Review – Kayne and Lynch

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men was, for lack of a better pun, dead on arrival in the minds of Internet savvy gamers, all thanks to the fiasco surrounding Jeff Gerstmann’s scathing review for Gamespot.com, and Eidos Interactive’s possible manipulation of the site.  That being said, if the controversy never occurred, I don’t imagine the game would have fared any better.  The signs of a troubled development process are all over the place, and the final product is a constant stream of highs and lows.

Where to start?  Visually, the background objects are gorgeous, but the foreground environments are criminally ugly.  The game often tries to hide this by placing levels in the dark, or by filling setpieces with several layers of tear gas smoke.… Read the rest

Alternate Take – Nier

Note: Some folks on Twitter asked me if I was going to write anything about Nier after finishing it.  I obliged, as I did find the game very interesting, but I want to point out that the game was already reviewed by Chris back in December.  The original review can be found here, and I recommend you read it first.  It covers some of the same ground, and  Chris has a much better handle on the genre than I do.

Nier is a bog standard action adventure game in which the lock and key puzzle system of modern Legend of Zelda releases is replaced with traditional jRPG time wasters (mainly sidequests and weapon upgrades). … 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

Review – Nier

The first thing you will hear when you start up Nier is swearing. Its intro, as with many other aspects of the game, may be an attempt to be unique. It also foreshadows (or is reminiscent of) a significant plot event. Either way, it’s certainly unusual. Much of the game seems like the intro sequence: it may be an attempt to be unique. It’s harsh and initially somewhat intriguing but each time through it loses a little bit of its charm. In the end, Nier seems to be saying something, but aside from a decent story filled with the requisite twists and turns, it’s impossible to really tell what.… 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

Review- John Woo’s Stranglehold

The more things change, the more they stay the same. For most of gaming’s history, licensed games have tended to be substandard releases, made on the cheap in order to cash in on the latest hot properties. This rule was so typical, for so many generations, that you could almost set it in stone. But the current generation has done a lot to improve the situation. Licensed games are often quite playable, and in some cases can be exemplary of their genre. This trend is due to several factors. Perhaps the most important are the tremendous costs of making a high definition game.… Read the rest

Review – Vandal Hearts: Flame of Judgment

Watching a beloved series re-emerge after years of lying dormant is always disconcerting. On the one hand, it’s nice to see developers expand on a world already well-fleshed out and attempt to recapture something that was thought lost forever. On the other hand, it may be worse to have a crappy sequel than to have no sequel at all. Worst of all would be a sequel that’s good enough to look promising and manages to recreate many of the best elements of the series, but ends up being mediocre and only dulls the series in the fans’ eyes. The last, unfortunately, is the case with Vandal Hearts: Flame of Judgment, a western-developed entry in Konami’s strategy RPG series.… Read the rest

Review – King of Fighters XII

The King of Fighters XII has been out for close to four months. I have had it since day one. I apologize for the delay, but I finally came to terms with why it took me so long. KOF XII is not a good game, and my old review tried to hide it by going over every detail and feature while ignoring the big picture. And the big picture is not pretty.

Here’s the problem – SNK had a vision, one that involved taking this franchise in a slightly new direction. Tag battles, quicker combat, and a new story and new characters were all in the cards.… Read the rest

Review – The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, was not simply good relative to other licensed games. It is one of the best games in its genre, both upon release and to this very day. People with no interest in the genre have picked it up and had a blast. Shooter fans were stunned that something that looked so derivative on the surface could be so engaging. While it might not have been quite the miracle that Goldeneye was, it was still a blessing, and hopes were high that developer Starbreeze Studios could take their formula and strike gold again with The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.… Read the rest