Review – The Last Remnant

I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about The Last Remnant. On the one hand, its Akitoshi Kawazu pedigree shines through, with an incredibly nuanced battle system that never fully makes up for its terrible plot. On the other hand, that battle system is really very good and worth playing the game for on its own, it’s just that the plot was made even worse – seemingly deliberately – to balance things out.

Kawazu has a long history of working on the SaGa games, and it is entirely reasonable to call TLR a stealth entry in the series, since it has many of the hallmarks.… Read the rest

Portal 2 Review Part 2/2: The Negative Review

Any motion picture–such as 2001:A Space Odyssey; Demon Seed; Silent Running or Forbidden Planet–or Star Wars–in which the most identifiable, likeable characters are robots, is a film without people. And that is a film that’s shallow, that cannot uplift or enrich in any genuine sense, because it is a film without soul, without a core. It is merely a diversion, a cheap entertainment, a quick fix with sugar-water, intended to distract, divert and keep an audience from coming to grips with itself.” — Harlan Ellison

It is probably safe to say at this point that everyone loves Portal 2. Just look at Metacritic, just look at the sales charts, just look at what anyone, anywhere is saying about it.… Read the rest

Portal 2 Review Part 1/2: The Positive Review

The first Portal seemed so undeserving of its success. It was essentially a Half-Life 2 mod similar to Research And Development only with a new gameplay gimmick. The story was only added later in the playtesting phase because players were getting bored with room after room of puzzles. Since the developers didn’t have time to model and animate characters a disembodied voice was created from the same disembodied voice that appears in both Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2. The end result was barely marketed at all and distributed merely as a small bonus bundled with other “real” games. By all rights, Portal should have been enjoyed for what it was and forgotten afterwards, along with every other short puzzle game.… Read the rest

Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl Non-Review

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl has been a game I’ve declined to review. There are some things I’m just not comfortable casting judgment on. A review implies that the reviewer has authority over the game, an intellectual superiority. I can tell you what I think about Stalker, but Stalker is a complex game full of loose ends; it calls upon a creative power within its players to piece them together. What I think about it is constantly changing the more I play and the more I learn. Any review of the game will say much more about the reviewer than the game itself.… Read the rest

Review – AquaNox 2: Revelation

The bottom of the ocean is a lot like space–both are dark and mysterious, both require special equipment in order for us to survive, and both appear as a peaceful shade of blue from our viewpoint. There are, however, some sharp differences between them. No one really goes to space (at least not outside of Earth’s orbit), whereas many people spend lots of their time living underwater. One reason for this is the fact that there isn’t much of anything in space. Every single book, movie, or videogame set in space is forced to make up a bunch of stuff to fill its multi-light-year spanning void.

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Review – Burger Island

I recently [not recently – Ed.] spent a good portion of my Memorial Day weekend remembering our fallen soldiers by playing Burger Island with my daughter.

“Do you want a turn making milkshakes, daddy?” she asked in a cute manner.

“I will do it! I will do it for those that died at Normandy!” I cried.

And thus began my nightmarish decent into the maddening world of Burger Island.

Burger Island, I learned the hard way while simultaneously paying tribute to the ultimate sacrifice of others, is a lie.

The island in the title is not a gigantic delicious hamburger. It is not a Burger Island.… Read the rest

Review – League of Legends: Season One

Following many months of “live,” but not “ranked” gameplay, League of Legends, published by Riot Games, has gone pro, launching their competitive Season One. Featuring several ranked ladder modes: “solo” (actually solo or duo play) 5v5, full premade 5v5 and full premade 3v3, the ladders will culminate with tournament play and $100,000 of cash and prizes. Although Riot will not release simultaneous usage numbers, they have confirmed through various online sources they have over 3 million registered accounts. With the DOTA community estimated at 7-9 million players built over a decade, Riot should be proud of how quickly their game has caught on and distinguished itself in broad field of incumbents and competitors.… Read the rest

Review – Dragon Age: Origins

The machine slowly comes to life, the sound of whirring fans and arcane instruments powering up to a deafening howl. Then a blinding flash of incandescence, a painful sense of sudden detachment from where and when you were. Also all your clothes are apparently gone, unfortunately burnt away by the paradox. Uh-oh.

Yes, playing Dragon Age is like taking a trip back in time. Not back to the pseudo-historical-yet-entirely-fictional fantasy universe it is set in, because it never happened! I’m telling you, all that conspiracy theory stuff about William the Conqueror using dragons at Hastings is completely bogus. I was there, it never happened, no chance.… Read the rest

Armored Princess Review: Part III

When I initially conceived of the idea of writing episodic reviews I planned on concluding the series when I had also finished the game. Well I haven’t finished Armored Princess yet, but it’s also been almost two months since I posted part one of this review. I think the time has come to wrap this up. Actually it’s probably way past time. But better late than never I suppose.

Anyway, I spent part one and part two talking about different individual aspects of the game, so I’ll finish this by summarizing my feelings of the game as a whole.

THE REVIEW OF THE ARMORED PRINCESS
– Part III: The End is Another Beginning –

This is the kind of game that I enjoy playing for reasons completely unrelated to any of the gameplay or presentation that I’ve mentioned so far.… Read the rest

Review – Torchlight

Torchlight should be branded with a warning. The game is pornographic, it’s number porn and clicking porn with a Tolkienesque fantasy fetish thrown into the mix. After loading the game there is a brief introduction to set the scene, and immediately the player begins clicking madly on everything moving.

With each click the characters moan, scream, and produce other sounds juicy with stimulation. Of course it’s not the meaning of the sound they make, it’s the fact that each of these noises is calculated to be so brief and repetitious, fading in and out instantly and producing a peak at just the right tone.… Read the rest