The Ninja Gaiden series is very beloved to longtime fans. The reboot for Xbox was considered one of the hardest games ever made at the time and required extremely precise skill. Yaiba is a spin-off of the series and takes a kind of comical take on it. This isn’t exactly good. Taking the helm is a studio notorious for terrible games like Legendary. That game was considered the worst game made that year. Spark Unlimited has a lot to live up to and I’ll cut this short: they don’t live up to it.
The Z stands for zombies. Yes, and you don’t even play as Ryu Hayabusa. In fact, you play as someone he’s killed who gets a robotic arm and wants to seek revenge. He’s accompanied by a busty hot intelligence woman who relays your objectives to you. The story is pretty throw away, but Ninja Gaiden is known for fantastic combat. Yaiba has a good combat system, but the game relies on fighting way too much and doesn’t break up the monotony.
A weak, powerful, and flail attack are all available. The fighting is lightning fast, but sometimes way too fast. Zombies are represented by comedic puns and act just as stupid. Life is acquired by performing a finishing move on a stunned zombie. The gore and finishing moves are cool but only the first 5 times. The rest of the game is made up of overly easy parkour that is performed with quick time events. The boss fights are slightly more interesting but not by much.
The combat gets hard in a sense that it feels unbalanced. Some enemies can disable your flail arm, sometimes too many are thrown on you, and there’s a really irritating knockback animation that can’t be interrupted. Occasionally the environment can be interacted with, but I honestly saw the same patterns on the second level. This game could have been so much more, but it turns out to be a frustrating unbalanced joke.
The graphics also take on a comic book style which is way different from the traditional Japanese art style seen in the other games in the series. They also look technically unimpressive with ugly low res textures. Most fans will be highly disappointed in a game bearing the Ninja Gaiden name and not be taking it seriously. Maybe a more talented developer could have done better, but what’s here is something that never should have been.
I never really heard of Ian Livingstone’s Fighting Fantasy novels. I just ran across this on Google Play one day and was instantly immersed. This is a text-based adventure with some RPG elements thrown in. Think of this as a pick-your-own-adventure with dice. Thankfully the game handles most of the tedious work for you like keeping track of items, stamina, and other stats. The story is really intriguing because of how mysterious the whole setting is. You play as a man who is captured and taken to some secluded castle. You later find out people are being turned into zombies to become part of some crazy guy’s personal army. These aren’t just regular zombies and are a bit smart as you will find out in the story.
When you get to a certain spot you can choose to go in different directions, however, some have consequences and rewards. I found that going into a bedroom scored me a few medkits, some items, and maybe a weapon. Some paths lead to dead ends and you have to restart at your last bookmark. This is very exciting and I couldn’t put the game down. There are a lot of key items in this game, probably too much, and is one fatal flaw the game has. I didn’t buy a steel pulley at the very beginning of the story and it was a key item I needed near the end and I had to restart the entire book, very tedious and frustrating. I even tried other paths, but they all led to this path.
When you run into zombies you have to fight. You can either use your weapon or a grenade. You roll the dice and if you don’t like the roll you can shake the device until you get the roll you want. Some may consider this cheating, but if this feature wasn’t here you would restart constantly. Some fights required a certain number or higher to defeat the enemy, some scenes require you to roll to determine whether you survive said event. This is also exciting and makes things tense. However, there is one main issue that almost completely ruins the game. You have to kill ALL the zombies in order to finish the story. I got to the very end and it said I didn’t kill them all and my adventure is over. Huge bummer and I felt like the book was a waste of time. I went back through again and just couldn’t figure out how to kill them all. This was a huge mistake on the author’s part.
Other than that the story is great, but I wish there were more characters. The art is excellent and the dice rolling gameplay is exciting and can get tense. I did find the music to repeat through the whole book and get annoying. I will check out more Fighting Fantasy novels and hopefully, I don’t run into an issue where I can’t finish it.
Ever since the entertainment industry was born man has always loved to be scared. Despite our curiosity for death we loathe it every day yet we surround ourselves with it in an ironic twist. Dead Space 2 is just a dot on the timeline of horror and death in media, and we suck it up like candy. What makes Dead Space 2 quench our curiosity for horror, and pushing the human mind to its psychological limits? The story of Isaac Clarke aboard The Sprawl, and returning to the Ishimura, may hold the answers.
Isaac Clarke wakes up in a straight jacket and is being chased by Necromorphs once again. He has to destroy The Marker, but he doesn’t know how. His journey through The Sprawl is very dangerous and gut-wrenching, but I guarantee you’ll love it. The combat is pretty much the same but feels slightly tighter and a little more responsive this time around. De-limbing Necromorphs is as satisfying as ever and proves to be pretty scary and gruesome. You can now use your telekinesis module in combat such as throwing limbs and objects at enemies to kill them, but I rarely used this method.
There are a ton of weapons at your disposal but upgrading them all takes a couple of playthroughs since power nodes are harder to come by, and you really need to rely on buying them. The new weapon (there’s only one sadly) is the javelin gun which lets you launch spears at enemies and lets you impale them to walls. A secondary fire mode allows you to electrify the spear to shock nearby enemies or do extra damage. It seems a little overpowered but works well on larger enemies.
Speaking of new Necromorphs there are a few new great ones. The Stalkers are really great enemies because they hide and peek around corners and rush you. Using the force gun, or the javelin gun and using alt fire are great ways to stop these guys, or just planting mines. The Pack is screaming evil morphed children that rush you in well…packs. The force gun is the best way around these guys or the flamethrower. Another new enemy is Crawlers which are morphed infants that cry like babies and their bodies can explode. Using the force gun or flamethrower works great here too.
Despite the combat being the same, the pacing is great, and the atmosphere is extremely haunting especially during the first few chapters. The storytelling is deeper thanks to Isaac actually talking and interacting with characters. The ending is excellent, but the game runs out of steam after the first few chapters and just becomes a hallway grinding shooting fest. This isn’t to say that’s bad because the varied environments are nice to see, but I would have liked more scripted moments.
Some other key elements have changed such as zero gravity gameplay. Instead of jumping from fixed point-to-point you can move around freely now and the sections are much longer and more involved. Sometimes a whole half chapter will be in zero gravity and this includes being out in deep space. I really liked this change and is probably one of the biggest in the game.
I really feel as if the story mode was well planned out, but with the middle of the game being pretty straightforward, keeps the game from getting a higher score. The game is also a lot harder and is pretty much relentless in doling out enemies at you without stopping. You really need to stay on your toes this time around and strategy is key to figuring out which weapons work in which situations. So, with the first few chapters and last few being the best the rest of the game is just mainly atmosphere, but it’s paced well and that matters a lot.
The multiplayer suite is unusual but only addictive for a little while. This isn’t like Call of Duty or Halo where you’ll be coming back for dozens of hours at a time. It plays a lot like the single player where you blast away Necromorphs, but human players control those too and they keep respawning until the objectives are met. You can collect health packs, ammo, etc, but Necromorphs are pretty relentless. There are four types you can play as, and each has their own unique abilities. Ganging up on humans is the best strategy, but sometimes the whole ordeal feels unbalanced since this is a tricky way of doing multiplayer for a game that wasn’t designed for that. The multiplayer is thrilling after awhile, but once you play all the maps and classes for a few hours you’ll be done.
The visuals are slightly better than the first game but show their age a bit. There are some nice lighting effects, but the textures can look downright ugly in spots and the character models could use some cleaning up. The PC doesn’t really get any enhanced features except some anti-aliasing and slightly better lighting effects. This was a huge disappointment and could have taken advantage of the new DirectX 11 graphics infrastructure. As it is, you can run this game on a mid-range PC and it will barely break a sweat.
The Good: Captures the personality and atmosphere of the RE series, new setting is tense and dangerous, great ending
The Bad: Can feel a bit rushed in spots
I started this 7 book Resident Evil series before I even opened this site, so after the review for number 7 is up I will do a Final Thoughts to recap the first 4. This series is an original story by S.D. Perry. She takes the Resident Evil characters that we know, adds some new ones, and a few little twists of her own such as new monsters and Umbrella schemes. It is well done and feels almost better than what Capcom has going. These books were written in the late 90’s after Resident Evil 3 was released, so don’t expect anything from anything past that game.
Underworld sees The ex-S.T.A.R.S team consisting of Leon, Claire, Rebecca, and newcomers John and David. These two characters are introduced in the earlier books and are solid memorable characters. A mysterious man named Mr. Trent, who has been giving them clues to help shut down Umbrella, finally reveals himself fully, almost, to the team this time around. They want to go to Europe to help Chris and Jill, but he sends them on a different mission in Salt Lake City, Utah to retrieve a code book from a Mr. Reston. This little facility called “Planet” is part of White Umbrella’s division where they are testing new species out. The team heads there but a lot of things go wrong in this underground facility.
S.D. Perry does a good job of giving you multiple perspectives on the same situation. Leon and John are stuck in a series of tests that span four rooms throughout most of the book. You get their perspective, then she will cut to Reston’s perspective as he sees it all on the camera monitors. You get the insight from every major character and she does a good job chopping up the story and bringing it full circle at the end of the book. Each one is like this and it is highly entertaining, Perry fully utilizes the RE world and captures the characters we have grown to love while still making us hate Umbrella for their horrible experiments.
On the surface, Claire, Rebecca, and David are trying to find their way down, but are being intercepted by an Umbrella spook squad to wipe them out. Reston is a conniving coward and you grow to really hate this greasy slimeball. You get a perspective of the characters personalities that can’t shine through in a game, you basically get to know them more. Underworld is a fantastic book for RE fans, but I highly recommend you starting at book zero.
The Resident Evil franchise made a huge comeback with RE4, but Capcom has abused this style of RE like they do with all their other franchises. Resident Evil5 was already disappointing because it was too similar to RE4, RE6 takes it even further by making the game 100% action oriented, but trying to keep the survival horror elements of the last game. Either make it an action game or make it survival horror, you can’t make it both. There are so many things wrong with this game that I couldn’t even finish the second campaign.
The story is about the C-virus that is being used a terrorist attack, I honestly can’t tell you who did it or did I even hear Umbrella’s name once through half the game that I played. This C-virus allows the zombies to mutate when damaged. That’s great and all, but give me some freaking ammo to kill them with. This is the biggest issue with the game, there isn’t enough ammo. I had to constantly scrounge for ammo like past games, but they throw 10-15 enemies at you and this becomes frustrating. I never had my max capacity of ammo, I always had half a clip in each gun then running around meleeing enemies until they dropped some ammo. Oh good, 5 rounds for my shotgun, it takes more than that to take some enemies down, so it’s back to square one. I literally ran out of ammo at the wrong times and had to exploit the game to survive, that is not fun at all and is a broken game. Throwing three strong enemies at me plus a bunch of small ones with just two clips isn’t survival horror, that’s survival ammo.
If that isn’t enough, this game is meant to be played co-op only. The AI does a terrible job covering your back when you run out of ammo. They peck at the enemy here and there with a round or two and it can take over 10 minutes for the AI to take a large enemy down for you. I also found the quick time events poorly implemented and the animations for getting wounded are just awful and frustrating. Each character does this stupid drawn out animation that completely rips you from the game, when you get back up you get hit again, plays another long animation where you lose control, then again with another hit and your dead. This is so stupid and frustrating. Why rip the control away from me and play some stupid long animation that can’t be interrupted?
The boss fights are the most interesting in this game, but also the most repetitive. You will have to use the same strategy for every boss several times over instead of just two or three times before it is dead. The final boss for Leon’s campaign needed the same quick time event performed 10 times. That is extremely tedious and not fun at all. As you have seen me explain each character has their own 4-hour campaign that explains the story in busted up pieces. It makes no sense, the enemies are silly (why do these zombies have guns, parachute from helicopters, and drive tanks?) and the new characters are hardly likable. The story just didn’t make any sense, sure there were few shocking moments, but why trudge through these four campaigns for it? At this point, Resident Evil needs to go back to its roots and veer away from this action nonsense.
There are a few modes like Mercenaries where you can earn more skill points. The skill system is terrible as well because I beat one and a half campaigns and only had enough skill points to upgrade three skills. It takes so long to upgrade these skills, what happened to the weapon upgrade system? That was a lot more fun. The game doesn’t even feel like Resident Evil, but like an action game, it isn’t starring RE characters. Sometimes it felt like a setting from Gears of War, sometimes it felt like something from a generic sci-fi shooter. Lots of boring cement buildings, nothing interesting at all to look at. It doesn’t help that the graphics are awful saved for some nice lighting effects. The textures look like muddy stickers, and the game just gets boring and monotonous halfway through the first campaign.
Is this worth playing at all? Sure, in co-op only because the AI can’t cover you and is worthless. The quick time events are poorly implemented, the boss fights are fun yet repetitious, and the game is just boring to look at. It also doesn’t help that it never once felt like a Resident Evil game, and the constant scrounging for ammo is just stupid. If you are a hardcore fan stay way, if you are a newcomer stay away. Just go play RE4 or 5 one more time and wait for the next game.
The mobile game market is getting very strong thanks to new and powerful technology. This is the epicenter of indie game developers, and there are some amazing phone games out there. The best one is usually very innovative but doesn’t necessarily have to use phone features well. These were some of the best this year. This was a tough choice.
Organ Trail is a zombie remake of Oregon Trail from the early 90’s. What makes this game stand out so well is that it brings back those childhood memories look no other phone game this year. The game is intense, funny, fun, and just very well done. There were plenty of mobile games I enjoyed this year, but this one topped it all for me.
The 3DS had some awesome games this year so it was a tough choice. There were a surprising amount of solid third party games this year as well. The best 3DS game obviously has to use the new hardware well, but also be a solid game that doesn’t rely on gimmicks.
Revelations is not just a solid RE game, but the graphics are stunning for the console. The story is interesting and the 3D effects are fantastic. This won over for me because of how great of an experience it is. This isn’t just an RE console port, but a whole new experience that just rocks solid.
The best downloadable game goes to a game that you can only download via a service such as Xbox LIVE Arcade or Steam. Usually, this is download only with no disc-based version available. This category is slowly getting phased out because almost every PC game, and most console and handheld games, are becoming download only. This category usually only applies to downloadable console games, but PC ones get thrown in every so often.
The Walking Dead mainly gets the award because it is not only gripping and thrilling, but I anticipated every single episode throughout the entire year. Telltale really made people watch their calendar because they wanted the next piece of the story to this amazing adventure game. If you can make players chomping at the bit for an entire year for each episode, you were successful. The other games were great, but nothing captures the atmosphere and heart-wrenching tale of TWD.
What determines the best new character? Someone who is memorable not just in looks but personality. Usually, someone who strays away from stereotypes, someone who is ruthless, conniving, sarcastic, beautiful, or just downright cool. This year had some great new characters, but only one comes out at the top.
Vaas is a psychopath that is bi-polar and just doesn’t care about anyone or anything. His strange feelings toward Jason are what make you really love this character. His delivery and voice actor are just superb and Vaas is the only memorable character in the Far Cry series. We don’t have enough psychopaths in games, but ones that act human and can treat a fellow human being so poorly with such hate and feral feelings. Vaas is a character to be remembered.
This looks like the same thing as Best Graphics, Technical but it isn’t! I swear it is a coincidence! Best voice acting consists of professional actors that can carry across a personality and deliver the character so you believe it. There were many games this year that had great voice acting and I couldn’t slide them all in. Honorable mentions go to Max Payne 3, Mass Effect 3, Dishonored, Borderlands 2, and Halo 4. This was one of the toughest categories this year because of TOO many choices instead of not enough.
Hitman’s voice acting is so great because of the way the characters deliver it on screen. Each one is completely different from the other and they are all evil bastards that you want to punch in the face. The lip-synching is amazing and spot on and the facial expressions really bring out the voices. This was tough among many other games, my second choice was Assassin’s Creed III and Far Cry 3, but something about Absolution’s voice acting just sucks you into this experience.