Resident Evil 6 User Review by Guy with Barry Burton Avatar.

I decided to write this up a blog first because when I started, I couldn't actually post it as a user-review yet. Then I got so far in that even though I now can, I figured I'd still post this as a blog anywhoo! So.. hear it is. Also I'm hardly what you could call a talented writer, so just an FYI if anyone should bother reading this but hasn't read any of my previous user-reviews before.

Teehee

Oh boy. Where to even begin? I've been a fan of this franchise since the very beginning back in 1996; Resident Evil was my childhood, and the very original just so happened to be one of the first games that I played. I adored this stuff during the 90s and early oughts. However, once came Resident Evil 4, things changed. Now I'm not going to lambaste Resident Evil 4 as some evil mark of damnation--it's a great game by all means--but it's not why I personally came to this series; it's not why I was so stuck in from the moment I entered the Spencer Mansion.

Yet still I persevered! Then Resident Evil 5 came along and all that I hold dear within the series continued to slip away even further. I was losing more and more of what I enjoyed about Resident Evil, and still did I stand by its side. Like some abused housewife who couldn't bear to let go out of loyalty or something... And now we have Resident Evil 6. And now, I feel that I may have just reached my limit.

Resident Evil 6 is a shooter. There's no getting around it. The adventure elements of what was once an action/adventure series have now been squeezed out of the equation almost completely. There's a cover system, there's a down but not out system, there's set-pieces galore, and more than half of the game consists of you fighting against enemies who can shoot you back. But the hilarious and most depressing thing is Resident Evil 6 isn't even a very good shooter; after squandering so much in favour of a broader market, this is what I've been given in return? Now I'm not going to slam down on Resident Evil 6 at every turn, as there are certain elements that I thought were at least... creative. Like the story structure for starters.

Featuring not one, not two, and not even three but four campaigns, Resident Evil 6's story mode is vast. As is the cast of protagonists that make up the story as well: including the likes of Leon S. Kennedy and Chris Redfield canonically starring together in a Resident Evil game for the first time (though not as partners, I regret to say) along with ultra-mysterious femme fatale Ada Wong, and even the likes of Sherry Birkin returns since her last appearance all the way back in Resident Evil 2. It's not just old faces, however, as we have Secret Service agent and drop-kicking aficionado Helena Harper, B.S.A.A. sniper Piers Nivans, and buzzcut sporting badass mercenary Jake Muller. Oh, who is by the way the legitimate son of one Albert Wesker.

Leon's campaign is easily the best of the four.

The multitude of characters and their respective campaigns were supposed to allow Resident Evil 6 to have a little 'something' for everybody, though they really don't diverge quite as much as CAPCOM would have you believe. What separates them the most is what enemies you'll be facing; Leon's campaign sees the return of zombies, Chris' and Jake's has you doing battle against the J'avo--a B.O.W. shock trooper who sorta function as RE6's replacement for the Ganado/Majini--and Ada's will have you doing battle against both (not simultaneously, however) as her story progresses. Each of the campaign's are usually happening concurrently with another at that, and each cast of characters will inevitably meet up with the other. It's pretty cool to be playing through Leon's & Helena's campaign only to run into Chris & Piers, and then play through Chris' campaign and see that same scenario from the other side.

However, what all four campaigns suffer from is the over-abundance of terribly scripted set-pieces and an exhausting amount of quick time events. Even though the general combat isn't very satisfying on its own, the game really begins to drag once you're forced to just run towards the screen while the camera awkwardly transitions around you, or to play through some tame vehicular segments like riding a bike or a snowmobile - all of which are incredibly strict in what you can and cannot do, and mixed in with a lot of surprise QTE's will invariably force you to try most of them multiple times. They're not exciting nor thrilling in any way and it's just another swing and a miss for CAPCOM trying to turn Resident Evil into something so completely out of the realm of what the series used to be. There's even the occasional stealth segment in here that's like right out of something from the mid 90s. Oh, and underwater segments... Seriously. You couple that with the general design of levels having a slew of conveniently placed red barrels everywhere and Resident Evil 6 starts to look the kind of bad action game pulled right out of 90s twisted with some of the worst trends of the current generation. Almost like how Duke Nukem Forever is an amalgamation of everything that sucked about 90s first-person shooters but also with a modern day shooter weapon limit.

OK, so for a bit of positivity just to balance this out a bit more, Leon's campaign is... OK in spots. Intended to evoke 'nostalgia' for the Resident Evil 4 era, Leon's isn't quite as action-packed as his compatriots. In fact there's some pretty decent pacing during certain early portions of his campaign, and traversing through the lightning-covered skies of a graveyard, or attempting to survive along side a small group of survivors inside a gun store, made for some fitting scenarios. The majority of Leon's chapters situated within Tall Oaks overall have some great atmosphere, and the moment when you hit the zombie-infested streets and are greeted with fiery chaos made for an excellent thrill. Playing straight from Veteran mode, the zombies were surprisingly durable and actually left me panicking in some spots, and there were even some situations that ask of you to choose flight rather than fight.

However, issues such as how you can't shoot the 'corpses' on the floor that you just know are going to eventually wake up and attack (which they do) persist throughout. In fact there's a lot of really hokey attempts at 'scares', like how so often when you near a corpse laying up against a wall it will slump down on to the ground, or a section where you're trying to find the keys to start a car; it'd be pretty tense if there was some kind of fail-state to it, but no, you can literally just leave it there and it'll continue on in a loop. Leon's campaign also features the odd puzzle here and there, though they're laughably basic and don't really require much thought. Once Leon's travels takes him to China, it takes a complete nosedive with a significant increase in QTE-fueled set-pieces, eliminating the tone and style of the Tall Oaks sections.

The boss battles--most notably the final few nearing the end--are also horrendous, and not just in Leon's campaign but across the entire game, with very little feedback as to whether what you're doing is even working - punctuated by many who also have attacks that can come out of nowhere and completely empty your entire health bar. The camera is just far too close to the character mode as well, and as such can make trying to traverse through some of the more enclosed environments an absolute nightmare

Actually y'know what, this boss wasn't too bad.

Chris' and Jake's campaign is where it all really starts to fall apart, however. Posing as some sort of Gears clone, Chris' has you going against the J'avo, who basically function like brain-dead Lambent Drones. To start things off, the shooting isn't especially satisfying, and in fact with the added ability of melee attacks that you can now utilise whenever you like, you can often just run up to most enemies and start wailing on them. But the melee itself isn't incredibly intuitive either, and can be awfully sluggish sometimes leaving you kicking thin air as a J'avo walks past. You do have a stamina gauge that wears down with every melee attack so you can't be roundhouse kicking forever, but then you only need to fall back on your guns and tear right through everything. The J'avo have terrible AI, and even though much like the Ganado and Majini will go through some pretty disgusting transformations, for most of the mutations your tactics don't diverge too much and you need only just keep shooting. Or you could even just run past most of them.

There's also cover system in play, but it's cumbersome to perform; basically you just press L1 (which is also how you aim your weapon) and you'll automatically line up in cover if a wall's close enough... but you have to hold on to L1 while you're doing it. In some of the enclosed spaces during Chris' campaign there were many moments where I was fighting the terrible camera as much as the J'avo, as I accidentally kept taking cover when I just wanted to aim my gun. The cover system isn't even all that helpful, either. Because you basically shrug off bullets (up to a point, until you awkwardly fall to the ground) you can sometimes just charge in while the J'avo kinda flutter about looking all confused. There's also a dive you can do by pressing the cross button and a direction, but only while you're aiming first. Should you keep a hold of the aiming button after the dive, you can stay laying on your back and fire from there. It takes some getting used to, but it actually works well enough.

Jake's is more or less the same as Chris', though his features a tad more lame set-piece moments and isn't quite as plentiful in ammunition as Chris', promoting the idea for you to rely a little more heavily on melee attacks. Once you've completed the main three, you then unlock Ada's campaign, which mixes in a bit of everything; every shade of shit is on display for Ada's. Nah, that's a bit harsh. Ada easily takes 2nd place, and while by virtue of it being more Resident Evil 6, it isn't great, but there are some memorable moments here and there, and Chapter 4's boss battle in particular is legitimately kinda decent

RE6's failed attempt at recreating the intimidation of Nemesis

The story is incredibly bombastic as it spans multiple countries and ratchets up the amount of explosions tenfold. And while I can understand that many don't exactly hold much regard for any of the Resident Evil game's story, I have inevitably grown an attachment to the fiction and its cast. Unfortunately, a lot of it doesn't really pay off; despite portraying itself as a much more melancholic and serious tale in the marketing, there's just about as many corny one-liners and now a whole lot of slo-mo to rival a Michael Bay flick. Chris' story and his deteriorating mental state doesn't quite go as far as I'd have liked, either. I wanted more from these characters; I wanted Chris in particular to perhaps grow beyond being the typical 80s action hero Mary Sue. And there are certainly times where Chris is clearly thrown to the edge, but it's largely of no consequence. The voice acting is at least pretty decent, with Roger Craig Smith carrying on as Chris and Troy Baker nicely fitting in to the role of Jake perfectly.

While the overall story begins to make some sort of coherence once all of the four campaigns are behind you, there is a startling amount of history and backstory to the events that, instead of being given centre stage within the main game, are delegated to out-of-the-way files you can read in the ''Special Features'' section. Once you piece it all together, it's infinitely more fascinating (though it's still not that great mind you) and it's a crying shame that so much of the narrative is cordoned as text that can't even be found as memos or something across the main game.

Unlike Resident Evil 4 and 5, you're no longer buying weapons, and you'll instead find weapons as dictated by the campaign. And instead of upgrading them, now you purchase Skills which you can equip three at a time. They all have predictable buffs like increased firearm damage, increased defence, more ammunition drops and so forth. You can also set eight different combinations and then choose between mid-game to help you adapt. Though because the gameplay is so shallow anyway, I never found much incentive to experiment with different combinations nor do I have a drive to grind out chapters to afford better Skills.

Resident Evil 6 at least makes for a more accessible single player game than Resident Evil 5, however. Now your AI squad-mate is primarily there as a tag along for the story; there's no inventory management between characters, and your partner is invincible with infinite ammo. It's also surprisingly capable and can take down enemies efficiently enough while is also always there to help you up should when you fall into the 'dying' state.

Cooperative play is of course still available, though Ada's campaign is surprisingly enough a solo affair. Ordinarily, though, it's just two players. Until the stories coincide with one another that is. Now once two characters from one story meet up with another, you can then head into matchmaking and pair yourself with another two players to usually fight a boss battle or something. Which is at least a rather interesting twist for cooperative play, even if adding another two players to the mix doesn't make the shooting nor boss battles any less unsatisfying. There's also a lot more splitting up between partners this time around and more situations where each player takes on a different role; such as one character playing guardian angel to another ect. Though they don't always necessarily work. Nearing the end of Leon's, there's a boss battle where Leon is down below on a bridge whereas Helena is up top. Problem is there's not a whole lot of ammo there, and while the game is... 'generous' enough to continually respawn enemies to drop ammo whence killed for you, playing as Helena for that part was incredibly boring.

Frankly that's pretty much a decent way to sum up a lot of Resident Evil 6's gameplay - it's really boring. Generally mediocre at best and absolutely frustrating at its worst, playing Resident Evil 6 quickly became nothing but a chore. And while I wouldn't consider it an absolute mess, there was a point where I was piloting a fucking Jet and I asked myself: Is this really what Resident Evil has become? This is what it's all lead to?

As I stare at the screen after finally completing the entirety of Resident Evil 6, I'm given pause; it occurs to me that I actually feel really rather depressed about this outcome. Maybe it's because I know this is the end? Resident Evil 6 could very well be the finality of the series, and frankly it deserves better - much better. After 16 years of following and obsessing over this series, even when the reasons why I loved this series to begin with started to slowly dissipate, I must now face the possibility that Resident Evil ends not as any kind of survival horror game nor even as a fun action horror game, but as a boring and clumsy set-piece driven shooter.

119 Comments

Borderlands 2's story was... unexpected. *Thar be spoilers.*

Hurray! I've just completed Borderlands 2! It certainly took me a while, but I decided to take my time with it (even so much as creating an alt while I was in the middle of my first playthrough) doing just about every side quest available, spending like up to an hour at a time on the slot machines... and there's been plenty of occasions where I've left the game running when I've gone to do something else, so I've undoubtedly added a lot of padding to my overall playtime. But regardless of how much time was spent, that time was spent having a bloody lot of fun.

I mean it's true, Borderlands 2 is simply more Borderlands -- *Morederlands ect ect.* And as someone who absolutely adores Borderlands, I was plenty content in following the same waypoints everywhere and being spurned on by the ever attractive proposition of more stuff. The game's also really funny! Even if, yes, the challenge stuff is filled with a bunch of lazy callbacks to jokes from the mid naughts (oughts?) that weren't even all that funny to begin with. But a large majority of the writing surrounding the enemies you face, and not to mention the brilliant variety of side missions (Jack asking you to kill yourself; SHOOT HIM IN THE HEAD guy; And of course Mal, the hyperion robot who's going through a bit of an identity crisis) all completely overshadow the few still very poor memetic jokes you may encounter here and there.

There is one thing that felt... not so much out of place, but like it too was going through some sort of identity crisis; a transition to say the least. By which I of course mean the story. However, before I go any further, it still has to be applauded that it's actually a story. The first game was primarily just a bunch of quests filtered through goofy characters with a big ole MacGuffin snuggled in the middle. Borderlands 2 actually has a narrative. You're no longer permitted to just read through a wad of text per every quest, and Gearbox have certainly learned well from their time with stuff like General Knoxx and its stronger focus on storytelling. We now have what resembles an actual structure, a more prominent villain to put a 'face' too, and Holy Shit there's so much more dialogue in this game.

Just like havin' another Soldier on the field!

That one line of ad-libbed dialogue is pretty much all I had to define Roland during the first game--my main was Lilith, but I enjoyed the game enough that I eventually got around to giving 'em all a go--along with the rest of the cast. They were avatars more than actual characters, with a little splice of personality draped on top. And now.... now Roland never fucking shuts up! With all of his serious-face freedom fighting talk, it's a little jarring to see what were more or less one-dimensional characters to then... suddenly evolve to, well, two-dimensional characters. I guess it's also pretty cool. I mean I even created a thread on here stating the potential 'coolness' for such a path for the original vault hunters to follow. Though I was more so picturing them as trainers or cameos, not as essentially the leading protagonists of the entire plot.

Right, because once again our playable 'stars' aren't exactly the leading characters of this tale. In a weird twist of events, now the blank slates from the original are the one's talking up a storm at every turn while this new cast fill in the now vacant roles as yet another cast of vacant avatars for the player. And it's especially weird what with all of this added substance towards the narrative. Especially the whole Siren thing; Lilith's this uber-Siren and that's a pretty big deal, and yet me, as Maya, barely gets any recognition whatsoever. In fact in some cases my character is even referred to as a 'he', when I'm not being called as a Vault Hunter, Soldier or 'Slab'... God, that last one's annoying.

Steps have been made, though. The backstory ECHO tape you start off with, and can later scavenge more of, flesh out the playable cast more so than anything found in the original. They have a history, they actually have their own somewhat tangible reason for being here. But aside from some audio-logs, they're still just empty vessels for the player to inhabit and take up the role of.

Which I can certainly still understand mind you. If you were to play as an actual character with well defined motivations and moralities, such quest sets like setting up two gangs to murder each other simply for fun--which includes such ploys as killing the son of the gang leader so as to frame the opposing gang leader--would seem just a wee bit out of place... as is freeing a load of skags and stalkers from a Hyperion wildlife prison, only to actually kill a whole horde of 'em on your way. In fact nearly all of the side missions feel completely out of sync with the main story as it is anywhoo. Your character is a merciless monster, and while there's little characterisation for the new set of vault hunters, what is there doesn't quite set up someone like Maya for example as a mass-murdering mercenary. She clearly enjoys killing things (as does everyone on Pandora), but not to the extent of that gang war thing maybe. So expanding upon such a character would only cause more of dat ludo-narrative dissonance stuff, I guess.

Holy Shit sad things keeps happening!

As I've said, Borderlands 2 actually has a story, including some surprisingly dark chapters within. And not the humourous sort of ''teehee, bandit head goes boom!'' dark, but ''this is the moment where you're meant to feel really depressed now'' kind.

BloodWing, no! Roland, no!! Angel... fffffffffffff -- OK first off, I have to say that I personally found Handsome Jack to be an exceptionally effective villain. I mean I really hated this guy; I actually felt some twisted satisfaction after killing his equally psychotic and comically evil girlfriend (that Sheriff lady) or when I'd be knocking his statues throughout the city of Opportunity and he'd get all pissed off. Because goddamn, how... just... Handsome Jack is simply one of the most detestable and utterly evil characters I can recently recall (I know there are most likely more, but you get my point). But it's juxtaposed to such a degree. I mean one minute I'm shooting this guy in the face because he wants me to and I'm giggling about it for minutes after, and the next I'm enveloped in gut-ripping (OK, overselling it a little, I'll admit) emotion as Mordecai grieves over his bird. Hell, not just his bird, but my bird! My bird that I loved to throw at crazed psychos for an entire playthrough of Borderlands.

And then Roland, who, after the camera position has aligned itself up perfectly for 'someone's gonna die now', gets fucking smoked! Although y'know, I cared more for Bloodwing than I did Roland... Oh, and then there's the entire Angel segment. Now there's a twist to remember. EDIT: Also, how come Roland couldn't just be revived via the New-U machine? Did 'removing' his title as a Vault Hunter strip him of his reviving capabilities?... Y'know what, I'm willing to let that one slide for simplicities sake.

Now I'm not complaining about all of this mind you. I mean given that part my love for games like Saints Row 2 and Sleeping Dogs stems specifically for mixing in absurdity and human drama, it would be contradictive of me to suddenly shake my head in shame at Borderlands 2's own mixture. It's just with this calibre of storytelling being taken on, and Borderlands isn't quite the mindless skag slaughterhouse that it used to be, I'd want my character to join in on some of this development.

Borderworlds!

So besides the obvious fact that there's going to be some interplanetary travel happening in this theoretical sequel, what I'd also hope is they build upon your players characters to a degree not unlike Darksiders II or LOTR; War in the North So then you're clearly playing as pre-defined characters, but you still have the option to start up conversations and have the power to chime in on scenes. Converse with other characters beyond a one-sided to-do list.

Furthermore, each character could even have unique side-quests to attain. So say we have another freakshow like Salvador joining in, with all of the dialogue to prove it, such quests like the gang war one would still fit. Or not! Because I'd be more than happy to stomach some disconnect between my character and what the game is asking my character to do so long as my character is still a character. Character character character.

TL;DR Blurb!

Borderlands 2 is bitchin', and the narrative advancements they've built upon are were unexpected, but ultimately a welcome surprise. The way the game keeps connecting everything that happened in the original back to Borderlands 2 and Hyperion was also nicely done; it actually makes the original game feel more... substantial in retrospec, even though deep down we all know they only decided to work Hyperion into bloody everything during the writing of Borderlands 2. Revisiting T.K Baha's hut in particular was still surprisingly nostalgic, however, and even a little sad (but also funny) to hear about how his predicament came to be. I just hope that Gearbox will continue on up this slope and put forward the same amount of effort onto the next playable cast of whoever.

P.S!

The ending, along with the boss, was still a total wash. I just went through the same routine, using the same gun, shooting at The Warrior's glowy gut until it dived back under the lava. It barely ever attacked me and those volcano crystal monsters were hardly even noticeable. They put so much effort into making this thing such a powerful entity of absolute Absolutes.. they placed all of those ammo spawns and everything, and yet I barely had to move nor did I ever need to collect any additional ammo. The actual ending itself wasn't much better and pretty abrupt at that... but it done enough in at least setting the course for where the series may go from here. Still a great game, though, and I'm more than ready to head into NG+!

18 Comments

Multiplayer: Gears of War 3 vs Uncharted 3!

Uncharted 3 and Gears of War 3 are sort of kindred spirits, often put against one another because they're both cover-based shooters each exclusive to their own console. But as anyone who's played only an hours worth can tell you, the similarities are only skin deep and even then they're still pretty far apart. After playing a fair bit of multiplayer for both recently, the multiplayer is one such feature that more strikingly details the differences between the two games from a gameplay standpoint.

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Gears The Third!

I got into Gears relatively late, only at around 2009 when I also invested in a 360 - primarily for the exclusives, like Gears naturally. And I love this series! I love the shooting, I love the weapons, I love massacring the locust, I like the characters, and the 'roided up aesthetic of the Gears themselves look pretty awesome to me. They're like action figures! It was only very recently--literally like a couple of weeks ago from now--that I actually first played some Gears multiplayer via Gears of War 3, however. As you can imagine, I've spent a lot of my time getting completely pulverised from every which angle - most often the back, though a shotgun to the face is also very common. I've managed to play enough that I can hold my own... more or less. There are still times where I'm completely left there sitting in a pool of my own tears out of frustration, but there are times where I've even hit the top score of a match.

I played with a lot of bots for quite some time and I've always been reluctant to get me some GOLD to go against real players. But the bots are, well, fucking stupid as you may expect. Even on the 'insane' AI setting, I can easily cleave me way through 'em all. I was getting fed up and it simply wasn't satisfying anymore because I know that facing off against real players functions nothing like a bot match. Fortunately as luck would have it, my little brother happened to have a free month's worth of GOLD and opted to give it to me.

Even before heading online, I was able to grasp the mechanics pretty easily. I'm often able to get the active-reload bonus without fail and, unlike Uncharted 3, Gears 3 still primarily functions as a cover-based shooter. The overall feel of the game is also incredible! The idea that the Gears games control all sluggish and clunky is frankly a terrible misconception, most likely from people who haven't actually played the games. Trust me, Gears of War 3 moves fast! Roadie running, cover bouncing or whatever the Hell it is, rolling out of the way leading into a swift retreat - the best Gears of War 3 players play like a fucking machine. The controls overall are so tight, so responsive that rarely is it the game's fault that you now find yourself as a pile of gooey gibs lathered across the floor.

I usually die soon after, but boy is it ever worth it.

Because of said haste, however, the shotgun is also the most commonly used weapon. That's not some secret of the trade or anything of course; I imagine most people are well aware of the shotgun dominance that populates the Gears multiplayer. In fact there are a significant amount of players who will literally just charge around everywhere using nothing but the gnasher shotgun. And why wouldn't they? Should you ever manage to master the art of wall-bouncing or whatever the Hell, you can easily run right up to someone while they're shooting at you, barely taking any damage and BAM - your head's gone. What's more annoying than how an entire arsenal is sometimes discarded for just one weapon, though, is how I simply can't seem to compete at that level of shotgun proficiency. Now I don't strictly stick to my shotgun or anything, in fact I most often rely on my retro lancer, but naturally the shotgun is the go-to weapon for close-range combat and rushes. And I can, at times, even manage to nail me some lucky blindfire headshots and to even sneak up on an unsuspecting player and do to him/her what so many have done to me before hand.

Unfortunately, those shotgun duels that often erupt when it's you and another guy strafing around with a shotgun don't very often tend to go my way. Or whenever I'm bum rushed, there's a good chance that they'll swiftly be able to get in close without me barely getting a shot in in. I don't want to completely push myself into the mud here, though. I would say that I'm still OK at the game, despite my limited experience.

Because of how Gears 3's multiplayer is generally structured--cordoning your own segments of the map where the best weapons spawn by placing grenades and camping your ass down, actually using cover and flanking tactics to counter said cover, and not to mention how in TDM you have a limited set of lives--killing another player feels highly gratifying. And having the luck (because when it comes to shotgunning, that's really what a lot of it is down to for me) to potentially take on two at once can also make me feel like a bloody champion.

To actually reflect my own inexperience and sometime-reliance on luck, my Gear of choice is Benjamin Carmine - the best Carmine ;). As I've said earlier, retro lancer is my primary weapon and surprisingly enough it works for me favour quite a bit of time. When it's active-reloaded it can tear right through a player quicker than a shotgun if they can't get outta the way quick enough, and it's great for catching players off-guard and downing 'em without needing to snuggle right up into ass with the shotgun. Speaking of which, the gnasher shotgun is my shotty of course since the sawed-off doesn't seem worth it; its slow reload and single shot feature hinders what is otherwise a sort of redundant ability to kill anyone in close range with said single shot because the gnasher is frankly almost as effective within that range.

Anywhoo for the sake of such a substantial amount of text, I figure I should probably do a TL;DR edition to easily digest my pros and cons - in bullet points!

Pros:

  • Controls brilliantly.
  • Runs really smooth with little evidence of lag on my end.
  • Weapons still feel just as powerful in the multiplayer as they do during the campaign.
  • Great graphics.
  • Incredibly satisfying to snag yourself some kills because of the more reserved, slower-paced nature of some matches.
  • This could possibly be an isolated incident, but I've encountered no accounts of racism, bigotry and other headset garbage. There was one group of mates who were a buncha twats and would also revel in winning, but otherwise the horror stories of xbox live--via Gears 3 in any case--have been hidden from me thus far.
  • No perks, boosters, killstreaks or anything of the sort - just pure skill.
  • So much to unlock and so many achievements to strive for! Plus the amount of ribbons and medals make for some incentives to player differently - theoretically anyway. Unlocking a character skin by other means than simply levelling up is also highly satisfying. I admittedly played against bots to unlock me the Locust Sniper skin by getting 50 headshots mind you... >_>
  • Executing players is risky but worth the added humiliation you're bestowing onto your opponent.

Cons:

  • Shotguns, shotguns and more shotguns! The shotgun is the favoured weapon for the more advanced players and its disappointing to see an entire armoury of weapons often discarded in favour of just the one.
  • Shotguns are also hard to master.
  • No signal identification of when a grenade's been thrown your way. This transpires across the entire game, and while your character will call-out a grenade if it's nearby, it can be easy to miss and a visual identifier would make for a more reliable way of letting you know there's a frag that's just been hurled under your arse.

Overall I find Gears 3's multiplayer to be highly addictive and simply a lot of fun to play. Even when I'm doing pretty badly I'll stick around because I love the feel of the controls so much. The shotgun complaint is a significant complaint, though. I'm very excited to join in once Judgment is released as well, so I can actually feel like I'll be on some even ground fighting against the flock of newbies that'll invariably join in.

Anywhoo if anyone ever wants to play, my gamertag is DayLiam. I'm much better at the coop stuff, naturally, but if you don't mind potentially dragging along dead weight, then I'm all for playing some competitive as well! Unfortunately that month only has about... I dunno, maybe a week or two left? I might buy me a subscription card sometime down the line in any case.

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Uncharted Trois!

Unlike Gears, I actually have a lot of experience with the Uncharted games. I bought Uncharted 2 day-one and I think after my first completion (out of I think six) of the campaign, I would drift in and out of the multiplayer. During this time I had a posse I formed up through Gamespot. A lot of good times, greats even and it felt nice to be apart of a community. There was only around 5-6 of us mind you. One such, who's a user on here actually but doesn't use her profile anymore, I played a lot with. We even beat through the cooperative adventure levels with just the two of us! I put in a lot of time with my little brother as well; we had loads of fun just messing around with the cinema mode, looking for goofy pictures to take.

Ah, the memories.

In any case, I played a lot of Uncharted 2. I first started off with the open beta and played till the end; then the full game arrived and, like I said, I played a lot. I was there to celebrate through the Thanksgiving holiday bonus and the Christmas bonus, and overall I accumulated something like, I dunno, maybe 100 or so hours in total. Which probably doesn't sound a lot to, say, the people who have put in literally 1000+ hours in TF2, but for me who never sticks with an online multiplayer component for that long, it definitely felt like I planted my feet in deep.

I especially liked the Ranked mode, as it gave you a separate rank besides your own overall rank that designated your skill; from 1 to 50, which would rise and lower depending on how well you done in matches. I was able to stay stuck to 50, if the high 40s, for a good long while during my stay. I eventually moved on, about the time the Siege DLC was released. I wasn't playing with my old Gamespot crew during this point either, so I fell out after playing on my own for so long. Eventually once i got a stronger foothold in the GB community, I tagged with a lot of other like-minded folk and from there we had our own GB Uncharted gaming nights, helmed by X19. It was a lot of fun, though the long hiatus meant that I was rusty. The fact that a lot of the more casual goers left also resulted in me often facing against the people who were significantly more dedicated to getting good at the game than I was. I was still alright, but I was no longer cleaning house like during the first few months.

Eventually Uncharted 3 arrived. Well, first there was the two beta's, and the first one during summer I was an absolute King at because of my overall experience with the game. Once the full Uncharted 3 came along, I actually headed into the multiplayer after only playing through about halfway of the campaign. That was primarily because, well, I'm really not a fan of Uncharted 3's campaign. But to a lesser extent I was also super excited to play more Uncharted 3 multiplayer!

In any case Uncharted 3's multiplayer is... different from Uncharted 2's in some areas, but it's largely the same sort of deal just expanded upon. Sprinting, automatic ammo pickup, a more diverse set of Boosters (perks) and now introducing Kickbacks (killstreaks... sorta), weapon MODS, cosmetic customisation options and so forth.

Once again I rallied alongside the small squadron of like-minded GB'rs and we regularly played ourselves some Uncharted 3! I've had a lot of fun with Uncharted across the hours, which according to my time stamp is a significantly lower number than the time spent in Uncharted 2. The competitive side of things leaves me only around 24 hours in fact, less than a quarter of my time spent in Uncharted 2. That would probably be because while Uncharted 3 made a myriad of improvements to Uncharted 2, there was still a lot of inherent jankiness to suffer through and, after playing through some very recently (which inspired this very blog), still persists.

I only have Uncharted 2 pictures on here... so take a gander at this paradox of 'Uncharted 2' Drake diving face first into 'Drake's Fortune' Drake's armpit.

For starters, unlike Gears 3, playing Uncharted 3's multiplayer as a cover-based shooter rarely works. In fact the multiplayer mostly adheres to the exact opposite approach, with most players--admittedly including myself--rolling along much like it's a run n gunner. The added sprint option allows you to better travel throughout the arenas, and the added verticality and overall openness of the maps means that taking cover often doesn't provide you with a lot of actual cover. Because of the relatively large diversity of customisation when put against Gears, it allows a lot more variety in playstyles, as well as for the balance to go completely whacked. For a time, such weapons like the FAL-SS were insanely overpowered against other such ilk, and unlike Gears were everyone is mostly in even ground, a low level player stuck with an AK regardless of experience (after Uncharted 3's prestige equivalent for example) will clearly be at a hefty disadvantage against someone using the Level 50 unlockable Fal weapon with a level 3 fleet-foot booster - which allows players to more hastily move around while aiming.

Many a patch has been released to continuously tweak this and poke at that by the ever gracious Naughty Dog, but other problems still arise. For starters, despite the sort of impression the franchise has generally put forward, Uncharted 3 is a significantly clunkier game than Gears 3. Gears 3's controls are damn near pitch-perfect I tell you, whereas Uncharted 3's, while it may feature quicker animations, is much slipperier and less precise. Many a time would you find yourself stuck against a wall when trying to move about, or accidentally jumping against a wall when you're trying to latch onto the edge. The platforming elements ported over from the single-player is still a great feature and one such style of gameplay that helps Uncharted 2/3's multiplayer stand out amongst the crowd. But it comes at a price as you're forced to put up with some squirrelly controls.

Because of the fast pace of the game and the map design of most levels, what generally tends to happen a lot is while you're currently engaged with one player, another one is usually able to quickly arrive soon after and finish you off should you win. Sure, this is a common strategy for many multiplayer games, but with Gears 3 and the fact that you often always have a shotgun at hand, it often feels like there's more chance for you to survive an ambush by another player. Whereas in Uncharted you can very easily become overwhelmed and no matter how hard you press down that sprint button will have to inevitably find yourself downed.

What is most unfortunate, however, is the lag. Whereas Gears 3 mostly plays like a dream from a net perspective, Uncharted 3 is more so unpredictable. My connection is OK at 20Mbps, but lag is still prominent enough to cause the occasional outrage. Stuff like players taking an inordinate amount of bullets to take down, grenades that will explode almost instantaneously when thrown, dying a second later after escaping a chasing player, melee attacks which sometimes won't register--and in fact close-quarters combat is a total mess regardless of lag to be perfectly honest. It goes without saying that lag is prominent across most facets of online games, but in Uncharted 3 there is a significant number of Mexican players--who are so proud of their native lands they all often like to label their 4-character clan tags as MEX--who will have a completely empty connection bar. It can't be helped, but such prominence still stands out and can make playing the game a complete piss take at times.

Ole chum Sezzilla was kind enough to make this for me because of my attachment to the Sark skin in Uncharted 2! Though I came up with the caption x)))))

Now I notice I've been rather negative overall concerning Uncharted here, which I don't mean to be! In fact, ironically enough, I think Uncharted 3's multiplayer is probably easier to get into than Gears 3. Because of the often chaotic nature of matches, they can sometimes go one way or another, and levelling up via the coop stages can help if a player should simply want to hit the level where they're more comfortable with their arsenal and array of boosters & kickbacks You're still getting to play and listen to the humorous quips of the ever likeable Uncharted cast as well. For myself, I've long primarily stuck to playing as Sully on the heroes side--orange shirt Sully at that--rockin' a fedora. Though on the side of the villains I'm kinda all over the place

The gunplay is still pretty solid and while the variety of boosters and kickbacks sometimes completely shit all over anything to do with balance, they can also make for a more colourful series of matches. Though unfortunately, we're at the point where quick-boom and RPG!! are the most common kickbacks to be equipped. Trying to occasionaly run away from a horde of insta-kill spiders can also be a right bastard, but it still makes for a hilarious scenario as you're just bailing right outta there screaming for your life.

And this Uncharted segment is long enough that even I can now sympathise with anyone who wants to give it a miss... So, TL;DR DIGESTIVE ENGAGE:

Pros:

  • Fun cast of characters to play as.
  • Verticality adds an interesting dynamic to the competitive gameplay.
  • Shooting is still fun enough to lead into addicting all-day multiplayer marathons.
  • Great amount of customisation.
  • Dedicated support by Naughty Dog.
  • Comparatively easy to get into against Gears of War 3.
  • Taunts! And many many more with this new series of patches and free DLC! Want to have Katherine Marlowe perform a 'Hillbilly Shuffle' over your latest kill? Uncharted 3 got what yo need!

Cons:

  • Slippery movement and platforming that isn't as precise as you'd probably like. Remember those missed jumps you may have unfortunately succumbed to during the campaign? Annoying, right? Well imagine falling prey to one of those in a multiplayer match.
  • The aforementioned customisation also invariably leads to unbalance. There's a Hardcore mode that cuts off all of the peripheral bonuses, but it's only for TDM.
  • The open, labyrinthine nature of the maps leads to a lot of scattered chaos.
  • Laggy players are a noticeable issue that has plagued my playtime for a long while now, which is more so a nuisance after playing a series of stable matches for Gears 3.
  • Multiplayer graphics are somewhat sub-par when compared to the campaign. The maps look fine, but some of the character models--especially the faces--are poorly textured; Charlie Cutter's MP character looks like a cocaine fiend.
  • Spawn locations can be a little busted; you also don't receive any temporary immunity when you return into the match like in Gears, so occurrences of spawning on top of a live grenade or to be blindfired + melee hit as soon as you run around the corner can happen.

I hadn't played Uncharted 3 in a fair few months, but the latest patch--which is one of the largest I've seen for a console game--egged me on as an excuse to head back in. Things still mostly play the same, and it's been so long that it's a struggle to actually pin-point the differences. My heart & soul, the G-Mal, has a heavier bit 'o recoil, but otherwise I eased in and experienced all of what I loved and loathed about Uncharted 3's multiplayer. I'm more than likely still going to head back in every so often as well, so once again feel free to add me!

PSN-ID be Yummylee.

Despite the title, I'm not here to hand out a verdict as to which is insurmountably better. They both of course have their own set of pluses and negatives. Gears 3 is a much more methodical sort of game, where your decisions within the battlefield and supporting your team stands for more than simply being a good shot--though that doesn't hurt, either How you choose to manoeuvre throughout the environment is a notably key factor as well, and while the same can be said for Uncharted 3, Uncharted 3 is tougher in setting up an escape plan. On the other hand, Uncharted 3 is more ripe for simply screwing about and having some immature fun.

Because Gears of War 3 is a more prominent ringer within the tournament scene, there's less chance you'll encounter equally minded players who play for the goofiness of the game and instead will be pulverised by people who want nothing more than to win. However, Gears of War 3 is possibly a more gratifying game to excel at in spite of this; because of its strict style of play, it feels invigorating to rank yourself high up on the match leaderboard. I'm currently still enjoying them both, but once Judgment arrives, I think that may act as the deciding factor as to whether I will move onto the Gears style of gameplay for my TPS competitive urges, or whether I'll stay stuck in with Uncharted 3 as I carry on enjoying kicking players off ledges and sneaking up behind fellows and snapping their necks - ninja styaaal.

13 Comments

Oh God Why: MGS3 and how it makes my heart bleed.

Why! Why must the times be so cruel! And I'm not referring to the stupid silly delay the MGS HD collection underwent (which was still silly stupid), but for how my own tolerance for video games must move forward so fast. To put it bluntly, I don't think MGS3 has aged well at all. And it's killing me inside with a serrated blade... dipped in poison, while on fire, and I'm being force-fed laxatives giving me violent diarrhoea in the process.

MGS3 was one of my favourite games on the ps2; hell, it may well be one of my favourite games of all time. But after playing through it very recently, it comes across as unapologetically clunky and cumbersome. The shooting controls are hard to adapt to after so many improvements made across the years, not being able to move while crouching is pure insanity, and the camo and how it'll quickly dart down to 30% just as your elbow touches a speck of a different texture causing you to be spotted from a guy 50 miles away is ever so frustrating. To be fair, I remember that it all gets much easier to bear once I unlocked the ''Snake'' camo for beating down The Boss' stamina gauge, but I'm still going to have to complete the game to get to that point.

What also strikes me as dated, even by the game's original release standards, was how you couldn't just drop grenades when you're trying to escape from American accented Russians. So you're spotted right, and you'd imagine you could just drop a stun grenade on your current position and POOF like Batman or some shit. But instead, Snake has to pause on the spot and then do a small underarm throw; even when you're in the midst of running away, he'll stop on the fucking spot just to then girly-throw a grenade--seriously, Snake has a really poor throwing arm even when you hold the button in! What's crazy is that you could totally utilise such a tactic in the very first MGS! I can distinctly remember doing as such when I'm running up/down the towers before the Hind-D boss battle, with all of the gun-cameras scattered about.

The way the controls reverse or go completely sideways when you're up against a wall and attempt to move the camera around, forcing you to either accidentally get off the wall, or begin to shimmy, or even fall off if you're shimmying against a cliff-side or something is another bullet-point to add to my ever increasing rage! The way you're not able to maybe look down off the edge of a small hilltop or hill that you're crawling across, or drop a grenade on the guy who may be right below you is an another example.

And it's not like the game is too difficult or anything; it's just that we all want to play stealth games right. We don't want to get spotted and then be forced into some clunky shooting scenarios, especially since when you're in alert status, your camo stands for shit all. I mean even if you're out of sight but the alert phase is going, they will still know exactly where you are regardless of whether your camo index hits -9000% or 95%.

Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with me being impatient or lacking the focus to meticulously crawl everywhere. But there's a lot of overt clunkiness across every facet of the stealth gameplay that it often comes down to you being spotted because of the game's own clumsy mechanics. It's commendable that the game has such complex potential within, and MGS3 definitely made a heap of impressive improvements to its own formula, but the gameplay elements aren't able to match the complexity and give you the right amount of efficiency to tackle the stealth scenarios. There are far too many barriers created through the screwy gameplay that are then placed over the barriers implemented through MGS3's own design choices - it all starts to feel almost overwhelming.

Back when I first played it, I'm sure I went through some similar frustrations, but washed 'em off for the sake of everything else. The hunting mechanic is still really well done and unique, listening to 40 minute codec calls are still almost therapeutic, the writing is solid, the voice-acting is still a good blend of self-seriousness and goofiness, the cutscenes are still grand to watch (though the lip syncing is really poor), the boss battles are still inventive and fun, the soundtrack is still the goddamn MGS3 soundtrack, the ingenuity like the Sorrow & End (among many other things) boss battles are still ingenious (or I'd like to think... haven't actually gotten that far yet), and the story is easily my favourite of the lot. A lot of those specific aspects fortunately still manage to impress.

However, even if the increased dependence on age-old gadgets that have limited battery power, silencers that deteriorate, and your radar being replaced with your own cunning and self-awareness was a massive leap over MGS2's comparatively simple mechanics, those simple mechanics still make for a more satisfying stealth game because I felt like I was on even ground; I didn't often have to fight against a myriad of gameplay goofs alongside the overall increased complexity and resulting difficulty. For MGS3 I feel like I spend half of my playtime downing fake-death pills so I can just restart the whole area - all because of one small mistake leading into complete and utter chaos

Of course this sort of reaction is nothing new; nostalgia is both a loving and deceptive mistress, who likes to keep your memories warm and fuzzy, long hidden from reality. The same reality you are also ill-prepared to face. But.... it's Metal Gear Solid 3! How can this happen to me!? Why must this happen to me?! Is it because I touch myself at night?!?

Honestly, I think MGS3 was ahead of its time. It had the innovation, it had the ideas, it executed on some of those ideas, but didn't have the current tech nor the current mindset that would have really helped it flourish. MGS4 made innumerable incremental improvements, but it still can't top MGS3 as a whole for me for many, many reasons that I can't entirely be bothered getting into. But if MGS3 was to be re-released with MGS4's controls and added improvements, then it could very well match the memories I used to have of MGS3 prior to this horrifying realisation.

It's basically just like The Boss herself said and how everything is dictated by the times. /pseudo-intellectualism

Will I ever even return to MGS3 again? I'm at least still banking on the idea that once I get the 'Snake' camo, everything's going to be alright better, since it consistently stays within around 80% regardless of the terrain. But even still, I'm currently just not having a lot of fun. And again, it's an awful lot of me taking my sweet time tranquillising everyone, only to then have my master plan foiled because peeking your camouflaged head from behind a piece of cover will apparently always destroy any and all attempts to blend in - full stop. I mean seriously, no exceptions? It has to always drain down to a staggering 0%?

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PS: The original Devil May Cry sucks to play now, too. But DMC3 is still as fun and addictive as ever, so it's all good in that department.

27 Comments

Feast movie review.

I don't usually do this (review films or post user-reviews in a blog), but after re-watching the sublime 2005 monster schlock that is Feast... I dunno, I just had the urge to gush out the enjoyment I had. And considering the state screened.com has unfortunately found itself in (though I've still posted it on there anywhoo), I decided to post it on here. As a blog, rather than sticking them on my status par the course. Which already feels somewhat egotistical and like I've now opened up the flood gates for all sorts of rampant criticism and belittlement and the tears and--OK, well first things first. I'm not a very good writer, and I'm not exactly aspiring to be one either. I just enjoy writing up user-reviews as a way to better contain my thoughts, and should people read or even recommend (which I have an astonishing amount for my GB user-reviews for some reason), then all the better!

In any case, TL;DR for Feast: It's pretty good, you should watch it sometime. Why? Because...
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Feast is a monster movie; it's a ''one crazy night'' movie; it's also nothing that exactly pushes forward either of the sub-genres. But at the same time, Feast manages to turn certain conventions on its head and will keep even genre die-hards guessing as to who and when certain characters will have their entrails ripped out. It's almost like a comical documentary about our conceptions of the 'horror movie cast', but one that is made well within the bounds of what it is commentating towards.

Directed by John Gulager, who has continued on with two sequels--which I haven't seen yet, but considering the highs Feast manages to reach, it can only go down?--Feast pays homage to many of the typical cliches and tropes found within this sort of movie, and... doesn't exactly parody said tropes and cliches, but rather twists them around in a humorous fashion. This is a movie that is self-aware--featuring many winks and even a few nods here and there--yet conventional, and is a completely competent, no great, ''one crazy night staving off a horde of monsters'', movie.

The story begins paying host to the cast of archetypes (I mean that quite literally; all characters are under a specific title such as ''Hero'' and ''Beer Guy''), creatively pausing the scene to give a brief run-down of a character, complete with a fun-fact and an estimate on how long they'll live. But the estimates are... pretty unreliable, to say the least. The best part of the movie is forever knowing that anyone can die (well, not literally, but you get the drift). And die people do, in appropriately gory fashion.

COME AT ME BRO

The plot is wafer-thin, but it's nonetheless an awesome premise and one that is executed well here. Basically set around a small tavern in the middle of nowhere, monsters seemingly appear from wherever and begin an assault on the tavern, all just so they can fill up their tummy tum tum. And that's quite literally it; windows will be boarded, barricades will be built, and cleavage will be on display. What works is the details; alongside the brilliant introduction, the writing is rather witty across its 86 minute running down, and the direction does a fine job in eliciting both laughs, scares, tension, and even sorrow when the movie occasionally calls for it. Gulager is perhaps a little too liberal with his use of the shaky cam during the most hectic scenarios, but that doesn't get in the way of pouring the gore to the top of the glass. One moment where a poor soul loses an eye definitely stood out.

The acting is about on-par with the writing, and while this isn't exactly the kind of movie that demands much, the sharp writing goes hand in hand with a largely competent set of players, including Judah Friedlander as Judah Friedlander, Henry Rollins as a pretty funny motivational speaker called ''Coach'', and Balthazar (seriously) Getty as the poster-boy redneck, ''Bozo''.

The overall pacing is pretty tight, never letting the movie linger for too long without moving onto something blood-filled or crazy. And even when it does linger, the characters and the dialogue are so enjoyable that I was perfectly fine with actually getting to know these people. The 'creatures' themselves are largely generic, however, but the kills they'll commit and those teeth do enough to let you know they're to be feared. Though again, Feast perhaps falls back onto the shaky cam (while clearly in play because of the budget) just a wee too much. Things don't become outright disorientating like the worst offenders, but other tricks such as clever camera angles, shadows or something could of been put to better use to help keep the monsters fearsome while still avoiding to put them in any full body shots. Regardless, Feast's sole environment manages to look pretty good, most notably when the Tavern's power runs out and the backup generator dips the place into an orange hue. The moment when the sun begins to beam through the windows was well done too, giving the impression that God himself was welcoming the survivors into his embrace right out of the Hell they endured. Cliched as the metaphorical Hell they were stuck in, but damn did it still feel gratifying, like I myself could almost feel the radiating warmth.

Feast is a simple movie within a relatively simple sub-genre, but what makes it impressive is for how different it still felt as I was watching it. It's without a doubt one of the better monster movies you can find coming from this century, and despite the budget, Gulager manages to display a surprising degree of quality against the still strong quantity of blood and guts. Tasty.

...my companion pic for the score.

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Also I recently watched 'Seconds Apart' too (gone on a blu-ray binge, buying all kinds of horror movies), which is rubbish. Oh, and 'A Tale of Two Sisters', which was... pretty good, but I'm not in the camp who appear to adore that movie. There was only one truly scary scene, and it fell back on the asian-horror mother of all cliches with a woman whose face is completely covered up by her long, dark hair. The psychological part was great at least; I loved the performance of the step-mother too, especially the dinner scene when she's recalling a 'funny' story. I dunno what it is, though... I feel like it may be one of those movies that I'll appreciate more once I re-watch it down the line.

4 Comments

Buyer's Remorse - She Burns!

I was relatively optimistic towards Amalur for a while after hearing about how it's meant to be an Elder Scrolls-ish RPG with ''God of War'' like combat. The trailers enticed me all the more, and even the demo left me feeling cautiously positive. But then... I dunno... after around 5 hours of playing (on Friday... mostly been playing Gears 3 instead) my stomach gradually began to sink as I couldn't help but notice how damn dated this thing is across its entirety.

I mean, I understand they weren't aiming to actually make a new Elder Scrolls, but the world is so terribly static (the taverns in particular are so depressingly inanimate and empty), the character models are so poorly detailed--often paired with equally terrifying and hilarious facial and mid-dialogue animations--you'll often encounter people who look just like your own character (thanks in no small part to the relative simplicity of the character creator and the shallow selection of races--basically two human races and 2 elves), and the ''world'' from what I can tell is basically made up of a lot of pretty corridors with towns in the middle. And some instanced off dungeons.

And your character.. now I don't hold any grudges against silent protagonists (even if they are becoming tougher to tolerate as the years go by), but it's the fact that they don't allow you to birth some sort of personality via the dialogue options you can choose your character to say that I vehemently dislike, which leaves the protagonist as the emptiest of slates with but an occasional blink just to prove that your character is in fact alive during conversations. At least Link actually animates, and games like Dragon Age: Origins had some brilliantly clever/humorous dialogue options for you choose from to build an identity. Your own race doesn't even factor into things either far as I can tell; having some bartender telling me not to worry about the upstairs healer because she's some... dark elf, or whatever stupid name they needlessly conjured up to make their world appear more unique, when I myself am also a dark elf just ripped me out of believing my character was actually somebody rather than just a player avatar.

Oh, and the combat isn't even all that good! It can be pretty satisfying to swing my massive flaming hammer around, but the combat is nowhere near as deep as I was hoping. You can't even bloody jump! Playing on hard mode, the game is also pretty frustrating... because of how easy it is! For a lot of battles, all I quite literally do is smash the square button over and over. Sure, there'll be sub boss battles that provide some opposition, but otherwise against all the random mobs, and even some of the humanoid boss battles who'll flinch after every attack, I can just rest and mash the square button and I'm sorted. Then there's nagging issues like why can I only do special stealth kills with daggers? Or why must my bow take up my second weapon spot when I'm naturally going to want to have a bow equipped anyway. If they really wanted to allow a little more combat puzzazz, they should of given you a third spot solely for a ranged weapon; that way you could have two melee weapon spots to mix up your attacks and not have to sacrifice a ranged weapon--or be forced to continually change your secondary weapon. Oh, and the way your shield just appears is silly, and it specifically irks me because I often like to see my character with his shield equipped too. For a game that's all about making your character look awesome, it's surprising that they passed over the tick box about allowing my character to strut around with a sword 'n' shield like a baws.

The cartoony style I do like, though, as I do the Destiny system - which is probably the only shining beacon of creativity the game showcases. And to be fair, I've only played a small amount thus far... but after looking over the ''moves'' list, there's really not that much else to look forward to as regards to expanding my attack patterns. If the game stays as easy as it has thus far as well then I won't even need to use any ''tactics'' besides ole faithful.

The world is just so bloody boring and it leaves me with little desire to learn more; and these days it also takes just a little more than some ''loot lust'' to push me further--especially when the game's this easy, when a green weapon is already all I need to do the job swiftly.. Frankly, the entire game feels like its sole purpose was to act as the precursor for the MMO; it'll set up the lore and the races and what have you, and then they begin with the real game. I mean seriously, how can a game with this many huge names tagged to the development evidently suffer from what looks have been a fairly low budget?

Maybe the game does hold some surprises down the line, though; maybe it'll eventually rise to be a game I'll at least finish. But as of now, it's left me with a soul crushingly bad first-impression and the mere thought of heading back in doesn't exactly have me tearing with excitement. It's overall shallow, derivative to a frightening degree and something I really wish I hadn't put £38 towards. On the bright side, Gears 3 is pretty fucking awesome. Really dislike the submarine and end boss segments, though. But otherwise, its 5 stars is well deserved.

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TL;DR

God Dammit

123 Comments

Final few Ezio segments felt really rushed. *spoilerific!*

Just completed Brotherhood and OMGWTFBBQ ect ect. An overall fantastic game and one I wish I played through sooner; it would have no doubt ranked on my top 10 for that year had I played through it then and shared my enthusiasm as much as I do now for the game.

It's weird because I really liked my time with Brotherhood's campaign, a fair amount more than with AC2, and I never really understood why. I've always been a distant appreciator for the AC series, always acknowledging that it's a solid series, but never having any strong devotion towards it. I despised the first AC, but even then I could see its merit. Even with Brotherhood, I still find the platforming to be really finicky sometimes and the stealth is pretty undeveloped. I mean the guards I noticed are complete, fucking nimrods with what appears to be zero peripheral vision. But they kinda have to be, given how little in the way of abilities you have to stealth around as you do. Also chase missions suck, as do missions where you have to tail people.

Even still, Brotherhood, for whatever reason, clicked a lot more so with me than its predecessor; where as for AC2, I kinda just wanted the campaign to end as it was closing, for Brotherhood I just wish there was more. The addition of the Brotherhood is a great new feature, if a shallow one, but that's still not quite what I'd say won me over completely. Maybe now I've just grown a new found fondess for AC just because... AC is the kind of series I'm apparently in the mood for right now, I guess.

But yeah, the reason for the title... well, it speaks for itself. Brotherhood is a brilliant single player game with a simply staggering amount of stuff to do (the Leonardo death-machine missions were probably my favourite parts of the game - that along with the Romulus parkour missions), but once you receive the apple, the final few missions as Ezio seemingly blend together kinda haphazardly. Things move at a surprising haste, which goes against the otherwise methodical pace of knocking down Cesare one peg at a time. I mean when the game just quickly shifts to the middle of some climatic battle right out of nowhere, it definitely felt like the game just wanted to get Ezio out of the way so it could move on to the Desmond and all the mind-fuckery. An otherwise low point on a brilliantly paced story.

Which said mindfuckery, from my assumptions, is meant to lead you to believing that Desmond is the kinda/sorta reincarnation of ''Adam''? Or to essentially take up the role of ''Adam'' anywhoo. And this Juno wants him to reawaken this 6th sense and along with his ''Eve'', they are to start a new race of humans where we all have this 6th sense? Naturally I'm a little late for all the speculation revolving around Brotherhood's ending, what with the sequel here and all, but I wanted to put that there anywhoo so people can throw my speculation back into my face and rebutal with cold hard FACTS! Also please don't, since I actually now really want to play through Revelations, even though I'm aware that the story is meant to be one of the most disappointing aspects because it doesn't really push the overall arc very forward.

Also on the topic of AC, is Ezio possibly one of the most developed characters amongst video-gaming?! I mean holy shit, you don't half spend a deal of time with the man. Playing through those flashback missions in particular opened my eyes to how much Ezio has grown across the years (Roger Craig Smith reverting to his lighter voice for the younger, more brash Ezio was a great touch to illustrate that fact), and how we have actually been there for the majority of it. We were there for when he was born! And now with Revelations, we're going to be at his side for what I assume will be his final moments, if not the moments leading up to it. Watching him mature to the cool and calculated badass that he be is an arc you don't see that many of across a franchise - or at least with this much breadth.

Anywhoo I've rambled on about AC so much now that I might as well turn this into a blog... yeah, I think I'll do that.

11 Comments

Abyssfull's fuel for the fire: Top 10'ingtons of 2011.

Since I noticed people are emptying their GOTY guts via blog form, I figured that my ''highly valid and relevant'' opinions might as well go along with 'em. I'm just copy & pasting from my GOTY 2011 list. So... yo:

2011 has been a very middling year for me, videya-gaymz speaking anywhoo. A large portion of the year has of course been sequel-centric, and for me a shocking amount are sequels that didn't surpass their predecessors. A lot can be said for my choice of games I opted for, however, and not to mention a large amount of this years most well regarded completely cut from the proceedings, due to me simply not having the platform or because my computer is a disgrace to its kind.

Such stark examples like The Witcher 2 and Ghost Trick (and plenty more, I assure you), both of which I had no access because of the aforementioned reasons, are two I really wish I could of played. The Witcher 2 I'm in luck since it's getting a 360 release next year, and Ghost Trick I'm sure I'll get one day. I should probably get a DS too, I think that might help. But when that time comes, 2011 will be long behind me leaving both to stay as casualties towards my 2011 gaming span.

There also a lot of big titles that I haven't played because I don't have a great degree of interest towards, or not quite enough to prioritise over other games I bought. Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Mortal Kombat, Outland, Batman: Arkham City, Gears of War 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and not to mention Skyrim! One such title I have no doubt would make onto my list somewhere, but money woes kept getting in the way, and then when I finally caved in, that was about the time I noticed a lot of the ensuing pitchforks and hatred pelvic-thrusted at Skyrim because of its degrading technical issues. So I opted out of it, and even now should I decide to order it it'd probably take a week at least to get here, cancelling out any possible positioning on this heeya list.

Let's see, there's also El Shaddai that I did actually order around 4 days ago, but the fucking thing hasn't even been dispatched yet, so that too must be crossed out unfortunately. It's one I was fairly interested in, too, but my interest admittedly never quite peaked the ''£40'' margin.

Because of all of these mishaps, my 2011 list has been pretty difficult to surmise. Hell, even actually squeezing in 10 games was a little tricky; I have played more than 10 this year, but there's quite a few (including Dragon Age 2 and L.A Noire) I really wouldn't want to place here just for the sake of filling up the slots. And while all 10 I did enjoy this year, there's still one or two I'm not entirely comfortable with having it take up the slot, and I just wished I at least played Skyrim to better even things out. But oh well, given what I had on offer, this is what I've personally found to be my top 10 for 2011.

10. Hydrophobia Prophecy

Now I never played the original Hydrophobia, nor it's second release, so for me this was entirely new. I know of it's not-so-heralded reception and the backlash the developers have so vehemently spewed across. But speaking for the Prophecy edition, I can say that whatever upgrades and improvements they administered, they worked.

Hydrophobia's story and gameplay may not be all too refined, and in essence it almost resembles a poor man's Uncharted. But it's documented physics engine and the way it handles water is as awesome as people have(?) said. The game itself was pretty breezy on the default difficulty, too, so I mostly strolled along simply enjoying the way the water dynamically sloshes and flows depending on the environment and whatever obstacles were present. Shooting a glass window to witness the water pour out and catch a dude off-guard, drowning him in the process, was pretty impressive.

What is a shame is how Prophecy didn't exploit it's brilliant physics more so than nearing the end, when your character inexplicably gains the power to literally control the water. It introduced a single water puzzle that I quite enjoyed, and would of allowed Hydrophobia some warmer reception should it of been introduced earlier, if not instead just built the game entirely around those mechanics.

9. Bastion

I gotta be honest, I didn't particularly enjoy 'playing' through Bastion. Something about it just didn't feel all that right; the combat and movement felt a little stiff and didn't flow together that well. Maybe it was down to me not finding the combination of weapons that suited me the most, but I certainly did try a damn many combinations.

Even still, it was the incredibly detailed graphics and the superbly cool narration that kept me going. The story itself took far too long to actually give me a little fire; I literally groaned after collecting all of the cores, only to then be tasked with collecting a set of core ''shards''. But when it did pick up, I was a skosh more enthusiastic.

I did eventually complete Bastion and while the final few story beats didn't hit me as hard as I was predicting, judging by the comments I've read, it was enough to leave me satisfied overall. I don't think I'll be heading into the NG+ anytime soon, though.

8. Yakuza 4

Man, I only entered the fray with Yakuza 3, but already the series is starting to a wear a little thin. I still appreciate it's almost stubborn adherence to the design it wants, but some of the stranger choices--like cutscenes which constantly switch between full-voiced cutscenes to static text delivery--are quickly starting to become less so quirky and more so archaic. With that said, the Yakuza games have some brilliant and brutal combat mechanics, and the soap-opera storyline is chock full of Japanese drama that I can't help but be motivated to learn more. The best aspect of it all is how there's now four very distinctive characters, all who link up to the same story via some fairly clever means. It's how each character must tackle the fictional city of Kamurocho differently, be it by befriending the hobos as one, or using your police-issue radio to search for criminal activity as another, that helps Yakuza 4 stand out for me.

Also the soundtrack is ace.

7. Resistance 3

Resistance 3 is like the Bizarro edition of Resistance 2. Whereas Resistance 2 featured an expansive and highly addictive multiplayer suite, with an absolutely fantastic 8-player cooperative offering, it's story wasn't very engaging to the general community. Me, I still found the campaign to be a lot of fun, but definitely nowhere near as Resistance 3's. Gone are the limitations of the modern-day weaponry stockholds, with a drool-inducing selection of weapons, all with alt-fires and origins very alien, to now collect and be ready to unleash at whim. Returned is the unique handicap of health that doesn't regenerate, giving Resistance 3 a more hectic pace as you struggle to manage your health, hoping to stumble upon any nearby health packs.

It's campaign is a fast-paced somewhat-homage to the old ways of shooters--if not at least Resistance: FoM--but apparently that also meant losing out on a lot of the multiplayer options that Resistance 2 gladly flaunted. It was a harsh trade, but I've at least taken solace with my time during Resistance 3's hectic single player.

6. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Uncharted 3 is a weird one; it's single player I most definitely enjoyed a lot more during my following playthroughs. The initial adventure I joined alongside Nathan Drake for was a fucking nightmare, however. The stilted shooting mechanics, the awful combat scenarios and the less-so-engaging story really tore at my insides. Even when I adjusted to the shooting mechanics and could actually have some fun with the single-player, that never saved how the combat portions still delved into a lot of the very same lazy design choices that plagued Drake's Fortune way back when. Add to that with Uncharted 3's ''samey-ness'', and it was overall underwhelming.

Then why does this hit the Number 6. mark? Well despite all my moaning, the single-player I would eventually learn to have some fun with as I said before. But most importantly it was the greatly expanded multiplayer aspects that have I've resonated such love towards. I was well into the multiplayer for Uncharted 2 and always felt it was harshly shrugged off, and Uncharted 3 has now only improved upon that formula with every facet. Much like with Uncharted 2, playing with folks I know is a blast and given how little I generally play multiplayer (RDR and the Resistance are the only other franchises with which I actually put a heap of multiplaying hours into), it's a nice change of pace to be working within a small community. Uncharted 3 surpasses Uncharted 2's multiplayer and will no doubt keep me in even longer than Uncharted 2 did. And I am currently nothing but eager for the upcoming map packs.

5. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

Oh how I love me my legos. I've loved assembling lego shit since I was a kid, and while that fascination unfortunately died down as the years spiralled up (as did a lot of other things...) my enjoyment with Lego still transcends into the virtual portrayal of these Danish son'bitches. And Lego Star Wars 3 also just happens to possibly be the best one yet. Based within the continuity of The Clone Wars CGI series (which I totally watched through to.. keep up, so to speak. Turns out that series is actually pretty good) allowing me to once again swing lightsabers, shoot droids and collect a never-ending supply of studs! Add a lot of the series original foundation to a larger degree of variety including vehicles, and least of all the RTS gameplay mechanics, and I was yet again left to sink in 50 or so hours attempting to unlock everything. I love me some Legos; I love me some Star Wars, and Lego Stars Wars 3 provided plenty of opportunities to once more express that love all within the glee of whatever little innocence remains within.

4. Dead Space 2

Both Dead Space 2 and its predecessor are two of the very few games I've actually been awarded the Platinum for. I think that alone speaks to how much hell I'm currently enjoying out of this franchise. Now while I still prefer the slower and more horror-orientated pacing of the original, Dead Space 2 does in no way take itself down the kind of path I wouldn't like, and more so just drifts down an alternate path over Dead Space Senior. The shooting is still some of the best around, the over-arching storyline is now starting to get surprisingly broad and interesting, and man, Necromorphs can still be damn intimidating under most circumstances.

Dead Space 2 is the kind of game that takes around 7-8 hours, yet can still keep you stuck in for around 15-20. Much like Dead Space Uno, I sucked Dead Space 2 dry, I cut off every limb and I, as mentioned earlier, got me that platinum. I completed the Impossible, and all I want is more.

3. Saints Row The Third

God I love this series. The Saints Row series, no matter the tone it's drenched in, is still one of the best at allowing you to wreak havoc the way you want with the character you want. Saints Row 2 probably hit this same position for my non-existent 2008 GOTY list (which I should maybe make one day...) and it's crazy how each game has ranked so high for me, yet for differing reasons each time.

The original Saints Row it was all about the placeholder for the next GTA; Saints Row 2, it was all bout the crafting of its own identity and the tremendous list of stuff to do And not to mention the ever-surprising story made up of great voice work, writing and a dozen moments that I'll never forget (nor can, considering the amount of times I completed it). And now Saints Row The Third, with it's significantly improved production values, heartily expanded character-creator, overall improved Boss voice selection and some of the greatest moments across the entire franchise - which, speaking as a bit of a fanboy towards SR2, is saying a damn lot. While I'll always wish for what-could-have-been, had The Third not severed a startling amount of the side stuff nor replaced their vibrant, colourful urban areas for a starch, lifeless shell during the process, that never stopped me from yet again noticing the 100+ hour dump at the top of my in-game's statistics sheet.

2. inFAMOUS 2

As long as Sucker Punch keep doin' what they doin', then everytime they release an inFAMOUS game, it's sure to star amongst that very GOTY list for me. inFAMOUS 2 sticks very close to the original like it was a conjoined twin, and is one of the few sequels that didn't feel fit to lob off something in exchange for something else. inFAMOUS 2 is inFAMOUS but with more powers, better graphics, a city that isn't completely coated in grey and a new story - and that's all I could of asked for from an inFAMOUS sequel. Hell, they even ''somehow'' turned Zeke into a surprisingly likeable guy as well... for that alone, Sucker Punch deserves a piece of my heart.

1. Dark Souls

I haven't even completed Dark Souls and yet I am still fully confident in placing it as my Number 1. for this year. Well, I say I haven't completed it, but my main character is quite literally at the end-boss. I just can't beat him because my character's a bit of a mess, build-wise. I've still all the same plugging in a massive investment of days and nights, playing through with multiple characters, and just doing a huge degree of farming with my main. I loved everything to do with Demon's Souls, and Dark Souls is essentially Demon's Souls but better. A more varied enemy design, a seem-less world (that does still suffer from some near insufferable frame-rate issues, however) and the same freedom to create your character however you want.

Dark Souls is even more intimidating for its scope and complete lack of guidance for the most part, but that only makes it all the more satisfying to uncover the many mysteries the game holds. Dark Souls is ''exactly'' like something I've already played before, but that doesn't stop the surprises and the drowning density of wonder for me to quickly lose myself to.

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Dark Souls is harder than Demon's Souls... Like, a lot.

I mean Holy Sexual Intercourse, Batman! This bastard is a real a bitch! I will always attest to Demon's Souls having a bit of a steep learning curve with a nasty metaphorical guillotine for any error in your play-style, but at the same time Demon's Souls wasn't all that particularly hard. Once you got the main path sorted (after a few dozen deaths to be sure) I at least could swim my way across. I could very easily play through Demon's Souls now and probably only die very sparingly, and only against some of the more aggravating bosses where I might just lose my patience.

I've always still thought that describing the difficulty for Demon's Souls is a tricky task because it's so varied and elaborate. I mean I'm of the faction that believes that Demon's Souls wasn't particularly difficult (least during the original run; those new-game+'s can be a right bastard) minus a couple of boss battles. I died, a lot, to be sure but as many can relate, it was most-often down to my own folly. I played Demons Souls straight from the get-go, too, (a US import for £52's... I literally to this day still don't entirely know why I ponied that much up for a game I knew little about besides its notorious difficulty and its setting) with no massive archive to walk you through virtually everything. I was a melee-focused Priest because I didn't even know Priests could learn magic and figured you were tied down to your characters strengths to the end like most class-based RPG games.

I was completely unprepared; my main weaponry consisted of a holy mace with the dark-silver shield for defense, and the large sword of moonlight for my offensive maneuvers. At that point, upgrading weapons was lost on for me the most part when it came to the unique weapons; I got my mace+shield pretty high up, though my moonlight sword stayed right at the bottom of the upgrade chain. It still completely kicked ass, though, for both PVE and PVP. I had some basic bow for the occasional long-range, and of course there were my miracles to administer buffs and such. A lot of the most hidden secrets were lost on me, and by the time I first completed the game I still had no notion of the world-tendency and character morality malarkey. Suffice to say, I played Demon's Souls only touching the surface, only equipped with the basics, and I prevailed fairly easily in the long run. I did still farm a lot, too, so I was always readily equipped with healing-supplies and other kinds of doodads.. Like I said, a couple of bosses would keep me cornered for a short while (I mean trying to beat the Flamelurker with a melee focused character on your first playthrough was a nightmare), though some extra soul players helped that out. But overall the game was fairly smooth for me; I even completed a few new-game+'s with that same character, too, though I faltered greatly during more of the PVP stuff since I still hadn't worked out much more about the game by that time.

Dark Souls on the other hand... well... that's just downright tough. To note the most obvious handicaps it's decided to pile on now above everything else:

  • The movement is significantly more skewed and slow, even when you're wearing light armour. No more rolling around, following a roll directly with another ='(.
  • The combat animations, too, feel even more deliberate and also makes Demon's Souls appear more arcadey in comparison.
  • The enemies are much more unpredictable, can now more often parry/backstab.
  • Enemies can also follow you much more prominently, and even the enemies you attempt to avoid will catch up with you again sometime, often getting from you behind when you least expect it.
  • Far as I know, I still haven't been introduced to someone who can sell me poison antidotes (I've just beaten the armoured bull for reference at my current progress), yet they still seem fit to throw G-Virus induced rats at you with a strong poison rate.
  • I still haven't found a guy to sell me a bow yet. I'm constricted with this shitty crossbow and the only 15 bolts I've accumulated thus far after my, predicted, 8-10 hours of playtime.
  • There are enemies you outright can't even kill now?! Least not without a weapon imbued with magic I assume?
  • Dark Souls own ''Dragon guarding a bridge'' also attacks much more randomly; sometimes it'll simply start breathing fire soon as I enter the black recesses, sometimes it'll give me enough time to reach the staircase.
  • Seriously, those giant rats are a real headsore.
  • You can't stock up on like 9999999 healing items anymore?!
  • They introduce the kick and jump-attack abilities, yet make them so cumbersome to perform.
  • The targeting is still a nightmare, but that hasn't changed from Demon's Souls. But put into the context of this much (imo at least) harder game, it results in even more frustration should it occasionally falter and force me to target the wrong enemy or make my camera roll around like i'm on a rollercoaster when an enemy dives past or falls of a cliff ect.
  • Severely limited spell/miracle use! With no replenishing items!

Now.. with all that, let me be clear: I still fucking love this game and the tears are still of happiness and joy (with a slight pinch of bitter). The urine is still from complete fear and petrification, however. I'm just commenting on my observation as to how... shit... they really stood by their word with making Dark Souls even harder. Some of it does seem a little unfair, the like the more constrained movement controls, but overall it is just From Software adding even more shit to the creek for you to sail up. While also puncturing your boat, naturally. I mean like my e-peen ejaculation up there reads, I considered Demon's Souls a unique challenge, asking of me nothing that many games these days ask of me. Even with such a tough ruleset to swallow when playing Demon's Souls, I found it to be a fairly smooth fit once I got a lot of the basic mechanics and fundamentals nailed. At this point I'd consider myself a veteran even, with the scars to prove it! But damn, man... Dark Souls is a whole other beast.

It reminds me of this level in Resident Evil: Outbreak File 2 (bear with me here...) where you'll have to face against a mutated Tyrant with large claws and a huge pile of rotten caviar resting on his back. He was a mean SOB, and always made you fear for your characters life whenever his theme music started, alerting you to his presence. Once you'd beat him and go through a specific set of gameplay motifs, you'd find yourself up on the room. Once there, you see the Tyrant once again within your view; he's climbing the building, but he looks tired and downright battered. Then this giant slushy, jelly-plant-thing called Nyx appears and envelops him, absorbs him. The Tyrant, a creature fittingly feared, trumped by an even bigger, nastier pile of fuckery. It took everything you new about how to contend with the Tyrant and forced you to flush it. Naturally the analogy of course features the Tyrant as Demon's Souls and Nyx as Dark Souls. Stupid, mostly irrelevant, but... I got nothin'.

TL;DR Dark Souls is much harder than I was anticipating, even with so many Demon's Souls neatly tucked under my belt.

Moral: DARK SOULS IS ACTUALLY JUST AS HARD AS IT PROFESSES TO BE.

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Hack em, Beat em, Stick em In A Stew: Dark Alliance.

Long before the whole second coming of the APOCALYPS3 was struck down I was brushing on my PS2 collection and refurbishing it with some old school, dungeon crawlin' up em beatin' son of a bitches. Most I had planned to finally check out, and with the gaming drought that cropped up (more so because of the lack of any new appealing releases to me than the lack of online) I got me browsing through Amazon for some cheevo-less cheapos. Including the likes of the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance games, the spiritual successors, Champions of Norrath, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and Justice League Heroes.


Most of which were all developed by the same Snowblind Studios, most of which were reviewed by Ryan Davis during the early GSing days, all of which allow, and prosper, with cooperative gameplay. I've played through all, though some are being left behind after only an inklings entry because of how much I'd rather play them with a fellow adventurer (see: Champions of Norrath), but I've completed a good chunk of the lot and I'll make do with what's left to assure that I'll have a pretty justified opinion for the ones I bloggeth.

To start off this lil series of ''guy playing games'' will be Dark Alliance: one of the most recognisable dungeon crawlers of all time and one that brought the genre that was otherwise barely existent on consoles.





Now I'm going into this 11 years too late, but criticism where it's due shall be delivered, and Dark Alliance deserves plenty of it. I should also note that I didn't go into this expecting a dungeon crawler from 2011, or anything resembling more modern conventions, but the thing with dungeon crawlers is is that they really haven't changed all that much from the age of Diablo furthering Blizzard's dominance within everything - which, much like the genre, hasn't really changed all that much actually - and Dark Alliance really just isn't all that outstanding as a dungeon crawler. 

The usual complaints that would surround such an old game also what weren't that factored into things either. For starters I actually really liked the games graphics, with the water being pretty damn impressive when viewing it from the mindset that this is from the beginning of the last decade. There were plenty of games later on that could only wet dream themselves such brilliant water physics...teehee. The battle animations are pretty smooth, as is the whole production of the game, which is no doubt what made this game so impressive at the time. Quality wise this can still be appreciated as a well produced game, but the gameplay is something else.. something old.. something pure... something.. really gosh darn tedious.

Oh hey hold the phucking phone... tedium in a dungeon crawler?! Mon dieu!...


 Maybe I should make this a trademark...

The thing with dungeon crawlers is they are generally built around tedious combat, but the one thing that keeps pulling you in is the enigmatic character-driven story! The multitude of new loot to find! And the in your face elven nudity!

OK, well maybe not the first and last, but the middle reasoning with the loot is true. And that there is what festers and decays the game from within: the loot is awful. There's barely any of it, with you plundering mostly rubbish to sell, and scraps of gold, that eventually allow you to afford the best stuff in the game from the shop... the shop?! I don't go dungeon crawling to search for stuff just so I can sell just so I can buy my weapons and armour! Well to some extent since you're here to ransack treasures, but treasures such as lost trinkets, mystical weapons and awesome looking capes! The only bone this game throws you are actual bones. There are numerable boss battles as well, but they too virtually award you nothing, and their defeat most often results with their corpse spewing out a couple of potions with maybe a ''worn dagger''. There's really not that many armour sets either - or rather there are armour sets, they just all happen to look the same. But that admittedly can be forgiven as a way of the times.

 Oh and seriously, great lighting in this game.     
During my first playthrough I also played as the Dwarven Warrior. I don't usually strive for the warrior position, I'll admit, but c'mon, Dwarf! Unfortunately that was another step added to this continuously bumpy fall down to the bottom. As the warrior you're expected to rely on your brute strength and the handy ability to mash X through everything. With the warrior in Dark Alliance that class design really wants to stick to the letter. There's only three abilities that the Warrior can, two of which are each exclusive to a particular weapon; so never would you have more than two abilities as a warrior. Unfortunately my love for the sword+shield combo overwhelmed me and that's what I piled my points into, which left me with a single ability to make use of--an aggressive charge attack--and one that is so un-accurate that the only good it was was for just getting across the environments easier. I understand Dwarfs have small legs, but did you really have to limit his speed like he actually was a Dwarf trying to make his through miles of dungeon? I did also try out the Sorceress a little and she certainly appeared to be a much more expansive and complex character to master, but at that point I was already done. Plus the balancing between the classes is freakin' rough; trying to solo as a Sorceress really wasn't what the developers intended. 
I did also try a bit of cooperative as well, with my little brother, but we got stuck at the Undead Raising Orb of *generic demon thing/historical city something* because maybe it was two players were involved, but the game, on normal mode, really ratcheted up the difficulty to annoying lengths. The Orb's health would barely drop with every attack from either us, and we'd always die through exhaustion of potions the bloody battle would always take so long.


So with little loot to look forward and a character that literally had me just stampede the X button through combat, you can imagine that this particular dungeon crawl was even less of a crawl and more of a strange, awkward woddle. 

Her keys are kept in between her tits.       
The story is peppered with characters all well voiced, including Jennifer Hale voicing a busty bar owner who looks like she got her implants from the same surgeon who handled the DOA chicks, and Tony Jay voicing this weird demon thing that looks like something out of the classic Doom games. The story itself is pretty generic, fantasy fair, even though it's set in a very well developed and expansive fiction. Story never has played a strong focus in these sorts of games, and merely act as an easy backdrop for some murderin'. This one provides just that, including your very first quest that actually tasks you to empty out an infested cellar.. a cellar infested with GIANT RATS. The final section is kinda inept, though, as it then decides to actually lay on you some sort of in depth back-story to what's going on, all told by a ghost that talks more than every other character you've met prior combined. There was also this uncalled for emphasis on how special, and how affected we were supposed to be, by this end villain who is only introduced in the very last few seconds of the game, as if they were legitimately wanting us to appreciate the story. By that time not only had I forgot practically everyones name I was literally just rushing past all the enemies, decked in the best armour and gear because the game also decided to vomit the games entire wealth of stuff everywhere during the last area, and praying for the credits to scroll.

There's a fair variety of environments to slowly ''Bull Rush'' your way through too, with the cellar/sewers probably being my favourite just for their iconic relevance to this genre, and also sporting some of the best music in the game - and this game has some awesome music. Which along with the graphics, voice acting and water physics, Dark Alliance holds up surprisingly well on a production stand point. The gameplay, whether that is down to the test of time and the sheer number of dungeon crawlers that can be found on consoles these days, is a monotonous bore, though, and one that I'm glad I've gotten behind me.

Now Dark Alliance 2, on the other hand...

  
  
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