Archive for Review

Gears of War Review

Gears_of_WarGame Name: Gears of War
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Epic Games
Platform: PC / XBox 360

What I liked about it:

A few weeks ago, my roommate and I played through the first Gears of War, and I must say, it was a night full of fun! While I was testing at Microsoft a few summers ago, a friend of mine was testing Gears of War 2. At the time, I had no clue that Gears of War was so much fun!

Gears of War has a very interesting and fluid cover system. The Gears of War team used context sensitive input to make the space bar perform different actions depending on what’s going on around you. Usually this is done poorly, so when you mean to perform one action, another action happens instead. In Gears of War however, I would say it did what I wanted about 95% of the time.

Another thing that I thought this game did that I haven’t seen too much of, yet I really liked, was universal ammo crates. This probably isn’t quite what you think though. When you pick up one box of ammo, it gives you ammo for each of your weapons, but each weapon uses separate ammo. For example, one box of ammo might give +150 machine gun ammo, +20 pistol ammo, and +4 sniper ammo.

I very much enjoyed the bigger enemies in the game as well, even though most of them were taken down using a super gun called the Hammer of Dawn, which essentially called a huge satellite to attack your target. Some of these bigger enemies are boomers, berserkers, seeders, and brumaks.

I absolutely loved the quirky remarks made by the characters, both in the cutscenes and the ambient dialogue. If you ever make a game, try and add stuff like that to further immerse the player.

Finally, I felt that the difficulty curve of the game was done very well. The game was hard at some points, but not too hard. The final boss is actually pretty difficult until you get the rhythm down, which is perfect for a final boss. In fact, I haven’t seen a more fun final boss battle than this in a long time.

What could use some improvement:

Overall, the game had a great look and feel to it. That being said, individual portions of the level looked very similar, so I kept getting turned around, especially with the motion blur while running. Which reminds me, when you run, there’s a little bit of a blur effect. Over the course of the game, this made my eyes hurt quite a bit. The game could have done without that, even though it was a cool effect.

The game was a little buggy. I got stuck on walls about three times, and had one out of environment experience (Which was actually pretty cool, because I had a good view of a cool looking city from where I was). Lucky for me, when your teammate gets to a checkpoint, you get teleported there.

I wish that the story was explained a little bit more. There is a short cutscene if you stay idle at the main screen, but it doesn’t really explain that much. Once you start the game, it seems to assume that you know what a seeder is, or why you’re fighting against the Locust Horde.

All in all, I highly recommend playing through Gears of War, especially if you have a friend that can save you when the game glitches out.

League of Legends Review

1226004-league_of_legends_largeGame Name: League of Legends
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Riot Games
Platform: PC
Cost: FREE!!!
Website: http://www.leagueoflegends.com/

Ever played the Warcraft 3 mod DotA (Defense of the Ancients)? Who hasn’t? Well if you liked DotA even a minuscule amount, you should definitely think of giving League of Legends a try.

So what’s League of Legends like? Picture this: Take all the good parts of DotA, improve upon them, and throw all the bad parts away. That’s League of Legends in a nutshell. Essentially it’s the same thing as DotA, with different heroes and abilities, but better made.

I played DotA back when it was a little bitty baby (When the frozen throne meant a toilet in Alaska), and I absolutely loved it! However, once they started making DotA for Warcraft III’s expansion, The Frozen Throne, I lost interest in it. They packed the game with too many heroes and way too many item combinations.

League of Legends has a good number of heroes and came up with a great way to take care of complicated combinations. Essentially what they did is make a tree out of the items that you need to make the bigger items, with the biggest item at the root, or top of the tree. They made the interface simple, and that really helps in a fast paced game like League of Legends. Plus, it has a cool acronym, LoL.

Dragon Age: Origins Review (Spoilers?)

dragonageBoxGame Name: Dragon Age: Origins
Publisher: Electronic Arts (EA)
Developer: BioWare
Platform: PC

What I liked about it:

  • To be honest, when I first thought about playing this game, I really didn’t think I would like the “choose your own dialogue” / story-based type of game. Once I got going however, I found it to be quite enjoyable.
  • Some of the quirky character dialogue (Both while walking around and during the one on one talks) was quite enjoyable. There was one point where Morigan said something to Sten that sounded like she was into him, and he responded with something like “First you need more armor, and some weapons. I like to snuggle sometimes, so you’ll need an iron bar to pry me away. Make sure to heat it up nice and hot, or I might just ignore it.” It was hilarious! I especially love Zevran!
  • I LOVE the 300-esc slow motion “cutscenes” when a big monster dies and one of your party members kills them in a cool way.
  • My favorite part of this game was that at the end, your whole entire party (Not just 4 members) fights all at once. I thought this was such a cool idea, and it really made that battle epic.

What could use some improvement:

  • Even though I said that I liked the dialogue, I found myself skipping it towards the end just to beat the game. I guess the game droned on a little bit too long for my liking.
  • Throughout the game, I felt that there really wasn’t enough equipment upgrading. I found myself always checking to see if new armor was better, only to find that the only thing the new stuff was good for was making a few sovereign. Players like to upgrade, it gives them a sense of accomplishment. If you “reward” them with equipment that’s worse than the stuff they’re already wearing, it’s not much of a reward now is it? It would be like rewarding a child that already has a cookie with a stalk of broccoli.
  • In my opinion, this game needs quite a bit more epic boss battles. I was only impressed by two battles – The dragon before the Urn of Sacred Ashes, and the final boss battle. Even the Broodmother was pretty weak. Why couldn’t there have been anything epic like this in the game:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iFrHRaH0Os
  • Why in the world would they make spells do friendly fire damage? That is just ridiculous! I understand that this game gets its roots from D & D, but when the only good spells are AoE spells, it’s not fun to have to move your party out of them before you cast.
  • The ending is pretty anticlimactic. I mean, sure, as I said, the final boss battle is pretty epic, but after that, the game pretty much just ends. The Darkspawn are defeated, shouldn’t everyone rejoice and party or something?
  • This one is for “choose your own dialogue” games in general. I hate it when the game gives you a choice of good and evil, but in the end, you’re forced to do good. What I mean is, while you’re given a choice, you are inevitably trying to save the world anyway, making you a good person.
  • Um… can I get multiple bars for my skills please? Come on devs, it’s not that hard! Add a few variables and voila! With as many spells as the game has, how could they not think of this?!
  • Finally, I know this was meant to be a story-based single player game, but it would have been pretty awesome if there was a multiplayer.

LoZ: Spirit Tracks Final Boss – The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly Part 3 (SPOILERS!)

Phase 5 – Finish Him!: The final part to this boss battle is what I actually thought the battle would be like. This part is more like the LoZ: OoT final Ganon fight. Zelda is on the sidelines while Link fights (Or rather distracts) the Ganon-like boss. You control both Link and Zelda, but the only thing Zelda can do is shoot an arrow of light, which you’re supposed to do when the boss is facing away from her. This fight, while not original at all, was actually quite fun, and, as I mentioned, was what I was expecting out of this last boss fight.

All in all, the last boss fight could have certainly be cut down to just the train (Phase 1) and Ganon-like (Phase 5) fights. Sure, it was a great way to show off Nintendo’s mechanics, but does that really make a good boss fight? Sorry, but no. Fun factor is far more important than showing off mechanics. Sometimes, less can be more.

So what could Nintendo have done to make this boss fight better? For starters, as I already said, they could have shortened it to the two best parts of the boss fight (Phases 1 and 5). Instead of this, if they wanted to keep the parts in that they did have, they could have simply switched the D-Pad and stylus functionality. The D-Pad could have been used for movement, as it always has been, and for the stylus, they could have added a small icon on the bottom screen that functioned as the shortcuts to different menus (What the D-Pad functionality is currently). They would also have to make a button (Or stylus icon) to charge up or use a spin attack for the fireball fight as well. Sure, it’s not new, but it’s more fun, which is what’s important. Doing this would have made movement and attacking different buttons, and would have solved some of the problems that I mentioned with the fights. They could have even made the movement and attack style toggleable. Furthermore, I believe that the song part (Phase 4) should have been taken out altogether.

So there you have it, my first review ever, which covered the final boss fight of The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks! I hope you found it informative. Next time I’ll try to review a game as a whole, and as such, I won’t have to explain so much.

LoZ: Spirit Tracks Final Boss – The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly Part 2 (SPOILERS!)

Following my previous post, here are two more phases of this fight. There will be one more part to this review (It’s a long fight), so hang in there:

Phase 3 – You Tryin’ to get Invited to my Next Barbecue?: In this phase, the main boss appears – essentially a blue version of the real form of Ganon from LoZ: Ocarina of Time, but without the two large swords. He stands north of you and fires balls of fire in a pattern down at Zelda, who is charging something or other at the bottom of the screen. If Zelda gets hit, the boss starts his pattern over again. The problem with this fight is similar to Phase 2 – movement and attack are the same “buttons.” As such, when you have to perform two spin attacks in a row to stop two shots of four boulders (When one spin attack is hard enough to time perfectly to hit all four of them), this fight gets pretty hard, only due to the controls. Now I have to be honest, you pretty much cannot lose this fight, because Zelda has no health, the fireballs drop hearts, and the boss never moves towards you, but it got so repetitive that I nearly gave up. The only hard wave to stop is when he does two sets of four fireballs, but that one is pretty much impossible due to the controls.

Phase 4 – Guitar Hero Hyrule Tour: Throughout the game, you have to play these Locomo Songs to get past certain parts. Most of them have a practice option that will help you get the beat of what you’re supposed to play. In this section of the final boss battle, you have to play a song (Pretty lame, right?) to charge up Zelda’s power (Or something like that). However, this section has no practice or anything like that, leaving you to pretty much guess how your part is supposed to go. Furthermore, the “blow into the mic” mechanic is quite broken, often not recording when you want it to, or recording even though you’re done blowing. As such, this part was a pain. So, while it’s super easy for a percussionist like me to get the beat down, and a gamer like me to know what I’m supposed to do, actually doing what the game wants isn’t so easy.

The final phase of this long fight will come later.

LoZ: Spirit Tracks Final Boss – The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly Part 1 (SPOILERS!)

My first of many (Hopefully) game reviews will come in parts, because I feel that it is too big to swallow in one post. Here we go:

Game Name: The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo DS

I would usually start off a review with what I loved about the game, and then go on to what I would change (Kind of a “Get them to like you first, then tell them what you really thought” type of approach), but seeing as I’m just doing the final boss battle instead of the whole game, I feel it will flow better if I do it in chronological order, especially seeing as I will be doing it in parts.

Phase 1 – The ‘Cole Train’ Always Runs on Time!: The first phase of the last boss fight takes place with you in your train, and the enemy train driving next to you (Or on top of you, if you’re not so good). The objective is to defeat the different compartments of the enemy train, which just involves firing at the train when a weak point is exposed. This fight was actually pretty good. They could have done far more boring things with it, so good job Nintendo!

Phase 2 – IMMA CHARGIN’ MAH LAZER!: In this fight, you and Zelda (In her phantom armor suit) are fighting atop the enemy train. One major enemy is floating slightly north of you and sends small enemies that path towards Zelda. If they reach her (Because you didn’t attack them), she gets stunned, and he takes over her suit with strings (Like a marionette) and starts attacking you with the suit. When he’s doing this, you have to attack the strings (By getting around Zelda, or with the boomerang) to release his hold on Zelda. There is another enemy way north of you that fires a laser beam at you if you go too far north of the aforementioned baddie. The goal of the fight is to use Zelda as a shield and get to the very top (Baddie #2). Sounds easy, right? Wrong, but for only one reason: Moving Zelda, controlling the boomerang, Link’s movement, and attacking all use the same “button” – the stylus.

Here’s how most of the fight went for me: I see a small enemy heading towards Zelda. They start out decently close, and don’t more particularly slow. There are also multiple enemies sent out within a small period of time. Naturally, I try to attack said enemy, but I either move Zelda, miss the enemy because I attacked in the wrong direction, accidentally move towards the enemy and get hit instead, or anything EXCEPT what I want it to do. This makes Zelda get taken over by baddie #1. Before I knew I could use the boomerang to break this hold, I kept juking Zelda (Trying to hit the marionette cords with my sword), only to be shot by the laser beams, and hit by the possessed Zelda. Double punishment isn’t cool Nintendo. Anyway, that part was frustrating, but what happens next? Find out next time!