Sin & Punishment: Star Successor.
In this day and age it's hard to find a game that is not afraid to completly destroy you. But i've noticed in the last couple of years that some developers are making games that do just that. For example, Demon's Souls, a game that demands you to get better at the game before you'll be able to get anywhere. And it's these kinds of games that really get me excited. The fact that I actually have to have some sort of skill to complete the game, makes me wonder why things got so easy. Now I'm not saying that ALL games should be as brutal as the aforementioned Demon's Souls, but I would like to see more games that really test my ability to play. Luckily Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is truly a game that is both challenging, yet fair.
The game is a on rails shooter, but unlike games like say, House of the dead, you have direct control over an on-screen character. This control is key to the experience, since you'll spend pretty much every second of the game dodging enemy bullets,missle's and many other kinds of projectiles. But most important of all, you'll be shooting, in fact, from the moment the game starts you NEVER STOP SHOOTING. You have three ways to attack in the game, an automatic laser, charge beam and a melee attack that can also be used to counter enemy missle's and block incoming bullets. From start to finish the game is a constant stream of crazy. From swarms of enemys to screen filling boss fights, Sin & Punishment really never lets up, and thats great. And it's this constant barrage of crazy that makes S&N:SS so challenging, since you're contstantly changing tactices from one enemy to the next. Each level also has a number of boss fights, all of which have differen't attacks and all of them require a unique approach to acheive total victory. Yet in all of the craziness, victory never seems out of reach. The controls are simple and responsive, and that goes a long way to help make it easier to understand then games (again) like Demon's souls.
But not everything is on the same level as the design and controls. The story is actually very dumb and really only acts as a vehicle to get the main characters Isa and Katchi from one bad- guy infested area to the next. Also the american voice-overs, while not offensively bad, aren't very good either and actually make these characters very forgettable overall. On the technicle side of things S&P:SS is a pretty solid, but an uninspired art style really takes away from what could have been a visually striking game.
Overall, Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is an amazingly addictive game that really shows how great design can make a game that (on paper) would seem way to crazy to be fun, truly great.