Monthly Archives: February 2013

Review: Dead Space 3

I’m a huge Dead Space fan. Not trying to brag, but I have all the achievements in Dead Space and Dead Space 2, and in the latter I secured all the original achievements in fewer than four days after its launch. In short, I know my Dead Space. Ever since Dead Space 3 announced it would have co-op, it received mixed opinions quite commonly. Because of this, I was unsure how the game would be. Would it be Dead Space, or would it be just another action game?

The good news is that it does feel like Dead Space… sometimes. The better news is that the co-op is fun. The best news is that the game is worth your time.

Dead Space 3 revolves around veteran protagonist, Isaac Clarke. Isaac, after trying to live a relatively normal life, gets pulled back into the fighter against the markers when two men from Earth Gov. inform him that Ellie, Isaac’s now ex-girlfriend, has gone missing while working for them. Issac gears up with his trusty plasma cutter with a new goal – find Ellie, kill necromorphs, stop the markers. Well… on second thought… that’s pretty much the goal he has had in all the games (save the first was with Nicole instead of Ellie), but whatever you get the point.

After peeling the plastic wrapping off the case and entering the limited edition codes, I loaded it up and selected single player. As an avid Dead Space fan, I wanted to experience the game alone first and experience the game for what it is, after all, Dead Space is supposed to be about that feeling of loneliness in uncomfortably deadly environments. The fear set in that this game wouldn’t be that series I knew and loved. EA clearly manipulated Visceral Games’ development cycle, as reported micro-transactions and heavier action-oriented gameplay pointed out.

To my pleasant surprise, many of the questionable additions were completely ignorable. Micro-transactions are next to invisible unless you look for them, the game itself feels like a single player game when alone and a co-op game when with a friend, and combat maneuvers like taking cover and rolling aren’t really needed unless you’re really bad at Dead Space. In fact, they don’t even tell you how to combat roll until you’re halfway through the game because it matters so little.

At its core, the gameplay is still Dead Space. One addition I have a love/hate relationship with is the new workbench, weapon crafting, and resource management system. I love the resource management aspect they’ve added. I think it adds a level of depth you cannot achieve with the standard money and shop system that the previous games had. In contrast to this, however, I feel the weapon crafting system, while it is good and incredibly customizable, kind of ruins the old feel of the Dead Space games. In Dead Space 1 & 2, your arsenal mainly consisted of futuristic powertools – a mineral cutter, a floating sawblade, an industrial torch, surveying tools, etc. With the new weapons and workbench system, I found myself with rifles and SMGs more often, which kind of ruins the whole “cut off their limbs” aspect of killing the necromorphs. Like, I seriously just shoot them in the chest a lot and they die. It’s not Dead Space in that sense.

The environments go from lame, to cool, to lame again, and then back to cool in a repeating cycle throughout the game. The area you start in, a lunar colony is kind of bland. It’s the stereotypical slum section of a futuristic city. In other words, lots of hover cars and dumpsters. After a bit, you travel in space and explore some ancient space ruins floating in orbit of a snowy planet, and this is actually my favorite part of the game. There is a lot of freedom in this area, it’s essentially free roam for this portion of the game, and lots of secrets are hiding in the discarded pieces of the 200-year old vessel. In due time, you travel to the planet you’re orbiting, Tau Volantis, and continue to fight necromorphs in the blizzardous conditions. Tau Volantis is an interesting planet, and I felt that the setting goes from tasty to tasteless quite often, my favorites being at a crash site during a blizzard and while exploring an abandoned lab. The music is the traditional ambient music while exploring which phases into a more thrilling soundtrack as need be and really compliments the areas you’ll be visiting.

There are very few new enemies thrown into the mix, with the Waster being the most prominent. The Waster is basically a zombie with two hatchets who can sprout three necromorphic limbs when chopped in half. The older enemies return with new looks that fit into the different environments more so than their Ishimura counterparts. Human enemies are in this game, though the fights between them are short and often interrupted by necromorphs tearing them apart. The boss fights are the normal, shoot the yellow spots to hurt them deal and shouldn’t really cause much trouble for the player.

The additional missions are a neat addition story wise and offer you tons of goodies to help you on your campaign against the undead space monsters. Unfortunately, they reuse environments… over and over again. I visited rooms that looked exactly the same as rooms before it four or five times because of side missions, and it really got dull after a while. Luckily, Carver’s (the co-op character) has a lot of really cool story elements that you will only experience during co-op side-missions which is an added bonus in a sea of Oblivion-esk rehashed dungeon rooms.

The story of the game, without any spoilers, takes plenty of leaps and turns you should expect from a thriller game, with drama added on for that extra spice. Sometimes it gets a little ridiculous, but then again, the entire Dead Space universe is a little ridiculous, so I think we can let it slide. It was a solid conclusion to a trilogy worth playing in my book, and despite its flaws, is a good game.

New game + adds tons of replay value, offering three new modes, Hardcore, Pure Survival and Classic. On top of New Game +, there are over 130 collectables in the game, which encourages deeper exploration of environments and completion of side quests to obtain them all, as well as rewards for obtaining them. The replay value of this game is actually really impressive, especially since you’ll want to play through the normal game twice, once alone and once with a friend.

Overall, Dead Space 3 does live up to its predecessors. It is definitely a slightly different game, but at its core it’s pretty much the same idea. People sometimes argue that Dead Space 3 wasn’t scary… but neither was Dead Space 1 or 2. They’ve always been thriller games, but never scarier than a jump scare here and there, and Dead Space 3 still has those. I welcome some new gameplay mechanics, like resource management and optional missions. The good really does outweigh the bad in this game, and should be played by Dead Space fans regardless of the few flaws it has. I definitely suggest playing this game with a friend, because my co-op experience was quite fun at times. While not perfect, it’s one for the collection and one that deserves more respect than some people give it.

Badges:

*Recommended

*Fan-Must-Play

*Replayable-Friendly

*Thrillicious

I give Dead Space 3 a 3/5

Review: Wii U

I love Nintendo. From Mario to Pikmin I never struggle to enjoy myself while playing a Nintendo title. Lately Nintendo has done some pretty stupid things that make me criticize them a bit. Nintendo really needs to reformat its marketing tactics. First with the 3DS basically being marketed as a normal DS with 3D tacked on (which it’s not, it’s a whole new console with much better specs) and now with the Wii U. Most people were confused at first. “Isn’t the Wii U just a peripheral?” I’ve had friends come over to try the Wii U this past month who still didn’t realize it’s not just a peripheral, and these guys play video games daily. This is Nintendo’s biggest flaw in marketing right now; they seem to think it’s a good idea to put a lot of emphasis on specific points of new consoles, instead of the whole console itself. But you’re not here to see to me rant about Nintendo’s marketing. You’re here to read about my opinion on the Wii U; is it fun, inspired, and worth it? To answer those questions in a short sense: Yes, yes, and not yet.

The Wii U Deluxe Bundle (The one I bought and suggest buying) comes with a Black Wii U, Black Gamepad, a charging dock, Nintendo Land, an HDMI cable, stands for your Console and Gamepad, and a 32 GB hard drive. Being the Nintendo fan I am, I knew before they even announced anything that I’d be buying the next Nintendo console. When they did announce it, however, I was skeptical. Releasing hardware that has nearly the same capabilities of the consoles that are out right now was something that most people thought was a bad idea. I tend to be a lot more neutral towards how powerful my hardware is. For me, it’s all about the flavor of the game. When I want a powerful device, I want it for things like render distances. The Grand Theft Auto series is a perfect example of the kind of games I would want to have this kind of rendering distance in. When I think Nintendo, I think Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, Pikmin… and these games honestly don’t really need the kind of power we do for other games. The reason for this is because of their flavor and the design choices Nintendo takes in mind. The environments are usually “stages” with load screens and not completely open world, which opens more possibilities for better looking environments in a smaller scale as opposed to greater scale. I’m not giving Nintendo a free pass, I still wish the hardware was better, but I do think that this is why Nintendo decided to take this course.

Other than hardware specifics, the Wii U Gamepad is what people have in their minds when thinking about the Wii U. The gamepad is surprisingly light and comfortable once you get used to it. It features a touchpad, microphone, speakers, a camera, motion controls, dual analog sticks, four face buttons, a d-pad, start and pause buttons, four shoulder buttons, a home button, a power button and a TV button. The TV button allows you to use the Gamepad as a universal television remote, a neat little addition that certainly doesn’t hurt. I honestly really like the Gamepad. I think some games will use it magnificently while others will abuse it. I think once the Wii U has been out for a year or two developers will obtain the perfect equilibrium between Gamepad usage and TV usage.

Software time. Right now, the Wii U doesn’t have anything worth the $300-$350 investment. ZombiU, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Nintendo Land are all underwhelming games (Although Nintendo Land IS fun with friends/family and ZombiU COULD have been good with a few adjustments.) Once Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 and Wind Waker HD are on the shelves, the Wii U will finally have a solid list of exclusives to choose from. Some would say “The Wii U had, like, the best launch ever duh!” because of all the games that were available at launch. I’d argue that any gamer who is going to buy a console at launch should have already played Batman: Arkham City, Mass Effect 3, and Assassin’s Creed III, so that argument is pretty irrelevant. If you haven’t played said games on an Xbox 360, PS3 or PC yet, well I guess this is your chance to do it, but for the majority of launch-window buyers, we’ve already played these games.

The Nintendo Network and (specifically, the Miiverse) is a truly impressive experience. The ability to pause your game at any time to access a forum – essentially a database of information – and discuss the game with fellow gamers is something that I’m surprised hasn’t been done before the Wii U. It’s fun to log on and just communicate and socialize with fellow Wii U owners and Nintendo fans. Hopefully once the Wii U games more software the actual amount of people playing online games will significantly increase, because right now, the servers for the online multiplayer for games is usually dead or near dead.

The Wii U is fun. It really does feel like Nintendo is on to something. The gamepad, to me, can offer ease of communication between player and game, innovative puzzle dynamics and creative gameplay changes to mix-up the experience it offers. I have no doubt in my mind that Nintendo’s release will be positively the pinnacle of the console’s library, and am incredibly excited to see these games when the time rolls around. I’m very excited for E3 this year simply because it will allow Nintendo to show the skeptics the potential of the Wii U – hopefully. As long as Nintendo stays on track and continues there tradition of highly anticipated, well developed, fun games, I have no doubt in my mind the Wii U will not only be worth the investment, but it will be a success, which is what really matters in the end. If you’re looking for a console to play Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto on, stick with a Microsoft or Sony platform. If you’re looking for a console to play creative, innovative and simply fun games, look nowhere else but the Wii U… next year. Don’t buy it yet. It just doesn’t have enough games right now for it to be worth it.

Verdict:

Fun?: Yes, I’ve had a blast on the Wii U so far.

The next step?: For Nintendo. Sony and Microsoft need to keep doing their own thing and disregard what Nintendo is doing. They aren’t in the same competition anymore.

Worth it?: Not yet, wait until late this year or early next year.

Miniview: Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why’d You Steal Our Garbage?!

Hey Ice King is the first game that I’ve been able to sit down and play through the entire game in one session in ages (with my busy schedule butting into my game time) and I am immensely happy that I was able to do so. It’s also the first portable game that has completely captivated me in a long time as well. However, these truths don’t hold all that relevant when the sad fact that it’s only about six hours long floats to the surface. The game is also incredibly easy which obviously doesn’t help lengthen the game in anyway. Luckily, the game offers a New Game plus which increases the difficultly and should serve to increase the length of the game by at least an hour or two, depending on the player’s skill level.

The gameplay is extremely Zelda II-esque, with a top-down view as you explore Ooo that takes on side-scrolling when you encounter an enemy. Finn uses his fighting abilities to fend off foes by unleashing different kinds of attacks like downward thrusts and slide-kicks as well as swinging his trusty sword or punching when his health is low. Jake resides in Finn’s backpack and offers a variety of movement-based skills like floating as an umbrella or extending to cross broken bridges. Finn and Jake must travel to the four different dungeons to stop the Ice King from stealing their garbage. The dungeons feature simple puzzles and often a new ability to help the duo progress deeper into the game. The boss fights at the end of each dungeon tend to ramp the difficulty up a bit, but not by much. As you explore Ooo, you’ll find its citizens are in dire need of a hero. Finn and Jake are more than happy to oblige.

The writing is wonderful for fans new and old. The dialog and music is absolutely in-tune with the television show we’ve come to know and love and is set to satisfy any avid Adventure Time fan. With its familiar characters, locations, items and abilities, Hey Ice King is a pretty fun game that will bring you to a nostalgic place of longing for games come to pass. It is a wonderful throwback to classic gaming and an even better tribute to the television show’s expansive lore and fanbase. This is truly a must play for fans of the series. If you’re not a fan of Adventure Time, but you love Zelda games this is definitely a game to give a try. If neither of these things float your boat, then it’s probably a game you’ll want to pass for now. While the game isn’t innovative, it is charming, and that charm is what makes Adventure Time one of the best cartoons on television nowadays.

Badges:

*Fan-must-play

*Hilarious

*Short and Sweet

*Nostalgic

What’s Happening

I feel as though I’ve been excruciatingly busy lately, so I’m going to give you all a run-down on what’s up lately.

As you probably know, I’m back in school for the semester. College is just as fun as ever, complete with eight and a half hour days, plenty of homework, note taking and struggling to stay awake. Not all is upsetting however, because on campus (Eastern Maine Community College) some of the local dorm students have started up an EMCC Gaming League! They are doing their first two events on Monday and Tuesday Feb 4th and 5th, respectively. Featuring Halo 3 on Monday and Mortal Kombat 9 on Tuesday, I will be attending the Tuesday event in hopes of securing victory with my ever-evolving Ermac gameplay. It will be fun, indeed. I look forward to more events like this hosted by the fine fellows who organized it.

Outside of class, I continue my struggle at McDonald’s. Working fast food isn’t so bad, especially since it works around my class schedule wonderfully. I’ve been picking up extra hours in an attempt to acquire enough money for a Wii U, the slew of games coming out this month and next, as well as PAX East next month. I’m going to have to pick up the extra slack on top of what I’m doing outside work to secure my foundations. Tomorrow is the Super Bowl, so I expect all hell to break loose in the food industry as we try to satisfy every customer that walks through our doors.

At home, I’ve been plotting with friends and community members about many projects we’ve all been working on. Expect an awesome upcoming monthly (maybe more often if we can) 15 minute+ video of fellow gamers discussing games of the past, games of the future and industry stuff in general. I plan to do sit downs in my room sometimes with a camera pointed at us, and other times we will use Google Hangouts to do sessions with many members as well as some who are out of state. Not only do I have this project in mind, but I will also be involved in at least one other proposed project from a friend of mine who has some excellent ideas sprouting right now. I’ll let you know what this unannounced project is as soon as we have it locked down and good to go.

Other than that, I’m still actively running 04401 Gaming as well as doing my best to help the Maine Fighting Gamers’ Alliance and Maine Gamers bring their ideas to life. It’s hard juggling this many communities (there are other, minor ones as well) but I am trying my best to help everyone. 04401 Gaming is currently looking for a new admin, and if you think you have what it takes check out the group and fill out an application (you can find the group on the top bar). Keeping civil discussion and respect towards fellow gamers is what 04401 is all about, so join up and help in the discussion!

I think this is the most I’ve ever had on my plate at one time and have been finding it harder and harder to find time to actually PLAY games. I recently got Gamefly and barely got to play the games I received before feeling uncomfortable about how long I was keeping rented games. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep Gamefly, but I have until March to decide because of all the free months I had (three) so I am going to continue using it until it’s out of time and decide then if it’s good for me to have or not. A big problem is that I usually would rather just add the games I’m renting to my collection instead of spending the money trying them before buying them. I’m a hoarder like that.

Then comes my social life. Struggling to spend time with friends has become harder and harder with this huge load of time consuming activities I seem to have decided to place upon myself for the time being. I find my primary form of communication with most of my good friends has become facebook and skype. Kind of sad, but it’s a reality that I hope will change once spring rolls around.

Next week I am planning on having a Nintendo Land review, then maybe Scribblenauts Unlimited (depends on when I get it) and then finally, a Wii U review. I also hope to pump out my Paper Mario Sticker Star video review that I should have done a while ago and just didn’t have time to. Looking forward is sometime I like to do a lot, especially when the future looks as promising as it does right now.

So obviously I’m keeping busy. Stay tuned for tons of awesome stuff by yours truly in the coming days. Thanks for supporting me and what I do!