We hope you’re all having a fun time tonight. We’re currently terrified by the sheer number of recent releases that we need to review, but that means more treats for all of you in the weeks to come! We’ll be extending our Halloween themed reviews into next week, so you can expect even more monster/costume/apocalyptic fun.
Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’
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’ »
Perhaps related to the success of Matrix Software’s DS remakes of Final Fantasy 3 and 4, Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light is a stand-alone Final Fantasy game deeply ingrained in the old school tradition. Unfortunately, the developer seems to have taken all the wrong lessons from the old school. Four Heroes of Light does push for overall simplicity of design, and that does capture something of the spirit of older RPGs, but it also features an obtuse interface, inconsistent difficulty, and direction so vague that it borders on the incomprehensible. Four Heroes of Light does do some things right — the class system is interesting, if a bit basic, and the game’s visuals are exceptional — but the game is unfriendly on a basic level and doesn’t offer the player much reward for getting past that. Continue reading ‘Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light – 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’ »
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’ »
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’ »
Happy Halloween! We’ll have Halloween-themed content all day~
Ok. I’ll level with you. I’ve just scrapped my fifth attempt at an opening to this review. I’ve tried food analogies, tomato discussion, references to Halloween (the holiday and the movie), Tim Burton films, Okami, Phantasy Star… So, nuts to that. Settle in, kiddies. It’s story time.
Once upon a time, there was a little DS RPG called A Witch’s Tale. Her parents, Nippon-Ichi and HitMaker, were very famous in their own rights; one was a premier name in RPGs and the other was once a member of the famous Sega family. Though her pedigree shone, she was scorned from birth, partially due to the failings of her elder brother, Dragoneer’s Aria. As the young girl of the family, no one wanted to mention her in the same breath as her half-siblings Disgaea and Crazy Taxi. Realizing that she would have to seek her own fortune, she set out to prove her detractors wrong.
Over a decade ago, Konami introduced a new look to the Castlevania series. Gone was the notion of lives and linear stages, and in their place was a giant castle to explore, twice in fact. The game was widely acclaimed, and soon others like it began to appear on Nintendo’s handheld systems. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is third game to appear on the DS and the seventh game in the genre, and with some interesting departures, it is the best so far. Continue reading ‘Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia – Staff Review’ »
Game companies usually don’t get do-overs. If there’s a bug or design flaw in a game, it stays there until the end of time. PC games often have the benefit of patches and mod communities, but these are after the fact and don’t always address the most glaring problems. Enter CD Projekt Red, developers of last year’s action RPG The Witcher; a promising but uneven title that, like many PC RPGs, felt like it needed a few more months in the oven. Determined not to let such potential fade into obscurity, CDPR rounded up the cast and crew, cleared their schedules, and took another stab at it with The Witcher: Enhanced Edition. The resulting package – free for download to those who already have the original – could show even crowd-pleasing stalwarts like Atlus a thing or two about keeping fans happy, and should be studied for years as an example of how real game fixes are done. Continue reading ‘The Witcher: Enhanced Edition – Staff Review’ »
One of the more unusual games to be released for the Game Boy Advance, Boktai: the Sun is in Your Hand is an action RPG that has players relying on the power of sunlight to defeat their vampiric foes. Although Boktai has a lot of charm in visual design and sound, its plot and certain aspects of its combat system fail to impress. Despite these flaws, Boktai is a strange bird with some unique ideas, something that deserves credit in any medium. Continue reading ‘Boktai: the Sun is in Your Hand – Staff Retroview’ »
Finding himself wandering around the streets of Shibuya, Neku notices that something is amiss. For starters, he receives an ominous email that he can’t delete. He doesn’t remember who he is, and none of the people in the crowded intersection seem aware of his presence. Not only that, he can read their thoughts using a strange pin he has with him. Strange invisible walls, cloaked figures, and weird monsters only add to the confusion. As much as he may dislike other people, he needs answers. Whether he likes it or not, he runs into another person in much the same situation he’s in, and she seems to have a better grasp on what’s going on. Continue reading ‘The World Ends with You – Staff Review #2’ »
After the many adventures that took place during The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Link is finally getting a chance to relax a little bit. Of course, this peace does not last long, and Zelda quickly finds trouble again. It’s up to Link to investigate the mysteries of the ghost ship and the ocean king in order to set things right. The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass is indeed a direct sequel to Wind Waker, though aside from one major spoiler, the story doesn’t carry over all that strongly, allowing newcomers to pick it up just fine. That said, there are some similarities in mechanics and world, many of which have been improved upon since the original, though this isn’t always the case. Continue reading ‘Blurring the Line: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass’ »
It’s Halloween (Week)! It’s time to break out the decorations, Halloween-theme reviews, and candy. Well, I guess we don’t really have a way of getting the candy to you, so we’ll just have to hold onto that. However! We can share the reviews with you. Anything with some kind of ghostly or dark theme is possible. Castlevania, Shin Megami Tensei, even Phantom Hourglass just to name a few…who knows what we’re going to post this week? We’ll be aiming for one review per day through Halloween night, so be sure to check back often.
Forget about a good chunk of what you’ve heard about Bioshock, the spiritual descendant of the System Shock games from the same people that made them (2K Boston, formerly Irrational/Looking Glass). Forget about what the box advertises and the developers promised, forget about entering a living world complicated by moral choices and topped with profound questions. Forget everything except the fact that it’s a great shooter with an interesting story and wonderful atmosphere, because that’s pretty much what you’re going to get. The final package is ultimately shallower than one might expect, but at the end of the day Bioshock is still a shooter worth the attention of anyone who likes a little intellect with their action. Continue reading ‘Blurring the Line: Bioshock’ »
Author’s Note: Due to some unpleasant wildfires in Derek’s part of the world, we’ve had to postpone some of the reviews that were going up this week. In the meantime, we have some Halloween treats for our readers, so stay tuned!
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner marks a bit of a new direction for the series, using a far more lighthearted tone and lighter level of difficulty to move it ever-so-slightly closer to mainstream RPGs. The game uses a story set in a recognizable period of history to present a unique and intriguing take on the series universe, but its new combat system, which exchanges the complexity of the Press Turn system for a simplistic real-time system, means that the game is somewhat less engaging than previous entries have been. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner works best when the disparate elements of detective story, alternate history, and mysticism come together, but the somewhat clumsily-applied combat system hampers the overall effect. In the end, those with an understanding of the history involved and an appreciation for the mythology intertwined with it will get the most out of Devil Summoner. Continue reading ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Staff Review’ »