Tag Archives: video games

Reviewing Mighty No. 9

Professional gaming outlets have been unkind in their reviews of Mighty No. 9, and a tinge of frustration or perhaps even anger can often be found in the writing. Frankly, I neither agree with nor even understand most of their criticisms. After the long wait, after the roller coaster ride of enthusiasm, disappointment, and general confusion, Mighty No. 9 is a pretty good game! It is that unique hybrid of Mega Man and Mega Man X that I have been expecting almost all along, and to top things off, the game is budget-priced. I hope this becomes the first in a new continuing series for Comcept and Inti Creates, because while not perfect, it lays the groundwork for some truly excellent sequels just as Mega Man did in 1987. Read more

Reviewing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

When Naughty Dog first announced Uncharted 4, I was disappointed. I felt like the series had run its natural course and that another game at this odd juncture would just feel repetitive. Unfortunately, actually playing and completing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End only confirmed that feeling. Even worse, the game just does not give the player a whole lot to do. More than half of the game is spent walking, climbing, and staring at scenery, with combat serving as an uncommon and not utterly redeeming intermission. Production values are top notch throughout–as expected from Naughty Dog–but the experience distinctly lacks the magic and excitement of The Last of Us or, yes, Uncharted 2.

(This review only covers the single player campaign.) Read more

Reviewing Xenoblade Chronicles X

Xenoblade Chronicles X is a game about turning your brain off and indulging in a 90-hour power fantasy. To try to claim much more about the game than that would probably be overreaching. It takes everything about the design of its predecessor and says, “Let’s do that again, but bigger,” in the most literal possible sense. The only thing that didn’t survive the embiggening process was the previous game’s story execution. The ultimate result is an absolutely massive game where you as the player are largely left to your own devices, for better and for worse. Read more

Retro Review: Suikoden II

For years, I have seen people call Suikoden II one of the greatest RPGs ever made, but until recently, I had never played the series. Thanks to the PlayStation Store, I have finally rectified this issue. One hundred and eight Stars of Destiny later, I am ready to weigh in with my opinions on the game and where I think it ranks with other classic RPGs of days past. Long story short, I believe the game falls short in a couple fundamental ways, but makes up for it through (for the time) shear originality. Read more

Retrospective: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is basically the polar opposite of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Agonizing detail was put into the design of the compact but iconic levels of MGS4, and it was all wrapped up in a layer of story so dense and yet simultaneously elongated that you were basically watching the game more than you were playing it. Meanwhile, MGSV dumps you into a massive open world with only a few rules to follow, resulting in level design where very little stands out, but there is always so much to do, and the story is often almost nonexistent. In this way, MGSV actually makes for a rather harsh departure from any other numbered game in the series, and consequently makes for a strange swansong. I would like to do something different from my usual reviews, and instead merely discuss what I find to be the high and low points of this wildly different Metal Gear experience.

*Massive Spoilers Ahead* Read more

Reviewing Until Dawn

Until Dawn is a horror movie that you get to play and control. It celebrates as many tropes of the horror genre as it can fit into the span of one story, for better and for worse, but without ever devolving into parody or soulless copycat. This is not a game catering exclusively to horror junkies though; I had been excited to get my hands on this game for a long time, in spite of not actually being a fan of horror myself. As it turns out, my excitement was warranted. Until Dawn ain’t perfect, but that didn’t stop me from loving it. Read more

Why Creating a ‘Greatest Video Games of All Time’ List Is Impossible

Everybody loves to make “best ever” lists–best movies ever, best novels ever, best dish detergents ever, etc. And when it comes to video games, the Internet is bloated with articles trying to tell you which ones are the best. In fact, in my review of Axiom Verge, I casually began by calling Super Metroid maybe “the most perfect video game ever created.” But upon further scrutiny, I realize now that such distinctions are not really possible for video games. Here’s the simple reason why. Read more

Reviewing Axiom Verge

Placed in historical context and judged by its own merits, I think Super Metroid might be the most perfect video game ever created. Through unusual art direction and an exceedingly good soundtrack, the game managed to create a deeply rich atmosphere and weave a story with almost no dialogue. The levels were also designed so well that the game never needed to hold your hand, nor did it ever offer to hold your hand. Super Metroid was an experience where gameplay was king 100 percent of the time, and success or failure could always be blamed squarely on you, the player.

Axiom Verge draws inspiration from several old classics, not just Super Metroid, but including Blaster MasterBionic Commando, and even the original, seldom discussed Metroid. Yet it is still what many people now call a “Metroidvania” game, and it surely intends to deliver an experience where gameplay is king. And you know what? Axiom Verge delivers, above and beyond expectations. This game is just darn clever. The fact that it was made top to bottom by one guy is all the more impressive. Read more

Retro Review: Dragon Warrior VII

The Dragon Quest series, known as Dragon Warrior in the US until the release of Dragon Quest VIII, is the prototype for the entire JRPG genre. Originally inspired by complicated western role-playing computer games like Wizardry and UltimaDragon Quest simplified the formula and ended up becoming the most massively successful game series ever in Japan. In the United States though, the series has always played second fiddle (or maybe fourth or fifth fiddle) to the prettier and more cinematic Final Fantasy series. You can’t really blame the US though; we never officially got the fifth or sixth installments in this country at all until they were remade for the Nintendo DS. And although we did finally receive Dragon Warrior VII for PlayStation, it did not arrive until 2001, a full year after the release of PlayStation 2. I myself did not get my hands on the game until 13 years later.

In spite of its absolute adherence to tradition and an almost complete lack of innovation in its gameplay, I find that Dragon Warrior VII still holds up surprisingly well by today’s standards. I would even argue that, in both good and bad ways, this game pushes the concept of the traditional JRPG to its limit. Read more

Reviewing Dragon Age: Inquisition

In a lot of ways, Dragon Age: Inquisition was Bioware’s second chance at making Mass Effect 3. Both games task you with uniting the world/galaxy to combat a common threat, and both games are the third entry in series packed to the gills with history and player choices. The problem is that a whole lot of people hated Mass Effect 3. Its ending, as well as other elements of its design, alienated or at least disappointed many series fans, especially considering that Mass Effect 2 was so acclaimed that comparisons to The Empire Strikes Back were made. Dragon Age: Inquisition was Bioware’s opportunity to show they still had what it takes to put out a high quality AAA release. And they mostly succeeded.

[No Spoilers Ahead]

[Please Note: This review only covers the single-player component of the game.]

Read more

Recent Entries »