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’ »
Posts Tagged ‘Retroview’
Strip away the sci-fi veneer of futuristic settings and you’ll often find traditional stories buried underneath. Ion Storm’s Anachronox is little different, building its planet-hopping adventure on the back of a washed-up detective story set in a weird, wild future. Burdened by buggy gameplay that had problems when it was released, it nonetheless stands out even amongst modern titles. With skilled story direction and a few unique twists on the formula, Anachronox boasts more character and ingenuity in the first hour than most entire games manage. It’s just a shame the game insists on getting in the way. Continue reading ‘Anachronox – Staff Retroview’ »
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’ »
In a period when many developers shy away from trying new things and instead hold to tried and true formulas for RPGs, games that wander off the beaten path are few and far between. Odin Sphere is one of these few. The game suffers from significant slowdown in some areas and a less than original battle system, but it also offers gorgeous graphics and a deep, memorable storyline. It’s a game that’s taken chances, and most of these pay off to create a game that, though not without rough edges, is a breath of fresh air in the genre. Continue reading ‘Odin Sphere – Staff Retroview #2’ »
Widely considered the crown jewel of the Castlevania series and a classic of gaming, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night took what had been a very traditional side-scrolling platformer series, shifted the gameplay focus to exploration, and infused it with RPG mechanics. Symphony of the Night was a significant change to the series, moving it towards more RPG-influenced gameplay, a trend which has increased as the series has gone on. Time has not been particularly kind to this game, as later entries in the series eclipse it in terms of having deeper gameplay and plot, but with such fluid animation and a wonderful soundtrack, the game still has something to offer the modern gamer. Continue reading ‘Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – Staff Retroview’ »
The Fire Emblem series makes its triumphant return to consoles with the only entry to grace the GameCube, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. The tried-and-true mechanics return with a whole new race of characters to make one of the best RPG experiences to ever grace the console. Continue reading ‘Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance – Staff Retroview’ »
Fire Emblem is among the longest-running RPG series today, and though each new game brings a new plot and characters, each one holds on to nearly the same mechanics. In Fire Emblem, it is a given that if characters die, they are out of the game. Permanently. One can also count on the fact swords beat axes; axes beat lances; and lances beat swords. And, interestingly enough, all weapons will break if used a set number of times. These are truths remain constant and set up the basis for Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones. Continue reading ‘Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones – Staff Retroview’ »
With six games to its name in North America (five regular games and one spinoff: Suikoden Tactics), the Suikoden series had been a staple of the RPG genre — if a bit of a dark horse. Suikoden V is a solid addition to the series as well as a great place for players who’ve never tried the series to get their feet wet. And while the game may not appeal to those interested in a highly complex battle system, Suikoden V is an absolute gem for story gamers, and offers memorable characters, a rich plot and a chance to experience a conflict that moves beyond the typical black and white save-the-world plot of many an RPG. Continue reading ‘Suikoden V – Staff Retroview’ »
Skies of Arcadia, a game originally released for Sega’s ill-fated Dreamcast system, found new purchase late in life with a port to the Gamecube. With a handful of new additions and a slight upgrade in graphics, a game that had been lauded as one of the finest on its original system became available to a new audience. On the whole, Skies of Arcadia Legends hasn’t aged particularly well, as ideas and story elements that were unoriginal even during its original release have slid into deep cliché. The combat system has fared a little better, though the lack of any real challenge to the game doesn’t help. In the end, Skies of Arcadia Legends is a reasonably solid, highly traditional turn-based RPG, but the lack of any real originality counts very strongly against it. Continue reading ‘Skies of Arcadia Legends – Staff Retroview’ »
The Tales series has a long and venerable history of avoiding North America, much to the consternation of its fans. In fact, pretty much all of the regions outside of Japan tend to get left out of most things the series offers beyond the flagship titles. And so Tales of Eternia for the PSP is a bit of an odd bird. Despite the fact that we’ve seen the game on this side of the pond before on the PSOne, Namco saw fit to release this PSP port in Europe and Asia, but not North America. Thankfully, the PSP’s lack of regional lockouts means that denizens of the Western Hemisphere have access to the game as well. Overall, Tales of Eternia is a decent port and a solid game overall, although a lack of polish and original content prevent it from being a standout title. Continue reading ‘Tales of Eternia – Staff Retroview’ »
“Bigger and mostly better” is one way to describe Oblivion, the fourth installment in the Elder Scrolls series. An ambitious and engagingly epic fantasy RPG, Oblivion improves on many of the problems its predecessors faced. The series’ hallmarks have always been big, sprawling worlds chock full of things to do and rich in detail, with the main plot almost as a side point to the adventures you have along the way. Oblivion capably carries this torch, and admirably gives its plot a stronger focus than that of Morrowind, the previous game in the series. For fans of the series it may be hard to shake the feeling that something’s been lost, but Oblivion does possess undeniable improvements to the gameplay that should appeal to newcomers and veterans alike. Continue reading ‘The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Staff Retroview’ »
Coming in on the heels of the popular Fallout RPGs, Fallout: Tactics was bound to confuse more than a few fans with its radical departure in gameplay and story. As a squad-based strategy game, Tactics feels closer to titles like Silent Storm or X-Com than its role-playing ancestors, with the Fallout license as essentially a coat of paint. Though it has its share of problems, and suffers simply by virtue of not being Fallout 3, Tactics is nonetheless a competent strategy game with an uncommon amount of content and depth. Continue reading ‘Blurring the Line: Fallout: Tactics – Staff Review’ »
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is a game of gale-force winds and wide open oceans. It strays from the conventional setting of the Zelda series, but it retains the tradition of engaging puzzles and exploration that make the series enjoyable. This focus on convention isn’t all positive, however, as Wind Waker has a number of problems which are fairly commonplace to the series. It inherits inexact control and a distinct lack of originality from its brethren, as well as a few issues that are unique to this entry. The biggest of this latter category, and possibly the game’s biggest issue overall, is the boredom of sailing long distances over seemingly endless stretches of water in order to move from island to island. In the end, Wind Waker is a game that will probably appeal most to people who can get past the idea that Wind Waker isn’t a ground breaking or revolutionary entry in the series. Continue reading ‘Blurring the Line: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker’ »
Last week I finally picked up Mega Man X: Command Mission (hereafter referred to as XCM) again after quite a long hiatus from the game. The last time, I’d gotten about halfway through and ran into a boss that quite literally could kick my collective Reploid butts four times over. I restarted it due to losing the story after so much time, still not sure if I could enjoy it enough to make it all the way through. Continue reading ‘Mega Man X: Command Mission – Staff Review’ »
It’s difficult enough for a video game to tackle the second World War without seeming stale and cliche; to remind us we’ve landed at Omaha beach before, and in better games. Compound that with the typical problems of an expansion pack – that they tend to retread the same ideas in the same engine featuring the same story – and you’ve got every reason to believe that Nival’s add-on to their sleeper hit Silent Storm is going to be underwhelming. Against all odds, however, Silent Storm: Sentinels is bolstered by the strong gameplay of its predecessor and brings enough new ideas to the table to keep the formula fresh – or at least from becoming too stale. Continue reading ‘Blurring the Line: Silent Storm: Sentinels’ »
It’s fairly common for video game enthusiasts to have dreams about whichever game they are currently playing. Sometimes aspects of real life will become blended with the game inside the dream. Some people may even have nightmares in which they are trapped within the game.
Continue reading ‘Final Fantasy Tactics Advance – Staff Review’ »
The Role-Playing genre is rife with fantasy settings and medieval landscapes tailor-made for big, epic adventures. Less common are science-fiction tropes and plotlines, from space travel to grim, dystopian futures. But rarest of all are settings that explore the common ground between the two, that take a setting from one and inject a healthy dose of the other. Enter Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Troika’s sprawling, open-ended RPG that stakes a claim in just such a setting, taking swords and sorcery and meshing it with steam engines and gunpowder.
In popular culture, portrayals of vampires as protagonists tend to swing towards the tragic. The dark, brooding anti-hero with the mysterious past and a serious case of ennui tends to be par for the course, but with Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines, the tragedy has less to do with the characters in its story than it does with the criminal lack of stability in its code. Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines is a game with some serious, serious issues, the worst of which will prevent a player from finishing the game, or even playing it at all. And this is a sad thing, because under the layers of bugs and seemingly unfinished sub-sections of the game, there is an unusually open, fairly well designed RPG to be played. Bloodlines has an interesting cast of characters, some solid voice acting, and a sense of atmosphere that, while somewhat cliché, still manages a few moments of genuine creepiness. Continue reading ‘Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines – Staff Review’ »
World War II games are a dime a dozen these days, so normally it takes a unique hook or extremely skillful presentation to set a game apart from the pack. Silent Storm, a strategy RPG by Nival Interactive, has the good sense to try for both, and fortunately it usually succeeds. It is a game brought low by technical issues and a threadbare plot, but elevated to almost epic status by fantastic gameplay and almost unprecedented tactical depth. Continue reading ‘Blurring the Line: Silent Storm’ »
Let us take a long look at an oft-mentioned classic, the FPS/RPG hybrid that would inspire the recent hit Bioshock, and the not-so-recent hit Deus Ex.