Archive for the ‘Action RPG Reviews’ Category.

Deus Ex: The Nameless Mod – Staff Review, Kind Of

The otherwise clear line between fanmade product and professional creation tends to get fuzzier as people take the project more seriously.  Take The Nameless Mod, a massive and ambitious mod for Deus Ex built by fans, for fans, and about fans.  The fandom itself is the world of TNM, and as silly as it sounds the concept is played amazingly straight, yet done surprisingly well.  Even if you peel back the internet setting and nested conspiracies, you’ll still find a well-built campaign at the core, as deep and replayable as Deus Ex at its best. Continue reading ‘Deus Ex: The Nameless Mod – Staff Review, Kind Of’ »

Fallout New Vegas (PC) – Staff Review #2

Man, where to even begin?  Let’s start with big.  Fallout New Vegas is mind-bogglingly big, easily outpacing Fallout 3 in terms of content.  With the hard work of engine development out of the way, Obsidian was free to expand on the template Bethesda provided; a long-awaited homecoming for many of the original Fallout developers.  The team clearly didn’t hold back, and there’s enough game here to overwhelm even the most industrious player.  While the results aren’t quite perfect, New Vegas is a clear improvement in most respects and easily one of the best RPGs this year. Continue reading ‘Fallout New Vegas (PC) – Staff Review #2’ »

Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines – Staff Review

One part tabletop RPG, one part multiple strains of vampire fiction, and three parts of that special Troika blend of high-ambition but low-stability programming; that’s Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines in a nutshell.  A serviceable first-person RPG, Bloodlines is also a newbie’s field guide to the World of Darkness and its modern-day undead secret societies.  How well the game works depends largely on how well you can tolerate subpar coding and questionable design choices, yet buried under the usual PC RPG mess is a versatile story and a cast of memorable, well-acted characters. Continue reading ‘Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines – Staff Review’ »

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Staff Review

Castlevania is one of today’s oldest and most iconic gaming series, with its roots tracing all the way back to the NES. Back in those days, it was a platformer famous for its tricky jumps fraught with traps that usually resulted in an untimely death. With the PlayStation came Symphony of the Night, a game that expanded upon the basic gameplay of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest and incorporated the exploration of the Metroid series to create a very long running and well-liked RPG series. With the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation 2, the series went 3D, and those games are largely considered disastrous by all but the most hardcore fans. With Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the series tries to merge all three styles of gameplay into a cohesive game, and it largely succeeds, albeit not without copying a few other games along the way. Continue reading ‘Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Staff Review’ »

Fallout 3 – Staff Review #2

The controversial successor to a short yet venerable gaming dynasty, Fallout 3 generated a lot of backlash amongst older fans. Frankly, there’s a lot of wiggle room as to whether or not Fallout 3 constitutes a worthy sequel (whatever that means) to the Fallout series. The combat system has been changed from an almost tactical turn-based affair to a first person shooter with a sort-of-kind-of turn based option, and the mainline plot is very inflexible, both aspects previously considered hallmarks of the series. However, by not relying too heavily on established conventions, Fallout 3 pushes itself further towards being a stand-alone title, which allows it far more creative freedom. Continue reading ‘Fallout 3 – Staff Review #2’ »

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon – Staff Review

In the world of gaming, it’s fairly common for titles to focus far too much on abstract gameplay concepts and not enough on setting the stage. So often, fighting legendary monsters feels absolutely nothing like being in a fantasy world, as players are simply too aware of the multitude of systems that surround the experience. Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is an odd reversal of this issue. It is supremely easy to get lost in the sheer beauty and tragedy of the crumbling world the game presents, only to have that illusion come crashing to the ground when asked to do something practical, like press a switch. Continue reading ‘Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon – Staff Review’ »

Fallout: New Vegas – Staff Review

Taking place in the ruins and area surrounding Las Vegas this time, the aptly named Fallout: New Vegas gives players a bit of a different experience from Fallout 3 while still keeping the same Fallout charm. Continue reading ‘Fallout: New Vegas – Staff Review’ »

DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue – Snowy Mountain Dungeon DLC Review

DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue‘s Snowy Mountain Dungeon DLC adds, as one might expect, a dungeon with a snowy mountain theme. Continue reading ‘DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue – Snowy Mountain Dungeon DLC Review’ »

DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue – Staff Review

Having moved from a fantasy to a more modern era, DeathSpank will find a number of new challenges in DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue as he tracks down and battles with the other corrupt Thong bearers. Continue reading ‘DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue – Staff Review’ »

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep – Staff Review

If you had told me ten years ago that one of my most anticipated games of the year would be a Kingdom Hearts game, I’d say you were crazy.  This world is full of many ridiculous things, but a collaboration between Squaresoft and Disney?!  That was possibly the silliest thing I’d ever heard of.  And my wife wanted it.  After watching her play for a bit, I saw that the game had an intriguing story, and I quickly became immersed in the world of keyblades and Heartless.  Like so many other people, I was amazed at the complexity of the story, and I have eagerly waited for each subsequent game to mete out a little bit more of the lore that gets expanded upon with each new game.  Birth by Sleep takes us ten years before the original Kingdom Hearts, and it might just be the best game in the series yet. Continue reading ‘Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep – Staff Review’ »

Cladun: This is an RPG – Staff Review

Cladun: This is an RPG is a game with very clear goals. An action RPG dungeon crawler with an old-school aesthetic, Cladun is designed to be played in short bursts, and very little else. The game’s largest issues arise from the inconsistent application of these old-school elements and a certain lack of a consistent overarching theme to the game. Though Cladun’s combat system is a fairly basic, some might say rigid affair, its sub-systems are surprisingly complex, a fact which does cause some problems in a game meant to be played in small servings. Overall, Cladun is a solid game, but it never quite reaches the point at which it transcends the conventions and cliches that the story makes fun of. Continue reading ‘Cladun: This is an RPG – Staff Review’ »

Recettear – Staff Review

Back in November I reviewed Atelier Annie, a strange game that purported to be an RPG but was in fact a commerce simulation with some monsters popping up from time to time. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but felt there were a couple aspects missing… aspects which would’ve made the game even better. Chief among these were a more robust RPG element (as the stripped-down turn-based system felt chalky and unfulfilling) and the ability to actually micromanage this storefront attached to your workshop.

Recettear is an indie game about micromanaging an item shop combined with a healthy dose of dungeon-crawling. Does it fill the void in my soul left by Annie and her handwaving economics? Before this game, I’d never even heard of the word “Affirmifications.” But it seems so fitting. Continue reading ‘Recettear – Staff Review’ »

Alpha Protocol – Staff Review

Choice is a popular gaming buzzword, typically code for “you can save the village or burn it down.” Rare is the game that gets a handle on the important part of choice, that being consequences; your actions mattering in the long run. Enter Alpha Protocol, Obsidian’s espionage-themed action RPG that boldly declares choice to be your weapon in the murky depths of modern geopolitics. Let’s make one thing very clear at the onset: there is something genuinely compelling about how the story here unfolds, and in that Obsidian has definitely succeeded where so many others failed. However, the cost appears to be a sense of identity, as if the game got so wrapped up in varying sources of spy fiction that it never really decided what it wanted to be. Continue reading ‘Alpha Protocol – Staff Review’ »

3D Dot Game Heroes – Staff Review

When I was a young boy in kindergarten, my parents bought me a brand new Nintendo Entertainment System. I used to sit in bed thinking about what games would look like in the future. I imagined that games would take your picture, and instead of Mario’s head, you’d see your own. With games like the arcade version of Mario Kart, that became a reality. I also thought that games would be in 3D, but at the time, I couldn’t even imagine that today’s graphics would be such detailed models with hundreds or thousands of polygons. I envisioned pixels, stacked on top of one another building a world. As the years went by, I chalked that fantasy up to boyhood dreaming and to the silly thoughts of a five-year-old. Now with 3D Dot Game Heroes, I’ve found that I wasn’t the only one to have this idea.
Continue reading ‘3D Dot Game Heroes – Staff Review’ »

Divinity II: Ego Draconis – Staff Review

Dragon Slayers, Dragons, and Dragon Knights are all key players in the battle for the world, with Damian as the vengeful antagonist. Divinity II: Ego Draconis‘s storyline follows a newly trained Dragon Slayer, though the process isn’t entirely complete and interrupted with the appearance of a Dragon Knight. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s plenty of questing and exploration on the side as well, and the life of a Dragon Slayer is unlikely to be dull. Continue reading ‘Divinity II: Ego Draconis – Staff Review’ »

Blurring the Line: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. – Call of Pripyat – Staff Review

The Zone is a harsh mistress, as all who’ve followed the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games can attest. GSC Game World’s adventure-heavy shooters borrowed from both the real Exclusion Zone and works of related science fiction to present a unique, beautiful, and deadly environment. The games featured their own hazards to the player: technical instability, a steep difficulty curve, and unforgiving gunplay. With Call of Pripyat, however, GSC has pulled off the impossible and delivered a stable, well balanced, and surprisingly complete entry into the series. Though still far short of perfection, Pripyat‘s take on the Zone is fascinating and rewarding in ways that few other games are. Continue reading ‘Blurring the Line: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. – Call of Pripyat – Staff Review’ »

Borderlands – Staff Review

Borderlands presents an interesting mash up of First-Person Shooter and RPG elements, which eventually come together to produce a unique sort of combat system with a lot to offer. Unfortunately, a clunky interface, flatlined plot, and a certain monotony when it comes to environments drag the game down significantly, becoming glaring issues towards the end of the game. On the whole, Borderlands is a solidly built game, and it works well for gamers looking for something a little bit different, but it’s not a particularly compelling or amazing title. Continue reading ‘Borderlands – Staff Review’ »

Blurring the Line: Bioshock 2 – Staff Review

If you played it to completion, the safe money says you’re not forgetting Bioshock anytime soon. 2K’s recent entry into the hybrid role-playing/shooter genre is sometimes a victim of its own hype, but it never lacks for imagination and proves a fun, engaging journey all the same. Bioshock 2 brings us back to the crumbling city of Rapture, evolving the gameplay in all the right places. Sadly, the plot never quite has the legs to stand on its own, and it seems to keep forgetting that the story of Rapture – and its extremist founder Andrew Ryan – is the more interesting one. Continue reading ‘Blurring the Line: Bioshock 2 – Staff Review’ »

Mass Effect 2 (PC) – Staff Review

Say what you will about Bioware, but they take no task lightly. By any measure Mass Effect was an epic affair, and topping that in a believable fashion – while integrating the characters and choices that made the first game meaningful – must have posed nearly countless problems for the team. To say they pulled it off is a gross understatement; Mass Effect 2 is a vast improvement over its predecessor in nearly every respect and a superb middle chapter in the series. Continue reading ‘Mass Effect 2 (PC) – Staff Review’ »

Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360) – Staff Review

As far as games go, a sequel is simply the second game in a series. A good sequel properly follows up the first game’s events. A great sequel takes the good in the previous game and builds on it while improving or eliminating the bad. By this measure, Mass Effect 2 is definitely a great sequel.

Continue reading ‘Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360) – Staff Review’ »