (yes it’s a pain but what can you do?) VU Stealing can give you a bigger boost but may cause a slowdown in some games even if you are at 60 FPS. Things may run in slow-motion despite high FPS so turn down VU Stealing. Ignore all other settings here. Just fiddle with these sliders to your heart’s content.
This is where you can set the fullscreen aspect ratio, window size, etc. You can enable Vsync and other options and is pretty straightforward. Nothing complicated here.
This is all pretty self-explanatory. If you have a game listed here and you are having listed issues, check these fixes. Nuf said.
Playing the Game!
Now that all the boring stuff is out of the way it’s time to play! If you play in window mode you will notice some things at the top of the window.
The only things you have to watch are:
-Interlaced: When you press F5 to stop screen shaking this will tell you what interlace option is enabled.
-Limiter: This is very important! If you press F4 you will turn the FPS limiter off and see the full potential of your hardware and PCSX2! However, if the game runs above 60 FPS it will be like it’s in fast forward and will either freeze up or skip everything. Keep it on Normal.
-FPS: This is your frame rate per second. This should always be around 60.
Ignore everything else!
If you play a game in hardware mode some FMVs may not play. Press F9 and enter software mode so they will. If you ever get a half-screen problem you need to be in software mode. Currently Champions of Norrath is one of those games. You need a very powerful quad-core CPU to play in software mode, preferably a CPU with 8 threads or more. 4 thread CPUs are fine, but dual-cores won’t really work unless it’s highly overclocked (above 3Ghz).
PCSX2 has a save state feature where you can save anywhere in the game and load right back up to that moment whether it’s mid-swing in a boss fight, or just before a crucial move in a strategy game. Of course, you can save like on a normal PS2 which is recommended because save states can be incompatible with the different versions of PCSX2. There’s a backup feature that should be enabled in System just in case. Have fun and I hope this guide helped!
Legacy of Kain was a very popular series back in the day. An epic tale about vampires, Defiance is the final entry in the long-running series. You play as a vampire Kain and Raziel. You switch between the two solving puzzles, fighting enemies, and discovering secrets.
The game is well worth a playthrough and you don’t have to play the previous games to understand what’s going on. The story is told so well that you get the entire picture by the end of the game and it feels satisfying. It’s one of the few games back in the day that had a fantastic story that was worth trodding through the mediocre gameplay to see unwind. Playing as Kain is actually a lot easier than Raziel as his sections are shorter, he doesn’t have to do as many puzzles, and he’s more powerful, however, I was seriously disappointed with many aspects of this game as it became frustrating and repetitive long before I reached the end.
For starters, the level design isn’t the best and there’s more backtracking in this game than I can stand. You don’t just visit the same area twice or even three times, but over half a dozen and it becomes a drag. Kain’s segments are mostly just combat-oriented and finding Balance pieces to acquire one of four sword abilities. Raziel’s segments require him to find seven different swords and each element temple is exactly the same just rearranged. You go into the temple, get the new sword, fight a mini-boss, use the new element to unlock a portal, and repeat nearly a dozen times. It’s so tiring and boring that most people won’t finish the game.
It’s not just the temples that repeat but the rest of the game. You swap between the vampire citadel and a mansion and both Kain and Raziel revisit multiple times each. You go through the entire area once and then come back with a new ability to break through some wall that leads to a new area just to go through all over again as the other character. I find this poor level design, and some of the levels are confusing and maze-like and I just didn’t care for it. Raziel has to shift between the Material Realm and Astral Realm several times throughout levels, but you have to find a conduit spot to shift back into the Material Realm. It’s a neat idea, but later you realize this is more of a hindrance and doesn’t really add much to the gameplay. There aren’t any special puzzles that require you to swap between the two to make things really interesting. You just use it to pass through certain doors and for platforming.
Combat is also full of flaws with one major one being that Kain and Raziel fight nearly identically with Kain just being slower than Raziel. Both have telekinesis powers, both use a sword, and both dodge nearly the same. Dodging is one of the biggest problems in the game as you have to hold down the jump button while moving in a direction. Enemies move too fast to have time holding the button down. Why do you hold a dodge button? It doesn’t help that there are knockback animations and I absolutely hate these as it makes combat a drag. Throw in the fact that you don’t get more powerful throughout the game, each sword element just adds a different power attack when your meter is all the way up. There’s no sense of character progression at all, and this game is long enough (roughly 12 hours) to have that kind of system. You can acquire new special combos but they are difficult to execute and most of the time you just button mash. After about halfway through the game, I just ran past enemies unless I was forced to fight them. There’s no reason to fight these enemies at all except for health (both characters can absorb them to replenish) as there are no skill points or XP to gain.
I will say that the combat animations are fluid, the controls are solid, and everything works. The second biggest issue is the damn camera. It’s a static camera most of the time that spins around and you can’t control it. A lot of times objects were blocking the camera during combat, or I would fall and die because I couldn’t judge a jump right. The camera is atrocious and really detracts from the overall experience here.
The puzzles are also a joke as they are barely puzzles. Just push this block onto that switch and that’s all you do. There’s no thinking involved at all like other games in this genre. Now, it seems I’m ragging on the game, but I did enjoy it despite its many flaws. The voice acting is just fantastic as well as the story and characters, it’s the sole reason why I pushed on. The graphics are somewhat decent with lots of detail everywhere, but there are games that look much better especially since 2003 was a time when developers were really pushing these systems.
Once you beat the game there are zero reasons to go back. There are no alternate endings, to special unlocks, no nothing. There is great making-of stuff when you finish, but that’s it. Take it for what it’s worth and definitely pick this game up. It was one I missed growing up as a kid and I plan to play every game in this series despite all their flaws.
I have to note that this is the older, and better, model of the Cordless Precision Controller for PS2. The newer one doesn’t feel as nice but is more widely available. Besides the official DualShock 2, there isn’t a better controller out there. There were so many third-party controllers for the PS2 and they were all mostly terrible. From poor ergonomics to bad wireless technology or lame button placement. Some controllers opted for the Xbox style analog stick layout or was just poorly built. Logitech was the king of accessories back in the day, and while they were more expensive, they were worth the money. I had this controller last for over 10 years until it pretty much died on me recently and I had to buy a new one. That’s a long time for an accessory and it went through several moves, was stashed in storage for a couple of years, and was dropped, kicked, thrown, and smashed over and over again growing up.
What makes this controller the best wireless option for PS2 is that it just feels good and is more solid than the official controller. There’s more bulk and it feels heavier and more solid in your hands. The controller fits so nicely with shorter arms and a thicker back with larger top buttons. The D-pad is much improved and works well with fighters as it’s a rolling D-pad over the standard plus D-pad. My only complaint would be that the analog sticks are too loose for my taste and they take some getting used to.
The controller connects the receiver easily with just a press of a button and no need to repair it. I never once had to pair the controller over the 10 years I owned it. It shuts off after 5 minutes of inactivity, there’s a mode button for switching from digital to analog and that’s all you need. It lasts nearly 50 hours on 2 AAs so get some rechargeables and you’re golden. I also have to mention the battery cover is a pain to get off, but you can’t have everything.
Overall, this is the best controller option for the PS2 bar none. Sadly, it’s not made anymore and can be upwards of $50-60 used and new controllers run over $100. If you can nab one these are worth the investment tenfold. Just another side note, the black version is the most common with the silver being second and the blue one being nearly impossible to find. The silver ones pop up here and there, but I have yet to ever see the blue one.
Cover-based third-person shooters weren’t really a thing until the last console generation. Third-person shooters took quite a while to evolve into something truly stunning, and the best example of this is Gears of War which is third-person shooting perfected. Kill Switch was actually a sleeper hit back in the day and was widely talked about due to the great shooting and cover mechanic.
Kill Switch has a story that sees a male protagonist (I can’t even remember his name the story is so lame) trying to stop a dude named Archer from launching a nuke. In the process, you are trying to recover your memory of your wife being murdered by him? I don’t even know. The game is so short that it doesn’t allow any type of story to evolve let alone a bad one. The story is completely forgettable and I skipped all the dialog towards the end because it was a hot confusing mess.
The gameplay is where it’s at here. The controls are simple and the game is run and gun at its finest for the time. Holding R allows you to buckle against a wall or obstacle and you can blind fire over it, or you can pop up and shoot more accurately. I found that blind firing doesn’t quite work well if the obstacle is higher than you can raise your gun. Most of the time it did not work so I stuck to pop-up shooting. You can throw grenades and flashbangs as well as dodge rolling and melee attacks. It’s a pretty standard affair, but at the time it was done so well that there was nothing like it.
I have to say the level design is just plain bad and boring. Every level is a stereotypical military base with boring blank walls, stairs, and rooms. There is absolutely nothing to look at here despite the game being technically quite good-looking. The textures are sharp, the models are nicely made, and the animations are pretty good. It just goes to show that you are literally just coming into this game for the shooting and that’s it.
Maybe it’s a good thing this game is so short. Clocking in at about 4 hours if you don’t die a thousand times over trying to get through the hordes of enemies. There were issues with major difficulty spikes and draw distance. I would have a guy shooting at me accurately beyond where I could see — even with a sniper rifle. The weapons are nothing to write home about either, just your typical military machine guns and your token shotgun.
Overall, Kill Switch is worth a buy for its great gameplay that is fun and addicting. Just don’t expect a story or anything nice to look at. Is there a reason for there to be a sequel? Well, the story somehow manages to say that it hasn’t ended yet, but Kill Switch has no relevance today with better cover shooters like Gears of War. If it were rebooted into something fantastic that’s another story, but I honestly can’t see that happening. Kill Switch belongs in 2003 and should stay there — nice and snug.
This is actually a game I knew was a big deal back in the day and ignored it until now. I don’t if it was because I was too young to understand the concept, it seemed like another shooter, or something else told me to overlook it, but I’m glad I finally dived into one of the most popular and talked about games of the early 2000s. Freedom Fighters is a squad-based third-person shooter where you control the main protagonist Christopher Stone, and help the rebel fighters take back the United States from Soviet control.
The story isn’t really anything memorable, but the game does have a decent atmosphere about it. You feel the suppression of Russia as you run around the war-torn stages and view the cut scenes. Real-time scenes are mostly made up of news propaganda and the quick unfolding of the rebels winning. The game moves at a really fast pace isn’t that long and feels fairly average today, but back in the day, it was something new.
The game is structured around rebel bases that act as hubs and each set of levels is accessed via a map. Once you get into a level there are a few objectives to complete and then it’s on to the next one (in any order). If you find yourself hurting for supplies you can find manholes that act as checkpoints and can either quick save or go back to your base (but you lose all your squad members). The game actually doesn’t explain any of this and I had to figure this all out myself which was very confusing and frustrating.
When you complete objectives you get Charisma which gives you a squad member slot with every level. It’s imperative that you do most of the side objectives as later in the game you will need as many members as you can get. When you actually start shooting and playing the game feels extremely unbalanced and very difficult. The sheer amount of enemies that are thrown at you is insane. There are probably over 200 enemies in each level and the levels aren’t that big. The game uses an auto-aim mechanic which actually works with how many enemies they throw at you. Just pull the trigger and Stone will auto switch enemies on the fly without any issues. There is a manual aim mode, but it’s finicky and you can’t move while you aim. I would have liked fewer enemies and a more robust cover shooting mechanic instead.
This shooting mechanic is what makes the game so difficult, to begin with. I actually had to turn on cheats for rocket launchers as helicopters would come after me and there were no rocket launchers in the entire level. I was probably supposed to run from them, but the constant restarting was infuriating. Checkpoints are far and few between and the last thing I need is to mow down the same five waves of enemies over and over just to try a different zig-zag path with the helicopter.
This extreme balancing issue brings the fun of the game down quite a bit and after about three or four levels it all starts to feel the same again. There are not that many weapons to choose from with just standard assault rifle, submachine gun, heavy machine gun nonsense that has been done many times over. Squad member control was decent, as they followed you around, but send them out to fight on their own and they drop like flies. I’m actually glad the game was as short as it was as it got so repetitive and numb that I wanted it to all end.
The visuals and audio in the game are actually impressive for the time. There’s a lot of detail everywhere and the voice acting is rather excellent, but there are a lot of slowdowns when too much is happening on-screen at once. Overall, Freedom Fighters is a fast-paced third-person shooter on steroids, but the balancing issues, repetitive objectives, and overall frustrating difficulty bring the fun down quite a bit.
Well, I finally did it. I have played the entire Jak and Daxter trilogy and I have to say it is one of the most overhyped and overrated game series ever made. While the characters and charm are memorable, everything else is sub-par and less than mediocre. I thought that three times in Naughty Dog would have nailed the gameplay and fixed everything from Jak II but I was wrong. Instead, we get to revisit that crap fest with just some updated areas of Haven City and an entirely new boring open desert we can drive cars in that have awful physics.
Jak and Daxter must stop Errol who is some half cyborg from getting to the Death Star…thing. The only worthwhile part of the game is the very end when we finally get to know what the precursors are and I was very satisfied when I found out. Everything else is slightly smelly crap but complete crap nonetheless. We’re stuck with the same linear level design, repeated mission areas, hard as hell difficulty, wonky platforming, extremely wacky physics, and too much traveling between missions. I loved the new characters, but that’s all this game really had to go for it.
All the new content doesn’t really feel new. Sure the missions weren’t as difficult as Jak II but they were still annoying and boring. This felt like Jak 2.5 rather than a true sequel. The new open desert area is a complete bore to drive in and bandits will constantly spawn to attack you relentlessly. You are given several buggies but they all drive like crap. The only helpful addition was the new weapon mods. There are 3 for each weapon we had in the last game, but they are all really useful and I relied on them a lot throughout the game. However, the auto lock-on system is still just as crappy and you waste a lot of ammo just trying to aim in the general direction of the enemy.
Let’s talk about Haven City. I thought I would never have to see that awful city again but here we are. Each section has been more…updated due to the ongoing war with the Metal Heads and Krimson Guard. The areas are a tad more wide open and the same vehicles drive a tiny bit better but not much. There is a new camera angle that puts you right behind Jak, but it just made me noxious due to the awful physics. I really just wanted the game to end and it felt like a chore just like the last two games.
With that said if you played Jak II, you won’t need to expect much from Jak 3. I’m not sure if I’m more disappointed with Jak II than this game, but I honestly can’t recommend this one either. The entire series feels like a complete bust to me and that’s a crying shame.
This review has actually been a long time coming. I never really liked or got into Jak and Daxter. I gave Jak II a shot back when I was about 13 and for some reason liked it, but I also remember being extremely frustrated and hating it too. The game was a complete redesign of the series. Gone is the aimless platforming and collect-a-thon stuff. Here we have an open world GTA: Vice City clone with attitude. Jak II received a lot of criticism for steering away from the cheery tone of the first game. Jak now talks but has a bad attitude, he shoots guns, and the game has more spunk and adult content. It was a great step for the series but it created more problems than the first game had.
The first thing is the crappy open world. I can’t tell you how tedious and frustrating it is to move around in this damn city. It’s a maze for one with tight linear areas to move around and the vehicles control like complete garbage. You bump into everything as you’re driving around, and if the game itself isn’t hard enough I died multiple times just trying to get to a mission. I have never seen such a poorly built open city before, this takes the cake. If the vehicles aren’t enough the difficulty of the game is by far way up there with the hardest. I guarantee 95% of players will quit before they even get 5 missions in. You will die time and time again, but not only because it’s just hard. The game is just poorly designed.
Take into account no lock-on for aiming whatsoever. You’re left with poor auto-aim which doesn’t work half the time. Add on glitches, sloppy platforming, and a crappy hoverboard and you have a craptastic game. Now that’s not to say Jak II didn’t have potential. It has an AAA budget written all over it. Excellent voice acting, great graphics, the works. It just seems the development team wasn’t up to speed on how smooth a game needs to play.
Even with the poor gameplay elements aside the game seems like it wasn’t playtested. Some areas are so difficult to get through, this usually includes the mass amounts of enemies you have to shoot, that you literally need to rely on luck that the AI will miss more than hit just so you can pass on. But the one ultimate reason that this game cannot be forgiven is the lack of checkpoints. I don’t just mean there’s one or two poorly placed. I mean there are none; zero. You will get halfway through a mission and die and restart over and over again at the beginning. This is just absurd and completely unfair. If the game had fair checkpoints I could overlook everything else, but that one major issue nearly ruins the game.
I also don’t like how long this game is. With the difficulty and poor mechanics in place you just want it to end. Be it the hair-tearing racing missions, hoverboard missions, or the nearly unbeatable timed missions. I don’t think I can remember a game harder than maybe Demons’ Souls, but that game was at least understandable as to why it was hard. It was meant to be that way. Jak II is not.
I really wanted to love this game but I just can’t. Even with the somewhat interesting Saturday morning cartoon-type story I just hated this game. I will never play it again and wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to sit through this. Jak II has a great AAA feel, but a low-budget bargain bin gameplay aesthetic. The game also looks good on the Vita, but like Jak and Daxter, the frame rate drops to single digits quite often and chugs. Either the game is pushing the Vita too hard or it’s just poorly optimized. Even without that issue, the game is just terrible.