Recently Played: Resident Evil 6

Yeah, I know guys, Resident Evil 6. If you use the internet at all, listen to the Bombcast, or check out the forums you probably already know the general pulse of what people are feeling when it comes to the continuing series of viruses, B.O.W.s and dead, mutating things. From what I can tell, it seems divisive at the very least.

So I had to see it for myself. I probably won't say anything new here, so if you're already tired with Resident Evil talk, feel free to punch out. One of the reasons I felt compelled to write this blog is because I realized I've been with this series for some time. I wasn't there when OG Resident Evil on the playstation came out, but over the years I've done some catching up. Case in point below:

Resident Evil 6 joins the fray. Operation Raccoon City accidentally wanders into frame. Resident Evil 4 is still my favorite

I dug all those out of my game collection for this line up. The plain white box is a PS1 copy of Resident Evil 2 (in outstanding condition) I bought from a Hollywood Video store for 5 dollars. Now, I'm not a Resident Evil superfan or whatever the kids call it these days. I've always admired this series for the mix up of zombies, precious guns, and the healthy cast of animal abominations and physics defying bioweapons. Resident Evil has a lot of very cool monster designs. Some are more annoying than others. So I couldn't miss the latest installment even with the risk of quality involved. I had to see where it was all going.

Besides, I beat the two Souls games. There's nothing Resident Evil 6 can do to me. I've built up an immunity to unfriendly game design. It can't touch me.

There are probably spoilers. Or enough information to be considered spoilers if the trailers haven't already done it for you.

Resident Evil 6 (Too Much Mutation: The Game)

It's like this in a lot of ways

I don't think this is the worst game ever made. I don't hate it as much as Brad Shoemaker and Patrick Klepek seem to, but I can see where that rage stems from after beating all the campaigns myself. I certainly didn't have as much trouble as they did, but there is a lot of frustrating bullshit going on here, even for a Resident Evil game. But what does that even mean anymore? This series has always been changing. The trick is knowing where to stop, and in my opinion this series has pulled a full William Birkin- transforming and mutating after every encounter. And now it has finally become a bloated mess of flesh and teeth stuck on a train hardly capable of anything except Michael Bay-esque explosions and chase sequences until the self-destruct goes off.

Which is a real shame because I still like the characters in 6, and most of the story bits are done alright with some pretty good voice acting. The story makes Resident Evil sense at the very least. It just doesn't have very good pacing or play as well as 4 and 5. A lot of subtle things I liked about the series have been left behind for a faster, more frantic experience. And I think 6 suffers a lot for that. Some of the QTEs in this game are poorly timed. Some of them are so tight you really have to mash the button prompt or spin that stick hard or you instantly die. And strangely enough, I didn't have much trouble with the notorious rope climbing sequence I heard about. Not to say it's easy or anything, it's definitely a pain in the ass.

Or to put it another way, I had way more fun with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City... so take that as you will.

Killing All the Little Things

I miss looking at maps, guys. I know that sounds petty, but I missed getting presented with an area and spreading out to find keys, shortcuts, and guns. It's about the exploration. RE4 was split into three areas in the form of the Village, the Castle, and the Island. That was still pretty linear, but there were enough loops and backtracking that gave me enough of that "trapped in a mansion-laboratory-police station" feeling. And you had a map. The co-op and multiplayer demands probably trashed that quickly, as there are hardly any quiet moments in 6. You're always moving, always getting attacked by something, always fighting monsters and the QTE-Virus. Compared to the rest of the games in the series, this is breakneck speed. And as dumb as the puzzles were and how little sense they made in the other games, they were still a form of personality for Resident Evil. I'm talking about emblems and chess pieces that doubled as door plugs. Sometimes a video game just has to be a video game, logic be damned.

Merchant guy was all: "You like shotguns?" And I was all: "I love shotguns!" I miss him.

Also, the finding of new weapons is a trivial thing. And you can't upgrade any of them. One of the biggest things that brought me back to Resident Evil 4 (and 5 to an extent) was getting enough money to upgrade my favorite guns and buy cool new stuff. I suppose they tried to keep the upgrade system in place in the form of buying skills (like extra damage for specific enemies, faster reloads, more defense, etc) but they never had the same impact as increased damage on a sniper rifle or a magnum. I don't feel like I get the same kind of payoffs from this system. I still want to make a cool ass assault rifle or shotgun and blast some not-zombies and B.O.W.s. Not to mention ammunition is an endangered species in this game. I have never run out of ammo and healing items so often and so fast than I have in RE6.

On another level, I feel like they've overdone the "this enemy seems impossible to kill" mentality coined by Birkin and Mr. X from 2, that was fine tuned later with Nemesis from 3. Now every single boss does this. They come back again and again to the point where it feels pointless to shoot at them. They're all doing the Nemesis thing, and this really hurts Jake's campaign with the Ustanak. His shtick is old hat if you play the campaigns in order, so it's never really surprising when you keep seeing a particular enemy again and again. It's less of "he keeps coming!" and more of "yeah, him again..." I would have preferred a larger variety of boss monsters.

The Many Faces of Resident Evil 6

Since Resident Evil 6 went the action route, it's really easy to be mean and apply silly subtitles to the campaigns of what they (accidentally or intentionally) end up evoking. So I couldn't help myself here. Anyways, I'm not going to cover everything, just some of the feelings I had when playing it.

- Leon's Campaign (Left 4 Max Payne) -

This is my favorite Resident Evil 6 screenshot, ever

I find it hilarious that the secondary function on Leon's pistol is to whip out another pistol and dual wield them Max Payne style. You can tear through your pistol bullets in seconds flat, but Leon does have a fucking awesome reload animation where he spins his guns to eject his used magazines. Other than that... this is about as close as you're going to get to Resident Evil of the olden days. There are zombies, zombie dogs, and zombie presidents. There are also types of zombies that really remind me of Left 4 Dead, the Whopper especially. And you'll also go where no Resident Evil game has ever gone before- a passenger airplane! The bad part is that Leon's campaign has everything. Even an escort mission.

Lastly, Leon crashes like every single vehicle he steps foot in, without exception. I found that endlessly funny for some reason. He's like a virus for transportation. I guess that's why that ambulance death in the first chapter feels so cheap. I bet more than half of everyone who played Leon's campaign got killed by that ambulance.

- Chris' Campaign (Call of Evil: Resident Battlefield) -

Man, one thing I like is how beat Chris seems in this campaign. He has a lot of great thousand yard stares and glances with Jake. One thing that's almost impossible to ignore is how much his story has the dressings of modern military shooters. You have a useless squad, ho-hum vehicle sections, lots of radio conversations with HQ, airstrikes, and get up to no good with a harrier jet. To be fair, I found the harrier jet part kind of fun playing as Chris. It gave me shades of AC-130/Chopper Gunner fun, which is always welcome. But... this is a Resident Evil game, so I would be lying if I said it didn't feel out of place. And I know, Chris flew a harrier jet in Code Veronica- but that was a cutscene.

This campaign does have one of the better boss battles in the whole game where you fight something that's a cross between the Predator and Yawn from RE1. Playing cat and mouse with that thing was pretty well done and definitely one of the high moments of RE6.

- Jake's Campaign (Stuck in the Middle with Ustanak) -

Jake says "Get Bent!" and then hits him with a folding chair

If I had to choose, I think this is my favorite campaign of the bunch. I really like Jake Muller, probably because he's voiced by Troy Baker and does a really good job. The whole son of Wesker thing is 'eh', but I felt like it was handled as well as it could. Sherry Birkin is also pretty cool considering she was a somewhat annoying helpless child in RE2 and has a few good tricks up her sleeves. Her history plays well with Jake's background, so her appearance doesn't feel completely random. The whole call back to Nemesis with the Ustanak is whatever, considering he only shows up when the plot demands it instead of stalking you room to room. There are a few bad stealth sequences to be found here and there, and one part with a stupid tank... but overall I liked it.

Fun fact, I played Jake's campaign first. So I accidentally played it in chronological order. It was eye opening to play the others and get the full story considering these guys are left mostly in the dark of the main plot. Also, the first weapon pick up is the long barrel magnum called the Elephant Killer. I bet the merchant guy would be proud.

- Ada's Campagn (I Spy Frustration) -

Ada's campaign has most of the stupid bullshit and is my least favorite of the bunch, but it does clear up lots of the questions you get from the other three. Mainly, I didn't like her main weapons in the form of a peashooter SMG and a lame crossbow. She has this dumb sequence where you have to stand on a platform waiting for button prompts while enemies with LMGs and guns swarm the area. And another part where you fall through the floor and land so close to blades that it kills you instantly unless you have split second timing with the crawl button. And there's a really touchy chase sequence where the game has a hard time deciding if you avoided a wall trap or not. Just about the only fun I had with Ada was a long part where you fly a helicopter and blast things with machine guns.

Naturally, the end of her story only leaves you with more questions. And a really underwhelming cut scene after the credits.

It's Not the End of the World (Yet)

My time with Resident Evil 6 ran pretty hot and cold. I think the whole dodge/roll system is really annoying where you have to aim your gun first before you can evade. That adds a start up time which makes avoiding boss attacks way harder than it should be. I do have to give RE6 credit for putting together a cast without a blatantly terrible character in the mix. There's no Irving or Ramon Salazar wasting screen time. Everyone, even the villains, feel pretty solid with good voices too. Also, I love games where you can play as more than one character and see different sides of the same event. It's one of the reasons I love Suikoden III so much, so I'm glad they made that such a big part of 6. That was one of my favorite parts of RE2. The changing HUD graphics were pretty cool, even if they were a bit jarring at first.

I will say that Resident Evil 6 definitely feels rough. But I don't think it's the worst thing in the world. Probably more schizophrenic than anything else. I do think this series would benefit from taking a break, or stepping away from the mountain of continuity they keep breaking and reforming to fit the next adventure. Most importantly, HUNK needs his own game.

3 Comments

The Complete 'Soul' Experience (Demon's and Dark)

It's October! With games like Borderlands 2 and Resident Evil 6 out and about, naturally I bought Demon's Souls for less than twenty dollars and played it to completion. I tend to do that thing where I play a sequel or spiritual successor and eventually develop a need to play the first games in the series. It's not quite as crippling as Vinny Caravella's need to play games in order before moving on (or soak up all the media associated with a game) but it happens occasionally.

What makes this blog complicated is that I played and beat Dark Souls first, so... I realize my opinion may not mean a damn thing in the long run. I had already developed the Souls mindset, so it can't really compare to the experiences of the people who were there when it first came out. The "Rule of Firsts" is definitely in effect here.

Demon's Souls (and Dark Souls): Unforgiving Fantasy Adventure - The Game

The ancient art of Castle and Dragon

After braving and beating the two Soul games from FromSoftware (that will never not be awkward to read) I can say with certainty that I like Dark Souls way more out of the two. This is mostly because Demon's Souls feels less creative when it comes to their enemy designs and overall setting, which is the thing that brought me to this series in the first place. You visit a fantasy castle, a fantasy mine, a fantasy prison, a fantasy island (but not the TV kind) and a fantasy swamp. There are a few levels with some cool parts to them, but areas in Demon's Souls could easily fit into any medieval video game. The bosses also lack the vicious twist that Dark Souls had, with a few exceptions. I never found any creature as visually menacing as the Chaos Eater or Mimic in this game. Or any area as strange as the giant tree growing on top of a giant bell deep underground next to lava and demon ruins. Those giant flying Manta Rays that fire ice spikes were pretty cool though.

Not to say I didn't have fun (or as much fun as you can have with this kind of game), so I don't mean to sound down on it.

One thing Demon's Souls has going for it is that it feels way less harder than its successor. Whereas Dark Souls is ready to kick you in the balls at every turn, the levels and enemy placement here are much more kind. Some enemies still camp out next to doorways ready to jump you as Soul games tend to do, but for the most part it pulls back on trying to lure you forward so hordes of dudes can attack from behind. The placement of checkpoints from boss fights are also better, cutting out some of the long grueling treks between dying and going for another attempt. Demon's Souls still has its moments though, like Squid Faced Assholes hanging out on spiral staircases where your lock-on has trouble targeting them with the added difficulty of zero room to maneuver. Or more frustrating, placing giant pillbugs in small ass tunnels that soak up so much damage, you'd think they were made of fucking adamantium. And when you kill them, they explode like mini-nukes.

Those Souls games, man. I'm telling you.

Souls... Souls Never Changes

Probably the weirdest part of playing Dark Souls first is catching all the references made to this game before I knew they were references. And it's not throwaway lines or characters with oddly similar names (try the exact names). They're whole scenarios and levels, boss fights and NPCs. In one way, that means that these references work both ways, but it still feels weird thinking about all the tricks FromSoftware decided to bring back... like poisonous bogs lined with shanty towns that kill the frame rate, a boss that calls in reinforcements when it's almost dead, dragons that fry bridges with little warning, enemies that hide out and spawn other enemies in a tomb, a traitorous asshole NPC that kills your friends after you free him from jail, a traitorous asshole NPC that tries to rob you blind and becomes a merchant later, and a disheartened NPC that thinks you ain't shit. I find it hard to fault them for it though. I guess it would be like faulting Mario for using ice worlds or Mega Man for using spikes or those disappearing blocks. They're just part of the game's personality.

What a Pair of Assholes

What's also similar is the flow of the boss fights in this game. Once again, the dual bosses are the hardest bosses (because the Soul games can't handle group combat) while everyone else, especially the final boss, feels like a chump in comparison. The Maneaters specifically should have been the last boss in the game. Instead, they show up in the third level. Fighting two of those fuckers on a narrow bridge while they jump all over you like rabid flying gorillas caused me Capra Demon levels of rage. Every other boss is just a matter of patience. Or in the case of the Penetrator, luring it into an easy pattern of leaping attacks and side slashes until it penetrates no more. After the Maneaters, I really can't complain about the last boss harmlessly rolling on the ground while I incinerate it with fireballs. It was cathartic, for sure.

Sticky White Stuff

Maybe it's just a sign of my skill, but I feel like these games have a common thread where there is no special weapon or all powerful magic that will carry the day. I remember in Dark Souls unlocking the final Pyromancy spell and finding how utterly useless it was (even though it's an area attack spell). I missed Seath the Scaleless with it, a three story tall crystal dragon. Spending time at the blacksmith with rare souls also came up with disappointment as I craft swords and bows I don't have the stats to use. Or in the case of Demon's Souls, never having the right materials. I have to respect these games leaning on the side practical equipment rather than flashy ultimate weapons. I used a fireball and a fire sword to beat the game, and that didn't work half bad.

I was surprised to find lots of people still playing this game well after its release date, as levels were littered with bloodstains and messages. Invasions were a different story. I was only invaded once and didn't even see the guy before he somehow died on his own. But that was welcome considering how broken player combat is in Dark Souls. I don't imagine it would be any different here. There are also other things like level select vs. an open world, item equip load vs. carrying as much as you want. Most of that feels like minor details in the grand scheme of things as the delivery method doesn't change how unforgiving these games are that much. You're still going to die.

(Which boss has the funnier name? The Penetrator or Ceaseless Discharge? I can't decide!)

36 Comments

Past Expiration: Doom II - Hell on Earth

So until a few days ago, I had not played Doom in any shape or form. Pick a Doom game, I hadn't touched it. But after re-watching some of the Breaking Brad: Doom II Ultra-violence videos over Labor Day, I got the urge to try it out and played through all of Doom II: Hell on Earth. Considering this is an old ass PC game that cellphones can probably run, this is definitely Past Expiration. I haven't done one of these in a long while.

Also, this is my thinly veiled suggestion for Brad to get back to his Doom II Ultra-violence run. I need more Brad Ultra-violence. Preferably with double Brads, but I understand if that's a tall order.

Doom II: Hell is Level Design

Yeah, you know what time it is

What can I possibly say about Doom II that hasn't already been said somewhere else? Does anyone actually need an introduction? Can I just say Cyberdemon and move on? What about double barrel shotgun? How about that asshole Arch-vile?

How about the devil? You know... the one in hell.

But just so I don't get lazy, Doom II is a simplistic FPS (compared to today's standards, mind you) where you don't have to worry about looking up and down, cover systems, or completing objectives. There are no cut scenes and no partner AI. No secondary functions or quick kill melee attacks. This is Doom, son. All you have to do is point your weapon in the general direction of your target and pull the trigger. Even at distance with a shotgun or rocket launcher, shots will automatically curve up or down depending on where your nearest enemy is standing. The only goal is to find three colored keys or less and get to the exit. Watch out for the buckets and buckets of demonic creatures out for your blood.

Of course the biggest enemy in this game isn't any one of the demons standing in your way, but the winding, sometimes obscure level design where you have to check every fucking wall just to figure out where to go next. Sometimes you have to jump off ledges without the luxury of looking where you're leaping. Of course, insane level design is partially justified by the protagonist making a journey to hell. Why would hell ever make sense to a human mind? The levels in this game reminded me a lot of Dark Souls (or should Dark Souls remind me of Doom?) where the game can't help itself. You start to know when it's going to trigger a ton of enemies after you grab sweet, sweet health or a cool new item. It can't help but blatantly advertise traps and collapsing walls once you've learned its routine.

I'm saying that Doom II and Dark Souls would totally hang out together and share drinks at a bar. Two assholes, having fun together.

Despite that, I still found Doom II a lot of fun. Mostly because of the shooting mechanics and the selection of weapons, crazy level design be damned.

Fun with Shotguns (and those other weapons)

The Greatest Shotgun Ever Programmed

There's a charming simplicity about the way shooting things in Doom II works. It keeps the action moving as the only way to really aim in this game is by moving your point of view around. You never have those moments where you pull up iron sights and take aim. No, you're always blazing around dodging shots and returning fire. Things are always moving in a fight. Not to mention Doom II has the greatest shotgun in any video game I've ever played, easily beating out the one in Resident Evil 4. Even the regular shotgun has the range of rifles, the pump action the only thing slowing you down.

But I'm all about the double barrel shotgun. It feels so damn good to blast enemies with that thing. It kills most of the fodder demons in one volley, and isn't a bad choice to use on the bigger guys. Watching the pixelated corpse of a Cacodemon or Mancubus erode after killing them with the double barrel is really satisfying. Clearing a whole room of troops or imps is also a great moment. It's so damn good. The sound effects and animations (even after the passage of time) hold up pretty well. But I'm never one to sweat graphics. My opinion is that graphics are not the most important part of a video game. They're nice, but not key.

The other weapons are pretty good too. I have to say the Plasma Rifle is probably my second favorite to the double barrel considering how it chews through everything. Great sound effect and blue color for the stream of plasma death. I guess it would be criminal if I didn't mention the BFG9000, but I found it went through ammo too fast. It's certainly handy in the right situations. My least favorite weapon out of the bunch is the Chain Gun, which takes too long to kill anything and feels like a waste of ammo. Sure, it's fine with the lesser dudes. But the number of bullets it takes to kill a Cacodemon is embarrassing. Especially when the double barrel can get that done in two or three shots.

The Story, Enemy Designs, and Other Junk

The Spiders had a cool sound effect though....

This game was made in the 90s, and if you didn't know that, the story and numerous icons of the devil and all things demonic are a dead give away. Doom II has a Mega Man effort of story justification where... does it matter why you're traveling to hell and fighting skeletons armed with rocket launchers? Much like, does it matter why you're fighting Dr. Wily and eight new Robot Masters again? The fact that Doom II is really fun helps it overcome a lot of the aesthetics I don't really like about the game. One thing I've always really disliked about Doom in general was the enemy designs, which all come off pretty juvenile in the way that blood equals mature, and skeletons and goat heads are the coolest things in the entire world. It lacks... subtlety. But it's Doom, so I'll deal with it.

I hope that doesn't come off harsh. I'm just saying that nothing about the enemy designs really impress me, only their AI patterns and abilities make them stand out. The Arch-Vile could be a stuffed turkey and I would still be scared of it because it can set me on fire by looking at me and revive the other guys I killed a few seconds ago. If the Pain Elemental was a basketball that spat flaming badminton, I would still think it's a total pain in the ass that takes priority over most other enemies because fuck those flying skulls, man. It's probably because Doom is such a staple of video game and FPS history that it's become a Citizen Kane moment. Nothing was a real surprise. I would really like to know if people who played Doom II for the first time found any of it scary or edgy. If you're one of those players, feel free to let me know. It's probably hard to communicate that if you weren't there in the moment when it first came out.

...Still a lot of Fun Though

Playing Doom II has filled in a lot of blanks for me. I can see how it was and still is a big deal. I thought it was funny how the levels change how threatening the enemies are. It makes using the right weapons in the right places really, really important. I still don't like any platforming or jumping puzzles in first person games. Even in Doom II, trying to sprint or launch myself at the right angles to cover chasms or gaps was a real pain in the ass. And the level design feels pretty uneven overall. Some stages take forever because they're so obscure (like the Citadel and the Industrial Zone), and some are just kind of funny like the one with all the rooms of exploding barrels in patterns set for chain reactions (appropriately titled Barrels O' Fun).

So yeah, I feel caught up. And I had a good time. I probably haven't said anything new when it comes to Doom II but I feel better for getting it out there. Maybe people who grew up with Doom will find it entertaining on some level.

12 Comments

Recently Played: Snoozing Pooches (Sleeping Dogs)

Can I just start this by saying how refreshing it is to have an open world crime game in a setting outside the USA? One of the things I wanted most out of the Grand Theft Auto series for a long time was to use a city outside The United States of America. While still fun, it was kind of a let down to go back to Liberty City in 4. Even Saints Row the Third (as insane and off the wall as it was) had the city of Steelport in the borders of North America.

So it was a great change of pace to take on the video game version of Hong Kong in Sleeping Dogs. I'm not even going to touch it's long, tenuous history from a game with a female protagonist to True Crime and beyond. There are probably way better sources than I. I'm just happy this game exists as it does. I had a lot of fun with it.

Sleeping Dogs (I'm Waiting for that Title Drop)

If I had to describe Sleeping Dogs in one word, it would probably be: solid. This game doesn't really do anything new or groundbreaking in terms of game play or story telling, but it's so well rounded. Not to mention fun. What probably did the most for me was the setting and subject matter. Hong Kong is a city with some steep history between China and Great Britain, and choosing the Triads as the criminal element of choice to dive into (as opposed to making them a faceless rival gang you beat up on) was perfect. Red Poles, Dragonheads, and more, it's all the little things that made this game so enjoyable to me. And I love, love breaking people's legs in combat and watching everyone else visibly flinch. Great bone breaking sound effects.

Wei Shen: Wheelman

So if you don't know, this is a GTA style open world game about gangsters, undercover cops, and breaking the law. Only it's in China, so you'll have some local color in the form of driving on the left side of the road (assuming your country of origin doesn't do that already) and dashes of Cantonese from main characters and pedestrians alike. It's also got shades of Vin Diesel Wheelman in the form of air jacking (or stunt position if you prefer) and a button designated for ramming people with your vehicle of choice. Not to mention some Arkham-esque melee combat with counters and combos and enemies that will make sure you just don't button mash to victory. And yes, it's got guns that go bang-bang and cars that go vroom-vroom. Those are okay, but it all meshes together well enough for a good time.

A Killer in the Kitchen, Too

I mostly enjoyed the fist fights (I was always happy to enter combat) and the various weapons like meat cleavers and tire irons. I love meat cleavers as weapons. You get some sweet moves too. I liked the grappling attacks because you could follow up with breaking some poor thugs' arm or leg with the right timing. They actually have some enemy variety too like tough guys who can shrug off damage (aka they don't flinch when hit) and big guys who can throw your ass around if you try to grab them. Much like Batman, it feels very satisfying to take on twenty plus enemies and just mop the floor with them. And in this game you have the option to whip out a blade or throw a guy into a meat hook if you feel like it. There are some great environmental kills in this game. The ice chipper (when you find one) is so, so good.

Never turn your back on Mrs. Chu

As for the story, I enjoyed that too. There are some real characters in Sleeping Dogs. People I remember. Not to mention a collection of some of the best gang names I've heard in a long time. My favorite would have to be "Broken Nose" Jiang who is one of the rare female Triad members. When I first heard her name I thought she was a man because I couldn't imagine a lady with a nickname like that. You also have "Dogeyes" Lin, "Big Smile" Lee, "Two Chin" Tsao, and many more. The guy you play as is pretty cool too. Wei Shen has a great voice actor and some great animations all around. Some of my favorites involve the moments when he gets out of bed after a long night of... messy triad business... and his idle animation is him on the verge of freaking out. It's a nice touch to represent the stress of undercover work.

...Still Waiting for the Title Drop

Not to say that Sleeping Dogs is a flawless piece of work. It's got a fair share of "open world jank" as the crew at Giantbomb would put it. Generally in my video game playing history, I've always been lucky. I never ran into anything game breaking in my playthrough. The worst thing that happened to me was one mission taking a really long time to cue up the phone call that would move the story along like it had frozen or something. A few times the valet that delivered my car would get out, assume the seating position like he was still in the car, and then disappear into the street. Sometimes the physics got real weird (as in people and cars flying way too high into the air) and sometimes Wei Shen would get caught up on a corner during foot chases that he should easily be able to climb. Nothing was terrible or frequent enough to ruin my time with Sleeping Dogs... although your mileage will vary.

The way you get more money in this game stealing armored cars or select vehicles was nicely done. The customization for Shen's clothing was cool as they had a nice variety of thuggish clothing and slick suits to beat up enemies in. The progression system of Cop, Triad, and Face (as in the expression "saving face") experience was a nice touch to keep things moving and a sense of accomplishment. I also appreciate how the game took itself seriously enough for the sake of the story. Those technological mini-games (bugs, tracking phone calls, hacking computers, etc) were okay. And the free missions doing favors for people (or getting robbed) was interesting enough.

It's hard to say what kind of future this game has, but if they do plan to make another, I think I want that crime game with a female protagonist. Hopefully in another city outside the USA. After all, variety is the spice of life.

P.S: ...the title of this game is referring to the old saying of "let sleeping dogs lie" right?

10 Comments

Going Overboard: Anarchy Reigns

Hey guys, I think Anarchy Reigns is pretty good.

I realize my last few blog posts have been nothing but information or talk about this game after I imported it, so I think I'll make this my last entry on the subject and sum up as many thoughts as I can. I will admit up front that my opinion may be colored by my feelings for the developer. Platinum Games (formerly Clover Studios) has always struck me as a group that never caught a break despite all the great work they do in terms of style, characters, and creative weirdness. They ship complete games that aren't loaded down with excessive DLC that leave people feeling burned or cheated. If you're looking for something new or different, they're not a bad place to start.

And yet their latest game has been delayed by SEGA to 2013 just in time to be snowed under all the heavy releases in that window even though it's fully localized and ready to go. I'm not privy to the business side of things that made that decision happen, but Platinum's run of luck sure hasn't gotten any better.

So on that note, I wanted to express how much I enjoy this game. If it ever does get released outside Japan, I'd gladly buy it again.

Anarchy Reigns (or Max Anarchy)

Airstrikes Rain like Actual Rain

For a game that has "Anarchy" in the title (Japanese or English) it sure does a pretty good job coming close to the sentiment. This is especially true in multiplayer where numerous randomized events and roaming enemies make sure player on player combat is anything but routine. I played one game where four teams of two players battled it out in the street while a giant killer robot (appropriately named Cthulhu) appeared and took shots at us with a huge death ray. Then an airstrike came along and littered the area with bombs at the same time. Between the robot, the airstrike, and the eight players it was delightfully hectic and ridiculous. I got blown up in the process, but the kind of shit that happens in a normal game more than makes up for the average stress of winning or losing. Taking part in it is almost a reward all on its own.

One time I fought a guy until he got hit by a semi-truck Uncharted 3 style. On the top of a skyscraper. It was hilarious.

Anarchy Reigns is a brawler more in line with Smash Bros. than Street Fighter. It's not strictly about fighting fair. Combat deals with a light attack, a heavy attack, a throw, jumping (usually for launchers and juggling along with stage navigation) and each character's killer weapon special ability. Combos are pretty simplistic via button combinations. People who have played MadWorld on the Wii might find the set up familiar as Anarchy Reigns is a spiritual sequel with many of the same characters from that game. The killer weapon (arguably the spice of this game) lets player deal out some heavy damage with some awesome looking weapons and great looking character effects. You can't use it all the time as it's dictated by a meter that refills through damage dealt out and received. Obviously you want to work it in at the right time at the end of combos to ruin people's day. Not to mention the various items sitting around each stage like tires and street signs you can use to incapacitate targets. That's not even including the sniper rifles, satellite targeting, and firebombs you can equip and use. Death can get pretty creative in this game.

There's also something called rampage mode that you build up after taking and dishing out damage that makes you invincible and lets you tear into enemies like something out of God Hand. I imagine this might make or break some people on the experience as the only way to counter this mode is to run and hide, carefully time rolls to avoid getting caught the animation, or with your own rampage mode. I've never been able to escape or avoid it online and against bots, but some people have gotten good at dodging it. Two players who clash in rampage mode have to mash face buttons randomly decided by a prompt. The winner tears through the loser (almost always killing them in the process) and is allowed to continue wrecking shit up. To me it mostly seems like a form of rubberbanding, as you can make quite a comeback if you use it right. It doesn't last too long so it doesn't strike me as a game breaker. It is insanely useful in survival mode though.

The Story (Like the Wild West with Mutants and Cyborgs)

If you're interested in the setting and story, the campaign mode will make a decent introduction. The world of Anarchy Reigns is pretty messed up. War has littered the globe with chemical and biological weapons, pollution, and rampaging mutants. Cybernetics and nano-machines are popular ways to stay alive without turning into twisted creatures. Countries don't seem to matter that much anymore as civilization has been reduced to somewhat clean future cities where "normal" life happens and the mutated wasteland outside where guys like Edgar Oinkie and Durga prey on everyone they come across. Think of it like the Wild West with mutants where main characters Jack Cayman (pro bounty hunter and chainsaw enthusiast) and Leo (future cop with limb mounted laser blades) hunt a wanted man through the unforgiving frontier for different reasons. Also questioning the definition of justice in a world just a few shades away from the apocalypse.

Overall the story mode is pretty enjoyable. You'll play as both Jack and Leo through four stages taking on various missions where you meet, greet, and fight your way from start to finish. I don't want to say it's open world, but for the most part you'll be let loose in a large area where you find beacons to take on the different missions. It runs hot and cold. Main missions have most of the narrative meat where you run into the multiplayer cast and beat them up. But there are also free missions that have no bearing on the plot which range from funny, to frustrating, to dull depending on the objective. They're somewhat mandatory as your point score unlocks the story missions as you go. You could just hang out and fight the roaming enemies in the hub, but that will take awhile if you're that stubborn. On medium it's pretty enjoyable and will test you in some cases. But on Hard, the game will routinely crush you, even going as far as stooping low enough to use a seemingly infinite combo to see if you remembered how to break free of something like that.

Bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon bacon...

For the most part, the voice acting is fine. You'll get a solid performance from Steve Blum as Jack. The other characters are nice as well with the exception of Edgar Oinkie (by Yuri Lowenthal) who is either the worst character in this game or the greatest character in this game. My personal favorite is Robert Pine who does a memorable job voicing Maximilian Caxton. I'll say they're certainly well designed characters. Whether they're good characters is probably up for debate. Anyone with an animal motif leans a little too hard into associated puns, especially Oinkie who chants 'bacon' over and over as he runs within the game. Expect Big Bull to mention his horns more than a few times and Durga to play up his tiger "in it for the hunt" routine. It certainly carries over into multiplayer.

The Black Baron is there too (voiced by Arif Kinchen) still caught somewhere between offensive characture, comic relief, and oddly endearing despite all that. I almost want to say he's toned down the pimp talk considerably from MadWorld. You probably know where you stand on that. And as a last point, things are tied up quite nicely with an ending I felt pretty good about. Which is refreshing. Not to say the story is full of plot twists but I was pleasantly surprised how it worked out.

The Main Event (Multiplayer)

As you could probably guess, a big reason why you would buy Anarchy Reigns is for the delightfully ridiculous multiplayer. And I have to say, they didn't skimp on the various modes. I have a tough time deciding where to start, but besides the standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch of varying sizes, they have modes where players get handed out class skills, special team up abilities, and other weird rules. They also have a free-for-all Battle Royale up to 16 players and a soccer-like game called Deathball, capture the flag and more. Most of it is detailed in the honest-to-God instruction booklet included with the game (full of pages with color and everything!). But since I can't read Japanese the finer points are lost on me. Most of my favorite multiplayer sessions include the Horde-like Survival Mode, the insanity of Battle Royale, and four player Deathmatch.

You can also do 1 vs. 1 cage matches but I would say that's not where this game's strength are. The chaos of other modes are far more entertaining.

No attachments for gun legs, though

It has a Call of Duty style persistence like you could probably guess, but this mostly unlocks emblems for identification and multiplayer characters if you didn't get them through the story mode. A few perks for select modes can be earned this way, such as increasing how fast you can run, your speed when carrying large objects like cars and signposts, and other things. I haven't seen anything that breaks the game, most of it is a matter of play style or leaning heavily on something you're good at. Since it's a primarily point based game and kills aren't the be-all-end-all, some perks increase bonuses from winning duels and other factors. And you can only equip one at a time.

Since I imported it, most of my games have been spanning the Pacific with players from Japan. But despite the difference with lag, I've still had a lot of fun. Finding games have been a little difficult here and there, but it's never skipped or melted down to the point where a game suddenly crashed and ended. Once I've gotten in, it's held stable and I've had a blast. It's worth mentioning that multiplayer can be done with bots through the "Training Mode" in the menu if you have internet issues or reasons against playing with people. You can simulate any game from Survival to Deathball with the appropriate number of bots for each mode. They know how to use items and avoid the stage hazards, but they can be a little on the easy side and sometimes get caught up on geometry jumping at walls.

A Few of My Personal Favorites (Characters and Soundtrack)

Everyone Loves Rin Rin

Two things I love most about Anarchy Reigns involve the cast of playable psychopaths and the soundtrack. The detail spent on the animations of characters activating and putting away their killer weapons I find damn impressive, not to mention their various animations involving throws and landing particularly hard hits. Durga, probably my favorite character overall, has an execution on the big green mutants where he jumps in their face, shoves his gun leg down their throat and pulls the trigger until his revolver cannon goes click. Almost every character has something to offer and they're all pretty fun to play. Most of the online games I've played have been dominated by Rin Rin, her sisters, and Bayonetta (pre-order bonus), but it's great that they have sixteen plus characters all crazy in their own way. While I might not be able to stand Oinkie's bacon jokes, I do appreciate his killer weapon as he hits really, really hard.

The second thing I love most about this game is the soundtrack, which continues the trend started by MadWorld to accompany fights to the death with rap and hip-hop. The nice thing is that profanity is few and far in between, as most artists use their words when it comes to exposition songs that talk about the state of the Anarchy Reigns world or detail a particular quirk about the cast, albeit in their own way. It probably won't change your opinion on the genre if you're decidedly against, but I find it adds something unique to the experience. The posturing and bragging associated with that kind of music works well considering how confident or brutal characters try to be within the game. The 32 songs with lyrics have some variety with them as some are fast paced and relentless like "Venom" by muzeOne, some much slower like "This is Madness" by Dilated Peoples, "Lights Out" by Ox, and some decidedly goofy like "They Came From Underground" by Rushden and Diamonds or "We All Soldiers" by Skitz the Samurida. Not to mention standouts like "Play My Ass Off" by Josh Clemons which has become the unofficial anthem for the game as far as I can tell.

Some of my personal favorites include "Soon Enough" by Sick YG, "Jaw" by muzeOne, and "Find You" by Doujah Raze. If you have the time, I would recommend heading on over to YouTube to give a listen. At the moment I'd have to say it's the soundtrack of the year for me even if it technically wasn't released in North American or Europe yet.

Ending the Anarchy

As for the question of importing, I think that depends on what you're willing to spend for one game, and if you really enjoy Platinum Games' style. I've heard talk that Anarchy Reigns might get a North American and Europe release sometime in March 2013. If you can wait that long (assuming it doesn't get delayed yet again or canceled) I think it's worth checking out. Platinum is pretty good at ridiculous spectacle and Anarchy Reigns certainly delivers.

"Done? This motherfucker's not even medium rare!"
16 Comments

Mail Time: Putting the Chainsaw in Anarchy

So this came in the mail today.

Max Anarchy in the House

This is the first time I've imported something before, so you'll have to excuse my crappy digital photos to mark the event. I've been looking forward to this game for some time, so I couldn't wait any longer and shelled out the extra money I've been saving up over the past month or two. It helps that the game is region free and booted up in English when I put it in my PS3. No messing around with settings. The only real tricky part was redeeming all my Anarchy related codes. You have to go through the Japanese PStore if you want Bayonetta or the extra multiplayer modes you can earn through the official Japanese site for Max Anarchy. A small hassle, but totally worth it because it works for all profiles and not just the one that downloaded it.

I've played an hour or so of it already with a dash of campaign and a dash of multiplayer against bots. Durga is confirmed as my favorite character so far. He may be a high pitched psychopath with a penchant for tigers, but the dude has style with that gun leg. So much fun to watch and play.

Controls feel pretty solid. I feel most people have already gone through the trouble to play the Japanese Demo so I won't linger long on how it feels. Short version, it's very MadWorld-like with two control sticks. Heavy and light attacks, grab, jump, etc. The only thing that continues to throw me is the lock-on, which is decent, but hard to spin around when someone attacks you from behind and you want to break loose and turn. I'm still working on that. I don't believe it will be a problem in the long run.

OH, and it I did try the online. I did a survival match with two other guys and had a blast. The connection was... okay I guess. Things did jump around from here or there but it was stable all the way through. My crew and I fought some guys with flamethowers, giant mutants, a squad of robots with annoying riot shields, a muscle car with a mini-gun turret, and lastly a giant squid monster with electric tentacles. You know, Anarchy Reigns stuff.

If anyone else has imported Anarchy Reigns for the PS3 and would like to play, message me at "Sarumarine" and we can try to get some games in. I'm not sure if the connection will hold up seeing as how this was supposed to be released for Japan, but it's worth a shot I guess.

Yup... Yup... Can't Read Most of That

Celebrate with Soundtracks

So far I'm totally pleased with my purchase. And since I'm in such a good mood, I figure I'd share some of my favorite Anarchy Reigns related music via the YouTubes. I think this soundtrack is great. Definitely a contender for the end-of-the-year Sarumarine Awards.

Soon Enough by Sick YG - Oinkie's Theme

Jaw by muzeOne

Venom by muzeOne - Ai Rin's Theme

Here We Go by Theory Hazit

Testin' Me by Doujah Raze - Leo's Theme

Find You by Doujah Raze (Do you like ominous Latin chanting? I like ominous Latin chanting)

Fast Lane by Rushden and Diamonds

They Came From Underground by Rushden and Diamonds (This song is pretty goofy, but I like it)

It's All About Me by Bandy Leggz - Fei Rin's Theme (This song is such a guilty pleasure)

This is Madness by Dilated Peoples (I have respect anyone brave enough to title a song like this in a post-300 world)

I could keep going, but I'd list the entire soundtrack at that rate. You mileage may vary, of course. Anyway I'm off to lunch and then play some more Anarchy Reigns.

15 Comments

Let's Talk About: Anarchy Reigns

Originally I wanted to write this blog as a lead up to a game I've been looking forward to coming out in July. Anarchy Reigns from your friends and mine at Platinum Games has really caught my attention for a number of reasons. I would be lying if the original appeal had nothing to do with MadWorld that came out on the Wii. I've written a bit about that game before, but long story short, I liked it. The game wasn't perfect or anything, but it had a lot of entertaining quirks, a great voice cast, and an even better soundtrack. Not to mention the insane joy of Bayonetta from the same developer promised they would keep up the great work with Anarchy Reigns.

But as of 5-25-12, it's officially TBA for North America and Europe. It's still scheduled to release in Japan early July... but that doesn't help me any. So now I'm just going to use this post to talk about it and somehow take the edge off the indeterminate wait.

Anarchy Reigns (I'm Cautiously Optimistic)

Much like Matt Rorie's attitude toward movies, I never play a video game wanting to hate it. It would be better if everything was awesome so fun was easy to come by. But I really have no idea how well Anarchy Reigns is going to turn out. It certainly sounds good on paper. Most things do. From the multitude of YouTube videos I've watched, it seems like a cross between a fighting game and a beat em' up, with a little arena combat to make full use of pick ups and environmental hazards. One possible move involves hanging from the bottom of an attack helicopter and redirecting its missiles and nose gun to shoot enemies stuck on the ground. If a match takes long enough, they have critical threats appear in the form of submarine missile strikes, rampaging big rigs, monsters, and more to up the ante. Comparisons to Power Stone and jokes about a Platinum Games Smash Bros. game have already been made.

How it Plays (I Guess)

The most telling thing (to me, at least) about how this game plays is a few scattered videos of a training room where you can practice character specific combos like a fighting game. Bayonetta had something like this in the form of a loading screen where you had the option to press select and hang out to play with different weapon combinations. So far, the combos just seem to be button combinations. No quarter circles or stick movement. On top of that are the character specific "killer weapons" that do serious damage for a short amount of time and recharges through damage inflicted and received. Naturally these work into combos. It doesn't seem like a basic button masher a beat em' up format would suggest. This I can wrap my head around.

What I'm not sure is how it's going to work when you're running around a 3D plane and have to target specific enemies or opposing players. I hope it's a happy middle between MadWorld (the game's primary inspiration) and the tight controls of Bayonetta. I'm not big into multiplayer, but I can't fathom how they're going to pull off an eight player free-for-all and make it feel good. They do have other game modes in the form of the usual suspects, including a football (soccer) looking game, class based team battle, and capture the flag. Personally, I'm more interested in the survival mode, which is basically horde mode with three players. Co-op is more my cup of tea. But my concerns still stand in that mode too. This is why I try to remain cautiously optimistic.

An Interesting Crew of Killers

On a more positive note, the biggest thing going for Anarchy Reigns for me is the delightfully crazy cast that make up the sixteen (plus Bayonetta as DLC) playable psychopaths. The character reveals didn't really pick up until they introduced a man with a revolver in his cybernetic right leg who fired it when he kicked and kneed people. That's not to sell Jack Cayman, Black Baron and Mathilda short as returning familiar faces from MadWorld... but it only got better from there, so I'll make a quick list of my favorites.

Durga

I love the concept of this guy. Durga here has a giant revolver built into his cybernetic right leg. All of his voice acting so far makes him sound totally unhinged. It seems obvious they tried to take Adon's Jaguar Revolver and make it as literal as possible. He attacks with his legs exclusively, which makes it easy to work in his cannon when he kicks people.

Of course, it's a lot more fun to see him in motion.

Edgar Oinkie

Possibly to make up for the blatant tiger theme of Durga, they have the animal hodgepodge of Edgar Oinkie. As a... human... he wears a pig mask and makes light of his weight and size with karate moves and Sonic the Hedgehog style spin attacks. His killer weapon isn't so much a weapon, but a green drug that turns him into a lizard-ish mutant in a way that would make Bane proud in order to do some Fist of the North Star business. Did you get all that?

Considering Platinum has released a trailer for every character, I can't help but post a link to Edgar's, here.

Ai Rin

Something you might not know about me, is that I rather enjoy the time honored trend of making characters that blatantly reference Bruce Lee in video games. Ai Rin covers that base with electrified nunchaku and a great idle animation where she never keeps her feet still. Not to mention she makes plenty of appropriate noises when swinging her weapon around. She gets by in style in an outfit resembling Lee's Game of Death suit.

If you like funny Bruce Lee noises and lots of flashy movement, here's Ai Rin's intro video.

Garuda

The most obvious thing about Garuda is that he's a transforming jet robot. That automatically earns him a Starscream reference, if not Optimus Prime for his blue color scheme. But I like his design, not to mention his killer weapons are a mean pair of drills. Another thing is that he can throw two characters at the same time, due to his size. I don't know many games where characters have the ability to throw two people at once. That's pretty awesome.

Get your transforming jet, drills, and double-character throwing action here.

Mathilda

So Mathilda is actually a returning character from MadWorld. You may or may not remember her as the silent woman who demonstrated all the Bloodbath Challenges by killing the Black Baron in the process. Her role in Anarchy Reigns hasn't dulled her fondness for pain and spiked bats. It's great to have an opportunity to play as the woman behind the man. I find it surprising.

Her video has been out for a long time, but I'll link it here anyway just to be consistent.

I could probably list more, but I'll stop here and just say that there are more crazy characters. I can only hope they'll all be fun to play.

Tracks that Kill

If you haven't played MadWorld, the majority of the soundtrack (or all of it, I guess) was rap tailor made to address the characters and basic set up of the game. Anarchy Reigns continues the trend, and I couldn't be more excited. Even if the game somehow turns out to be total garbage, I can take solace that the soundtrack will turn out solid. I'm no connoisseur of rap or hip-hop. Most of my exposure is from the mainstream and a dash of lesser known stuff due to my roommates in college. But for the game and the style, there's really no better choice of genre. Most of rap nowadays is aggressive by nature, banking on rivalries and talking shit as part of the material. Is there any better music for a man driving a double chainsaw down someone's throat?

Still, I know how subjective music can be. If you really hate this kind of stuff or quality, I can understand that.

The official site for Platinum Games have released a few preview tracks that I wanted to share. And I don't mean to imply that I love all of it, but I do have my favorites.

This is Madness: - A more low key track compared to the others, but still nice. What? Sparta?

Testin' Me:- First heard in Leo's introduction trailer, it caught my attention immediately. I can't wait to hear the full version.

Play For Keeps:- A damn catchy song with some pretty good rhymes. Very upbeat for talking about winning at all costs.

Days of Old: - A full version of the Black Baron's theme. I love all the horns in the chorus.

Unknown Track: - This is a trailer for the various battle modes, but the song in the background is awesome. It might be the full version, but I'm not sure. I still felt like sharing it.

Hurry Up and Wait

So until Anarchy Reigns gets released, those are a few reasons why I'm still looking forward to it. I hope everything works out well. I hope it's fun. I would love to play as a man with a revolver in his mechanical leg and remember it fondly. Not sure how the story will work out, but I bet it will be deadly serious contrasted by the insanity of everything that happens during gameplay. And if I had to sell it to you... Bayonetta is going to be in it. That's pretty cool, right?

22 Comments

Guess That Quick Look: Full House Edition

Guess That Quick Look: Full House Edition

Giant Bomb's stockpile of quick looks grows by the day. So that means I can make more games that test your memory of notable lines from the Giant Bomb crew. It's a potpourri of games, one liners, and members of the site new and old, so let's get to it.

If you haven't seen the other topics I've made like this (which is understandable because I'm pretty irregular with this stuff), I am more than happy to remind you of the rules. I'll give you a notable line from Vinny, Brad, Jeff, Dave, etc. and you try to figure out what game they were Quick Looking when they said it. I will also provide a hint of varying helpfulness so you're not completely left in the dark.

But it's not a contest so don't sweat it. At the end I'll list the answers in a spoiler box. This is mostly just for fun and a creative way I can share some of my favorite Quick Looks with the Giant Bomb community at large. I'll even provide links if you want to relive the magic or see it for the very first time. So... drop a bomb on it and GLHB.

Full House Edition, Part 1

Quick Look Game V.3.1

Full House Edition, Part 2

Screaming Fridge Cam Man is site news editor Patrick Klepek and Happy Scribble Kid is site video editor Drew Scanlon

You've reached the end! Time for the results. Check them out in the spoiler box below. If you want to try your hand at more Quick Look guessing games, be sure to check out the beginning here, and/or Shoemaker Edition here.

9 Comments

Recently Played: Rhythm Heaven (DS)

I find myself fortunate for playing the very excellent Rhythm Heaven Fever before taking on its handheld counterpart, Rhythm Heaven on the DS. Unlike the console version, this game is rage inducing with some pretty clumsy touch controls that make keeping the rhythm a chore rather than a joy. I think it's important I set the tone right up front, because much like the Okamiden Recently Played, I don't know if I'll be able to complain about this game without coming off like an asshole or unrealistically angry. I'm certainly going to try, but I don't like my chances.

Rhythm Heaven on the DS only seems to know how to make rhythm totally aggravating. And that fucking sucks.

Rhythm Heaven (Feel Bad Nonsense with Music: The Game)

Yup... Built to Scale still sucks...

A long time ago I played a store demo of Rhythm Heaven that involved the very first mini-game Built to Scale. It was a frustrating experience that left me cold on the whole idea. At the same time, it was a store demo where I could hardly hear the music and had to hunch over a DS at a strange angle. Then a few months ago I played Fever on the Wii and had a blast, experiencing the very best of weird Japanese visuals and damn catchy songs where hitting one or two buttons at the right time was extremely satisfying. And I wanted more. Even with the content in Fever (and the damn hard Perfect challenges) I wanted to see some more Rhythm Heaven madness. Lucky for me the DS version had come out ages ago and was pretty cheap online. I was willing to give it another chance considering I had a better idea what this series was about.

Unfortunately, this is more of a lesson in knowing when to be satisfied. It doesn't help that Rhythm Heaven is pretty mean spirited and has a bad habit of throwing patterns at you that aren't covered in tutorial sections. One dickish remix starts out giving you a long sequence to match but then switches it in the middle of your turn to another game, guaranteeing you'll mess up the next part unless you already knew that was going to happen. Other remixes lack audio cues, ambushing you with the next game without proper set up. In many cases it has less to do with rhythm and more about knowing when the game is going to sucker punch you. Sure, Fever had its moments too. But it always messed with visuals and never screwed with the beat. I don't get that feeling for Rhythm Heaven. I just feel like the game is doing its best to make sure I don't have fun.

Flail to the Beat (Try Again!)

The biggest difference from Fever is that the only way to play this game is the stylus and the touch screen controls. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad if the only thing you did was tap to the beat, but there's also a flicking mechanic where you have to quickly slide the stylus across the screen. This is where Rhythm Heaven breaks for me. Flicking is a completely unreliable motion that ruins the vast majority of the mini-games. It gets used a lot, which is damning because I find it hard enough to concentrate on the beat (as this game can get fucking hard) and now I have to split my focus on this stupid flicking motion and pray to God the game finds it acceptable. It doesn't feel good, even when it works. Games like Rhythm Rally (where all you do is flick) or Big Rock Ending (which asks you to flick impossibly fast in a row) frustrate the shit out of me. Built to Scale, the very first mini-game, really sets the mood of using these motions and never getting a very good pay off from it. The best you get is someone screaming at the top of their lungs. Maybe a dolphin leaps out of the water. It's pretty underwhelming for this series.

Munchy Monk, Rhythm Heaven Savior

Gameplay works WAY better when all you do is tap (or hold) the screen to a beat. Munchy Monk 2 is the cream of the crop and it's a lot of fun to watch a dude gulp down dumplings like a speed eater. Freeze Frame is probably the most satisfying mini-game as you tap to take high speed photographs of crazy race cars. There is fun to be had in Rhythm Heaven when it isn't tripping over its controls. Not to say it doesn't figure out how to screw up tapping too. For that there's the Lockstep game. Not only does it require a ton of tapping, but it's also incredibly hard and feels like final boss material. So of course it gets Lockstep 2 just in case you were enjoying yourself or something. I remember Vinny describing this game on the Fever Quick Look. I was hoping that was just a Vinny thing, but he's totally right. It's especially fun when it shows up in remixes. What the fuck, Lockstep?

Highlights? Yeah... Highlights. We'll Go With That

The music in Rhythm Heaven doesn't feel very impressive overall. There are a few standouts, but the vast majority leaves something lacking. The visuals also don't feel nearly crazy enough to carry the music. This might have to do with the fact I played Fever first, or maybe it was drowned out in a sea of frustration and profanity. The songs with lyrics feel especially lethargic, but I have no idea of the technical hurdles of getting voice on a handheld. I'm impressed they bothered in the first place. Not to say it's all bad. I do love GBA and DS tunes if the Advance Wars series is any indication.

Awesome

Rhythm Hell

  • Lockstep
  • Rhythm Rally
  • Love Lizards
  • Love Lab
  • Built to Scale
  • ...and many others

Special shout out to Love Lab as the turning point where I started to realize just how frustrating this game was. It has this really bad shaking motion that often transitions right into a flick. The chances of pulling either of these motions off in time to the song is next to impossible. Triple that complication when it shows up in remixes. Crop Stomp has a similar problem. And I could go on and on. But I'll always have Munchy Monk. He'll always be awesome. He's this game's Ringside. Or would that make Ringside Rhythm Heaven Fever's Munchy Monk? Either way. Stand out mini-game.

No Such Thing as a Superb Medal

Rhythm Rally? Never Going to Happen. Never.

I used to think that Fever was unforgiving, but Rhythm Heaven sets the bar and cripples you in both legs. I had delusions about getting medals until I realized there are no superbs in this game. There are only perfects. To give an example, I missed one widget in the first game Built to Scale. One. And I got an "OK". It wasn't even the ending. Or a big transition. It was just some random widget before the game speeds up. The only real way to get medals is to miss nothing. Couple that with the flicking motions and I don't know how people could even attempt it. And perfects? Fucking forget it. Give me some damn buttons to press. Then we can talk about perfects.

I do wonder if I would be as hard on this game if I had not played Fever first. That's not something I can fix any time soon, but I suspect it would be the same in reverse. Whatever order you find Rhythm Heaven, it's saddled with pretty awful touch controls that are nowhere near accurate enough to match the insane standards of this series. Things need to be one or two button simple in order to enjoy the craziness going on or react to some of the tricks this game enjoys pulling on you. For the people who find touch controls no big deal... I don't know how you manage it. I feel like I'm beginning to understand the people who use keyboard and mouse and won't tolerate controllers under any circumstance.

And maybe I've made it sound like the worst game ever. I don't think it deserves that title... but it does leave a lot lacking. I do find it hard to recommend even if you're a fan of Rhythm Heaven in general.

Start the Conversation

Guess that Quick Look: Shoemaker Edition

Guess that Quick Look: Shoemaker Edition

Giant Bomb has done over a thousand Quick Looks, people. That's all kinds of incredible. Even more so that the vast majority of them are pretty damn entertaining as they show off a game or two. I know I'm a little late for celebratory topics commemorating four digits, but I still have to mention it for the purposes of this topic. How well do you remember your Quick Looks? Feel confident enough to name them from a one-liner or joke said by the Giant Bomb crew and friends? There's one way to find out.

This is the second Guess that Quick Look game (called Shoemaker Edition because I left Brad out of the first go around) and if you aren't familiar with the rules, I am more than happy to provide a refresher. I'll give a somewhat notable line from Jeff, Ryan, Vinny, Drew, etc. and you try to figure out the game featured in the Quick Look. I will also provide a hint for each one (of varying helpfulness) so you're not totally left in the dark.

And this isn't a contest, so don't sweat it. It's just for fun and just a way to share some of my favorite Quick Looks in a somewhat creative fashion while playing around with bad art programs. Answers will be provided in a spoiler box at the very end just in case you're totally stumped. Links will also be provided if you need a reminder or want to see it for the very first time. GLHB.

Shoemaker Edition, Part 1

Screaming Face Man is Will Smith from Tested.com

Shoemaker Edition, Part 2

You've reached the end. Pencils down.

Done? Got them all? Need results? Double check below. And thanks for playing along. If you missed the first Guess that Quick Look game and feel like catching up, check it out here.

8 Comments