Thursday, March 11, 2010

Final Fantasy 9 for the Playstation review

Final Fantasy has a funny beginning, in my opinion. For example, the reason why the game is called Final Fantasy is because when the first one was released it was expected to be Square’s last game before filing for bankruptcy. Instead, the game
turned out to be a huge hit, and is still considered one of the best NES games of all time. I do have the major Final Fantasy games on my list of games to review. Most of them, however, are from the compilation discs, since I don’t feel like spending a lot of money on the cartridges of the games. The ones I have are Final Fantasy 1 and 2 from the Final Fantasy Origins disc and Final Fantasy 5 and 6 on the Final Fantasy Anthology discs. While I enjoy each game separately by story and characters, there is only one that will always be closer to my heart than any other game in the entire series. The game I am talking about is Final Fantasy 9. Not only is this one of the best games of all time, but also is my personal favorite Final Fantasy, and is one of my top 20 games of all time. This will be like my Brutal Legend review as I am going to go a little deeper into it, and put in my personal opinions about it.

The main story revolves around a young man named Zidane, who is part of a traveling thief/theatre group known as Tantalus. After a super short encounter with the leader of the gang, they start to plan on their next job, which is to kidnap the princess of Alexandria, Princess Garnet. As they arrive, Zidane and his ally Blank, along with the other members of Tantalus, begin their plans with a play that is famous from Alexandria. While this is happening however, a young black mage named Vivi Orunitia is arriving in the city. He had a ticket for the play, which shortly afterward, is found to be fake. As the play goes on, Zidane and Blank decide to sneak into the castle and find the princess herself. Zidane finds her, but then gets chased by the head of the Pluto Knights, Steiner, who confronts Zidane and the group multiple times before Tantalus escapes with the princess, accidentally bringing Vivi and Steiner along with them. They soon crash into a dangerous forest after getting shot by the queen of Alexandria while escaping. After going through the dangerous wildlife in the forest and saving Vivi and Garnet and escaping its dangers, they then set off on a quest to find out what is going on and stop it from whatever is happening. A lot more goes on, and I will somewhat talk more about it later, but I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t played it. This is going to be hard though, because there is so much to talk about in this game. It’s hard not to spoil this for anyone who hasn’t played it. Let’s get started though on the game play before I spoil everything.

The game play featured in Final Fantasy 9 is, of course, a console role-playing-game or RPG, where you control a huge cast of characters which include Zidane, a traveling thief, Garnet, the princess/white mage/summoner, Vivi a young timid black mage, Steiner a proud honorable knight, Freya, a dragoon, Eiko a young childish summoner, Quinta, a chef in training/blue mage, and finally Amarent, a hit for hire/monk. Each character is unique, and has their own powers and abilities they bring into battle. The battle system in Final Fantasy 9 is the same that has been seen from Final Fantasy 4 to Final Fantasy 8. It’s called active time battle, where instead of taking your time with the battles at hand, you have to act quickly, since every turn can happen in seconds. Well, not exactly seconds, but there is a bar by your character’s status, where it will load and tell you when you can attack. Unlike the past two Final Fantasy games for the Playstation, you can have up to four people up in the battle roster instead of 3, like in Final Fantasy 7 and 8. An interesting way for characters to learn abilities is by equipping items to each character. After a couple of battles with the item on the character can permanently use that said ability and equip a different item to that said character to learn another ability. You can also give your characters special abilities, like not being able to get poisoned or being able to kill certain monsters faster. You would have to be wise, and always keep changing, since each ability does come in handy. Of course, with any Final Fantasy game, you have an arsenal of guardians to summon to do a major attack, and then disappear. In this game, they are called Eidelons. Fan favorites like Shiva and Ifrit make a return, along with other staples like Bahamut, Odin, and Atomos. There are more, but I will let you find out for yourselves. During different times in the game, everyone in the game are separated into different teams. This means that you have to rely on certain characters for certain areas, but you can only use whom you have in your party. For example, during one part of the game, one of the antagonists lets you go free with three other characters, but only to be going to a place where magic doesn’t work. This means when the other half of the party is released from their prisons, you only have all the mages. It’s interesting, since the game makes you get good with all the characters. The major side game within this game is a card battle system, which is kind of like the one found in Final Fantasy 8, where you use cards that have monsters on them and then see what happens. The game is similar to GO, where if one card won, it could absorb the other cards and turn them into your color or the opponent’s.

The game’s graphics are purely amazing. Yeah, you can see how blocky they are, but who cares? The visuals still have a charm that very few games have. It took the whole 3D characters and 2D backgrounds approach and I think it still worked well with all the little bits of animation in the background and lush color pallet. The characters definitely had a unique design to them with an approach of the likes of Final Fantasy 6 or the earlier titles. The designs were very cartoon-like, and weren’t as realistic as Final Fantasy 8 or 10 were. I like the designs, and I even got the art book for the game on one of my birthdays and I still read it. I also liked how the characters didn’t do a single bit of voice acting. It made the game more enjoyable as it played out like a colored silent film. At first, I thought it was a limitation thing since there was no voice acting, but if you look at other games like Metal Gear Solid, which has great voice acting, it’s my opinion that they weren’t ready to use voice acting yet in the franchise. The soundtrack has to be one of my favorite soundtracks ever from the fantasy genre. Nobuo Uematsu did a great job with the music from the opening sequence before the start screen to just every place on the map It’s just amazing. If you live in a cave for some odd reason, Nobuo Uematsu is a famous composer who is famous for his works in the Final Fantasy games, Chrono Trigger, Lost Odyssey, and a lot of other Squaresoft or Square Enix games. Another thing I like about the game is the theme of identity. A lot of the characters in the game deal with their own personal identity. Steiner is a good example, since he wants to stay loyal to the queen, and disregard everyone else as scum, but he also wants to be by the side of the princess and do whatever she commands. This means Steiner has to choose between serving the queen, who is of course evil, and serve as an ally to the gang and help the princess in the adventure. Garnet however deals with the responsibility of ruling a kingdom, and coming to terms that the queen, who is also her step-mother, is evil, and wants to rule the land, using her powers to summon monsters. Overall though, I think Vivi’s personal challenge is the most heartbreaking, since early in the game, he finds out that he and the rest of his kind are actually human-made war machines. Later though, he starts to accept that he was made, but he also comes to terms with his death. The personal crises don’t just stick with the good guys. Kuja, who is one of the main antagonists, deals with fear of being powerless. This leads to a very heart-touching story of friendship, love, death, and coming to ones terms of responsibility. The overall story is one of my favorites to read about. To be honest, I have found myself crying a lot at these moments in the game, especially when Vivi comes to term with the fact that he will die. It just shows that the story in the game pulls you into its binding ways.

However, this epic story isn’t without its kinks and bad parts, which I really hate to exploit since I love this game so much. The whole learning ability by equipping items is tedious, since for one part of the game, I didn’t know that you had to do that and went through two of the Black Waltzes with Vivi, only learning fire and fira. It’s overly tedious, and it kind of halts the game since you have to keep equipping and unequipping items to keep learning abilities. I also hate how some people just disregard this game as a Final Fantasy game. All the complaints I hear are how stupid it looks and how it isn’t futuristic like the two previous games. It wasn’t meant to be futuristic people! It’s a nod to the last 8 games that preceded it. I will go out on a limb and say that I HATE Final Fantasy 7 because of how overrated it is. I just don’t care for Sephiroth or Cloud, or even Aeris. Yes, it’s sad that Aeris died, but come on! It’s been 13 years since it’s been released. I dare you guys to play it again and see what you think. It’s also interesting to note that the series creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, has said multiple times that Final Fantasy 9 is his personal favorite. I have to agree since this is what Final Fantasy should be. Why is it turning so futuristic? Why does everyone look so J-pop? What happened to the black mages and the summoners? Don’t get me wrong though. I am interested in playing Final Fantasy 13 that is already out, but for now, Final Fantasy 9 is my personal favorite, and will always have a close place of my gaming heart.

Overall, if I haven’t said it enough, Final Fantasy 9 is my personal choice as the best Final Fantasy game, and is a very great game to have in your collection. It can be about 40 bucks, but if you can find it for cheaper price, then I say pick it up. It’s truly an adventure, and a wonderful game to play. Let’s hope Final Fantasy 13 will be good, and not horrible like Final Fantasy 12.

This game gets a 9.9 out of 10

Hanheld Adventure Part 6: One PIece for the GBA

I have said in a past review that one of my favorite cartoons is One Piece. I don’t feel like I need to repeat what I like about it when you can read my One Piece Unlimited Adventure on the Wii review. However, I will have to say that there are not a lot of good One Piece games. The two One Piece fighting games for the PS2 are only good as rentals and are basically Power Stone clones. However, when I saw that there was a One Piece game for the Gameboy Advance, I got curious and decided to rent it. How does it fare though?

The main story of One Piece on the Gameboy Advance basically tells the story from when Luffy starts off to where he first meets the navy captain, Smoker. It doesn’t go that far, but then again, when this game came out, the anime was fairly new to the US. Well, it was new for people who had never seen it before. I kind of have to fault it for this reason, because it seems pointless to make an anime that follows the same plot as the anime series. For example, let’s take the first Fullmetal Alchemist game for the PS2. It had its own story while staying faithful to the series. Anyway, let’s just get into the game play.

The game play featured in One Piece is of a plat-forming beat em’ up where you play as Luffy as you go across multiple levels, beating down on pirates and their second-in-command, and of course the captains themselves. Your main form of attack is your stretching abilities that make your punches stronger. You have your basic punch and rapid punch, but since you do have a rubbery body, you get special attacks, but you have to perform combos to do those special attacks. During the game, you will also pick up your friends Zoro, Nami, Usopp, and Sanji. Now, instead of being able to play as these diverse and fun characters, they act more like an assist attack, like in Marvel V.S Capcom 2, where an ally can come in quickly and attack, except that THAT game is awesome. While you are running around the levels, you can find stuff inside treasure chests and boxes. The stuff in the treasure chest is treasures you can have in the collection. The other stuff in the crates are basically stuff like food, extra continues, and more power to the power par. On the bottom left part of the screen, there is part of a steering wheel for a ship and a sort of power bar. The bar will keep increasing as you attack and wail on your opponents. This is basically how you can perform super moves and the assist attacks I mentioned above. You can also use the R button to use a grab attack, where you can grab onto poles, and send yourself flying into the enemies, just like how Luffy does it in the anime.

The graphics for the game are pretty good. The animations are fluid and clear and the game looks like the anime itself. Every character looks like themselves, and they attack like they would in the anime. I also like how you can send yourself flying into enemies, since in the anime, Luffy has done that quite a lot. It’s quite funny. The music is also very cheerful, but forgettable. The plat forming sections are fun and can be pretty challenging.

As you may have guessed, I do have a couple gripes with the game, and I might be a little harsh about it, but that’s how I feel and it’s my opinion. The game itself is pretty hard, but not fun hard. It’s more on the line that your character has a poor attack range. To pull off the other moves in the game, you have to do combos, and combos just don’t work on a handheld that only has two face buttons. Let’s take another game that is based off of an anime, Astro Boy Omega Factor. It had a simple fun beat ‘em up style and the super moves are easy to use. The super moves for One Piece however are hard and awkward to pull off. It seems like they should have gone with a simple beat em’ up style instead of making the game hard. There is also no block moves! This becomes extremely annoying when you fight ranged enemies, and last time I checked, Luffy could deflect bullets! His body is made of freaking rubber! They should easily just bounce off him! The game then becomes frustratingly hard when you come up to Buggy the clown pirate, who can separate his body into pieces and you can’t directly hit him every time. He is extremely hard, and it took me forever just to get past him. That’s what the rest of the game is like, a frustrating difficult adventure. It seems like this game was aimed towards kids, but I think its actually too tough for kids.

Overall though, this is just an average game that will ultimately age to dust and not be remembered as well as other games. It is worth a rental, but that’s it. This game is like a waste of time. You are better off playing Super Mario Advance and Astro Boy Omega Factor. I hope the new One Piece game for the Wii, Ultimate Cruise EP. 1 and 2 will be better than this game.

This game gets a 5.9 out of 10

Heavy Rain for the PS3

Video games. All you need is a controller and a television and you’re all set! Well, you also need the console and the game, or else you aren’t going far. It seems like today in games, we know what to expect. When we see Halo or any other FPS game, we

know what we are going to be doing. That is just an example to prove my point that developers today are not being that adventurous with ideas. We have games like Street Fighter, Super Mario, and God of War, and we know what we are going to expect from games that leech off those games trying to be successful. Then, we have games like Dragon’s Lair, D, and Brutal Legend, where they take a different approach to games that we know by heart, and instead give us something different in those respective genres. Most of the time it works, and then there is the area that just sucks, like D (no offense to anyone who does like it). One style of games that I wish we could see more is the ones like Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, which are represented as “Interactive Movies”. Luckily, it’s 2010, and we finally have something like that, and it’s done well! This next game I’m going to review is something I haven’t been excited about before, until I actually checked out some videos of it. So, here is my review on the new PS3 exclusive, Heavy Rain.

The story of Heavy Rain is vast and complicated, with multiple events and multiple scenarios, but I will sum it up in one paragraph. Heavy Rain takes place in a city that looks like New York City, but it’s not fully clear where it takes place. An ongoing murder spree is happening, where small kids are getting murdered by someone named the Origami Killer. The story revolves around multiple characters, Ethan Mars, an architect that loses his first son and finds his second son missing, Madison Paige, a journalist, Scott Shelby, an ex cop turned private investigator, and Norman Jayden, a FBI agent who has a drug addiction. While these characters may not seem to have anything in common with one another, their connections will show up when you play the game. It’s funny when I played this game, it had a mixing feeling of Criminal Minds, CSI, Law and Order, thrown in with a little Die Hard. If you don’t know what I mean, then GO PLAY THE GAME! I do not recommend looking up the ending on Youtube or Wikipedia, since it just ruins the experience and shows you’re a lazy good-for-nothing. Unless of course you don’t have a Playstation 3, then that issue is different.

The game play featured in Heavy Rain is a bit of a mixed bag. It has adventure elements, action elements, puzzle elements, and interactive drama elements. Think of it as a huge interactive cut scene like Dragon’s Lair, but in a Law and Order, Criminal Minds, Die Hard, and CSI setting, except that you don’t have amazingly awesome action moves like in Die Hard. You basically go through a pretty lengthy game, which in my experience, could take a couple days to beat since you want to see what events will happen if you do a specific action. I say that, because whatever you do in the game will set the ending and future events in the game. You basically have control of the characters, but you will mostly be going through a lot of very fast quick-time events where you will need to press buttons, push the control stick, left, right, up, and down, tilt the controller to the left, and you get the idea. Heavy Rain does take advantage of the six-axis control scheme, which seems to be missing in a lot of PS3 games. You will also be going through some obstacles to get to a piece of the puzzle, and it can get pretty intense if you get hit, or miss a button command. I’m not saying it’s a super hard game, but it isn’t an easy game either, since sometimes you are timed to do some thing like rub off fingerprints before the cops arrive, or make one of the characters escape the police, or someone who is chasing them or getting chased by you. Like I said, it’s basically a huge interactive cut scene, but I like that.

Before I keep going on about the graphics and such, I want to talk about something that I think the industry must try. I think developers should try something new, like what Heavy Rain has done. I think they need to stop making first-person shooters and other genres so much, and focus on a different genre. Let’s take Super Mario Galaxy. Out of the ocean of FPS games in the market, Super Mario Galaxy was something different and was extremely fun. It seems like we keep getting more and more shooter games or really bad movie games. It’s only when someone actually has the brains to actually notice, “Hey, I got an idea, let’s stop making shooter games and make a Plat-forming action game.” or something like that. It annoys the heck out of me when I see commercials for games like Call of Duty or Left 4 Dead, since we know they are going to be shooters and we will have to kill a bunch of computer characters. It just gets redundant, since it also seems like we get so many futuristic shooters ever since Halo came out. Don’t get me wrong, I somewhat enjoy shooters, but we are getting as many of them as bad movie-licensed games every year. I mean it is hard to make a completely original game, but the people at Quantic Dreams who are famous for motion capturing, and games like Omikron: the Nomad, and Fahrenheit have done that. They did something different, why can’t you developers?! If developers can do this, then the industry wouldn’t be in such a rut with so many Guitar Heroes and Rock bands and shooter games devouring the market! It’s those games and genres that are putting the industry in such a freaking rut! I’m going to stop myself here since this is bringing out the worst in me. Let’s continue with the review.

The graphics are some of the best the Playstation 3 has to offer. Everything is beautifully detailed and it just looks amazing. I think these graphics are about as good as Uncharted 2 or God of War 3’s graphics. The people at Quantic Dream definitely knew what they were doing. The game is even more realistic with everyone being motion captured. The voice work is also very well done, with voices from Pascal Langdale, Jacqui Ainsley, Leon Ockenden, and Sam Douglas. The supporting voice cast is also good. The music is just wonderfully orchestrated. It fits every scene you see. Another thing I like is how different this game is. I bet at first a lot of people were like “oh this is a horror survival game.” While I can see where they were going with this, I think people were, well, WAY off.

Sadly, the rain falls hard on the bad parts. The real only thing I can complain about are the controls. They can get a little finicky, since you have to press R2 to make your character move. What was so hard about just using the left analog stick? The signs that float around your character to give you choices, or that are quick-time events are sometimes not fully clear or visible, and I often got myself hurt or messed up because the symbols were either too small or the commands weren’t as clear. A small thing about this game is that a huge chunk of people will love this game, but a good chunk of people will hate it since it’s so different. If you like games like Shenmue, then I think you would love this game.

Overall, Heavy Rain was one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I have ever played. It’s so unique and different from all the Guitar heroes, Rock bands, and shooter games that come out EVERY YEAR. I would highly recommend buying this game, or at least checking it out. It is expensive since it is a new game, but I would totally go get it. A heads-up to parents though, is that it’s a M-rated game and is full of drugs, sex, and violence. In this regard, I couldn’t recommend it to people under 17 or so. I hope Quantic Dream does something like this for a sequel in the future after they are done with Omikron 2.

This game gets a 9.8 out of 10

Dragon's Lair 3D for the Gamecube, PS2, Xbox, and PC review

A knight fighting a dragon is awesome. A knight fighting a dragon in a video game is even more awesome. Now, a knight fighting a dragon in Dragon’s Lair is amazing. Dragon’s Lair was an old 80’s arcade game, where you would control a knight known as Dirk the Daring, who is trying to save a pretty hot princess known as Daphne from an evil dragon. The basic rules of the game were to watch the cartoon, then when a specific scene occurs, you have to press the button or do the right action to keep playing, or else Dirk would die. It was based around trial-and-error kind of game play. It’s definitely a classic arcade game that is well known among retro gamers and modern gamers alike. An interesting thing is that there is one sequel to this game known as Dragon’s Lair: Time Warped, but I don’t think it is as well known as the original. The original Dragon’s Lair would be ported over multiple times to where it would be a super pixilated version of itself or it would be a side-scrolling action game like Castlevania or Ghost and Goblins. It’s interesting that there is even a sequel to the game because typing this opening paragraph, I didn’t even know about it. Either way, Dragon’s Lair could be a franchise, but then that would ruin its uniqueness. There is actually a 3D game in the series known as Dragon’s Lair 3D: Return to the Lair for the PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, and PC. How good is this game though? I mean how do you convert a cartoon to a 3D rendered video game?

The story of Dragon’s Lair 3D involves our brave hero, Dirk the Daring, running through a dark forest. He then hears the cries for help from his love, Princess Daphne, who is getting attacked by the dragon that you meet in the end of the first game. The dragon still carries the sexy princess through a portal that was conjured up by the evil wizard Mordoc. Sadly, our brave hero Dirk can’t enter the portal and slams right into it and falls backwards. He however gets a crystal from Daphne that he can communicate with her with, even though Dirk never really talks at all. He then goes to the evil castle where the dragon and the wizard are holding the princess, and it is up to Dirk to save her! It’s a timeless story that will not age horribly, IF you know how to create a story around that theme.

Dragon’s Lair 3D; Return to the Lair is an action adventure game where you go through the evil castle as Dirk the Daring, and you go around solving puzzles and fighting those purple goblin things from the game. During the game, you will be doing multiple puzzles that are homages to the original arcade game, like jumping from rope to rope on the platform, the knight that touches the ground and it becomes deadly, and other areas. In a way, this is a somewhat remake/sequel. It’s hard to explain. It plays and feels like a sequel, but it has a lot of the same puzzles and enemies from the first game. Your main form of attack is your sword. There is nothing special or powerful about it. You also gain special attacks that don’t at all copy Link’s attacks from the Zelda series. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, you are kind of like a simplified version of Link from the more popular Legend of Zelda series. You also gain a crossbow though, which Link never gets for some odd reason. I know there is Link’s Crossbow Training, but I’m not counting that one. During the game, you gain magical upgrades, like a fire sword and magic arrows. God, why am I thinking about the Legend of Zelda series? Oh well. While you do kill purple imp monsters, you move on to killing other enemies like dragons and evil knights.

The graphics for the game are “okay” by today’s standards. The entire design of the graphics look like the original game, though by today’s games, you can see how blocky Dirk looks. The music is not that bad. I mean, the songs in the game are short and tend to repeat a lot, but it’s nice to listen to. It’s not like stock music, like in the first Jak and Daxter game. I think the best feature this game has is the ending and opening animations. I say this because they are done by Don Bluth, the same guy who did the arcade versions of Dragon’s Lair 1 and 2, and Space Ace. I love his animation style, and he is world renowned for his stuff in the Rescuers and An American Tale. I think they still have a charm to them, even with all the high tech digital animation and such of today.

However, this game does have A LOT of shortcomings that keep it on that line of being a “below average game”. The first thing I noticed was the control setups. Who ever thought that the jump button needs to be what is usually the attack button? Why is the jump button now the attack button? It’s awkward as heck, and I end up getting hit before I can lash back at the monsters. Speaking of attacks, it always seems like the hit detection is in the hands of the monsters. I usually end up getting hit, even though my sword is bigger than the monster’s attack range. The control issue gets even worse when you find out how stiff you are. You actually move very slowly, and you can only run fast by pressing a button. Why can’t I just run already? The camera controls are also a little awkward when you’re going through the plat forming sections of the game. By far the biggest punch-in-the-face issue is that you can’t climb or grab anything when you have your sword out. I have never heard of anything that stupid! When you play Legend of Zelda games, you have the ability to put your sword away automatically without having to do anything, and to be able to climb and grab onto stuff without having to worry if your sword is out or not! This game is just built all wrong. You lose energy way too fast, it seems like the enemies have the upper hand, and the controls are all wrong! If they had ironed out these horrible aspects of the game, I would say this is an underrated classic with a good challenge, but all of the challenge comes from this game’s lack of polish!

Overall, this game is very bad, and I never want to play it again. I rather play the original arcade versions of Dragon’s Lair on the original arcade cabinet. It might cost me an arm and a leg to find one, but I’d rather do that than play this game again. The only charm it has is that it has animation from Don Bluth. I think this game deserves to be on my blacklisted list of bad games along with the Genesis version of Virtua Fighter 2, Superman Shadow of the Apokolip, and the arcade version of Bionic Commando. I’m not going to give this game a low score like the three I listed above for the sole reason that it has a certain charm to it, even if that charm is overshadowed by crap.

This game gets a 4.8 out of 10

Dante's Inferno for the PS3 and Xbox 360 review

It has only been two months into the year, and we have had a lot of action games come our way. We first got Darksiders from Vigil games, then we got Bayonetta from Platinum Games, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle from Grasshopper Manufacture, and now we have another action game in the form of Dante’s Inferno for the Playstation 3 and Xbox360. Now, a lot of criticism has revolved around this game in the form of being a God of War clone. Well, I would have to disagree, but also agree at the same time, but before I get into that part of my review, let’s dive into the story. Is this game worth picking up? Or is it lost in the circles of Hell?

The story takes place during Dante’s part in a war in the city of Acre where he is assassinated by an unknown person and is now dead. As Death comes to pick up his soul, Dante does the most logical thing, fight and kill Death himself, and take his cool looking scythe. As he rides on home to see his love, he finds that his father is killed and Beatrice is also found dead outside the home. Her soul then appears before Lucifer takes her down into Hell, where Dante gives chase. Dante must find his love and save her soul before something happens. It’s interesting, since I have read Dante’s Inferno, and it’s nothing like this, but I can see why they gave the story a somewhat action-game feel. Visceral Games made this game. They are famous for the famous Dead Space series and the two Godfather games.

The Gameplay featured in Dante’s Inferno is a hack-and-slash action game, like Bayonetta, Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry, and of course, God of War. Your main form of attack is Death’s scythe that can stretch and has a pretty big attack range. Your other form of attack is an unlimited-powered cross from Beatrice. This acts as your long-range attacks. During the game, you will pick up four different magical powers that come in pretty handy in situations with stronger enemies. While exploring the circles of Hell, you can find relics with which Dante can equip himself to make himself stronger in some areas, like stronger magic, better defense, and what not. There are, of course, quick-time events that can take care of the monsters, but these are unique. You can either kill the enemy with the cross or your scythe. If you do the quick-time event with your scythe, you gain unholy points where you can upgrade your scythe. If you use your cross, you gain holy points to upgrade your cross. You will also find souls that are trapped in the different circles of Hell that you can either kill with your scythe or purify their soul with your cross. You will also have to do some major puzzle solving, like pulling levers and moving stuff, and avoiding the fires and spikes that can kill you. In some other areas, you can ride the Minotaurs, and even phlegyas for a short period of time.

A definite high note for the game is the visuals. Everything is very creepy and disturbing looking, and I just love the designs for all the monsters and bosses. Dante looks really cool, and Lucifer looks creepy. This game does do a good job at grossing you out, especially with the glutton monsters. Ugh. Those are just super gross monsters. The music is also very dark and creepy, kind of like the music from God of War. The composer for the music is Garry Schyman. He is known for soundtracks for the Destroy all Humans series, Voyeur 1 and 2, and Bioshock. The voice work is also well done, with everyone having a voice actor that pretty much fits his or her role.

Now, it is time to talk about the bad parts of this game. I hope I don’t go to Hell for this. The overall feeling of the game is very God of War and Ninja Gaiden-like, but I’m not going to hold this against the game. The puzzles in the game really halt the pace of the game from time to time. I just did not like going through many of the puzzles. In the second to last circle of Hell, is the circle of Fraud, and you have to go through 10 different challenges. The second challenge is probably the most annoying challenge ever, and it is just not that fun to do a 100-hit combo when it’s really hard to do so. I think they should have used the Glutton monster more often, because I really like the design for the monster itself. I would have just made Dante fight a monster made of all the bosses you have fought so far, instead of some of the challenges in this section. For now, the replay value is very thin. Until the DLC or unless you get the Divine Edition for the Playstation 3, there isn’t much of a reason to play through it again. Why didn’t they throw in different armors or more weapons, like in God of War or Ninja Gaiden? This game has been known as a God of War clone, but I like this kind of combat. It’s now mainstream for an action game to be like this, since a lot of other games have done it, like Conan, and Hellboy the Science of Evil. What I’m trying to say is that it’s pointless to call this game a God of War clone since other games have somewhat the same style of game play.

Overall, Dante’s Inferno is pretty good. Most of my expectations were met when I played through the game, but there are some disappointments that hold it back from being a super title to get right away. Either way, it is really worth checking out. If you do buy it, I wouldn’t feel disappointed, since I would recommend this over Army of Two: the 40th Day and Dark void combined. It has a good combat system, great acting, and a solid ending. It leaves itself open for a sequel, and we will have to see what they do IF they make a sequel. I hope they do, because I think they have a good potential franchise at Visceral Games, and not just Dead Space.

This game gets a solid 8 out of 10.

Dark Void for the PS3 and 360 review

I will not beat around the bush with what I am about to say. Making video games is HARD. Making video games into reality is even harder. There is so much that goes into planning a game and making it reality. There is also the chance that the game will not turn out well at all, even after 2 years of development or so. A good example of this is Dark Void for the Playstation 3 and Xbox360. After its release, it has gotten mixed, but mostly negative reviews. Most of the time, most gamers in my opinion don’t know how hard it is to make a full game. I took two semesters of game-related classes, and I even typed up my own game design document, and it was a lot of hard work. It’s still sad though, when a game has a lot of hype and then disappoints in the end. Since I mentioned Dark Void, how about we make that the next review?

The main story of Dark Void takes place in the 1940’s during WWII. The story settles around a cargo pilot named William Gray. He is accompanied by an ex girlfriend as they make a delivery to who knows where. They then fly through the Bermuda Triangle, and stuff goes crazy. It’s not like we haven’t seen that before when someone goes through the Bermuda Triangle. The two then crash-land somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle, only to find out that cooler-looking terminators have taken over the area, mostly killing anyone or enslaving them. It is up to Will, with the help of Nikola Tesla, to help the freedom fighters that are there to destroy the aliens and get out of the Bermuda Triangle. Is it just me, or does this sound like some kind of sci-fi film that would star Bruce Campbell or Brad Pitt?

The game play featured in Dark Void is a mix between a third-person-shooter and a strategy fighter of some sorts. You take control of our main hero Will, as he now wears a cool helmet and jet pack, which looks pretty cool, you have to admit, as you run and fly around, shooting aliens that are actually slugs and lizards in metal suits. The terminator thing was just a joke. You have your basic armory, like a machine gun, shotgun, and the bare essentials. Will can also use alien weaponry, like a lightning gun, which reminds me of a gun from Killzone 2 and a gravity gun. Though you will mostly care about what you can do with the jetpack. You can, of course, fly around like you’re Iron Man, but you can also hover around and use the little machine guns that are on your jetpack to shoot down enemy airships. You can hang from ledges and do some vertical third-person-shooting, which is a cool idea, in my opinion. You can also do a melee attack that will quickly finish off weaker enemies. When you’re in the air, you can hijack enemy planes, which changes the game play a little, but I think I would rather fly around in a jet pack.

The graphics in the game are nice, but they don’t do anything special, like Uncharted 2 or God of War 3 has done, though I will make the argument that they are A LOT better than the graphics in Haze. The voice work is well done, with Will voiced by Nolan North, who is famous for doing the voice of Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series, Elliot Salem from Army of Two: the 40th day, and Desmond Miles from the Assassin’s Creed series. The script is not the best, but is something you would expect from a sci-fi flick. I still like the design of the helmet and the jet pack, because of how it reminds me of movies like The Rocketeer and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

However, there are a lot of rough edges with this game that give it its low scores from over the world. The game is rather short, and can be beaten in a day or two. There also happens to be a lot of things that remind me of other games. The one I think that stands out the most is where Will is inside a pod-like thing, getting taken around the alien’s base. Doesn’t anyone see that it looks like a scene from Half-Life 2? That is just my thought. Actually, a lot of things remind me Half-Life 2, the gravity gun thing you get seems like it was a prototype of the gravity gun you can get in Half-Life 2. During the last part of the game, it seems like the story kind of fell flat and burned out, even before the game ended. In the end, I felt cheated, and I think it’s because they just ran out of time down at Airtight Games which is known for Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge. That is what this whole game seems like, they just ran out of time. The enemy variety is just small. Melee attacks and blind shooting seems WAY too effective. It gets repetitious, and they didn’t have time to make the script not sound like a movie you see on the sci-fi channel.

Dark Void, in the end, falls short and is maybe the worst of the games that were released in January, but it is worth at least one rental. I have to admit it’s a very cool idea, but it just wasn’t executed well. If they do make a sequel, I hope they do a good job of it. Like I said, it’s a cool idea, just not done well.

This game gets a 6.7 out of 10

Thoughts on the new Batman game coming out

As you all know from my Batman Arkham Asylum review, I LOVED that game. It was one of the best games I have ever played in 2009. We then got an unexpected surprise from the Spike Video Game Awards that gave us an unexpected cheer of joy. This joy can only be known as the SEQUEL to Arkham Asylum. I was totally hooked, and I just got excited from all the possibilities of what they could do. I then thought, “ What would I like in a sequel to Arkham Asylum?” I decided to list a few things that I would like to see.

Let’s start with the setting of the next game. The trailer showed us that we are not going to be on the island asylum anymore. Arkham Asylum is now an entire area of the Gotham city. I wouldn’t mind a free-roaming game-like setting, or a much longer linear adventure than the last game. If they made this next game free-roaming, they would have to put up multiple side quests, like in games like Assassin’s Creed 2 or Spiderman 2 the Video Game. The missions might get repetitious, but they could make them unique by making each group of grunts working for a specific villain like Penguin or Mr. Freeze. If they make it a long linear game, then that would be fine, but they would probably set up the game like Castlevania Symphony of the Night or the other later Castlevania games.

Next, let’s talk about the main heroes of this next game. I think they could include people of the Batman universe, like the Gotham Police force, Batgirl, Nightwing, and the third Robin. Outside the Batman universe, I think they don’t need to bring in heroes who have super powers. They could easily add Huntress, the Question, Hourman, and Wildcat. I don’t think heroes like Superman, Green Lantern or other heroes who have super powers need to be included. However, if they bring in villains who use magic-like powers, like Ra’s al Ghul, then I think they could throw in Zatanna or Doctor Fate, but this doesn’t need to be something like the TV show, Batman: the Brave and the Bold. They could even do something like what Resident Evil does, where you can play through a special mode in the game with the heroes I listed. They could also do a different mode where you play as the villains.

Since we just talked about the heroes, let’s talk about the villains! The first game had a good amount, but I found the roster to be very thin. The trailer did give us hints of some villains, like the Penguin and Catwoman. I think they could easily have Killer Croc, Scarecrow, and Bane easily return, but I think there needs to be more. I think they should add villains like Mr. Freeze, Killer Moth, Doctor Double X, Firefly, Copperhead, Clay Face, Toy Man, Two Face, Man-Bat, The Terrible Trio, and have The Riddler make a facial appearance along with Scarface. I think one villain I was most surprised not to see in the first game, besides Killer Moth, is the Mad Hatter. The Mad Hatter can use mind control and dress up a certain area of Gotham, like the book he is from. The grunts could wear disturbing psychotic versions of characters from the book also, which would be amazingly creepy and scary. Another thing is that Killer Moth could use the Titan serum to make himself into a humanoid moth, or make an army of mutated super moths or something. Black Mask could be the one helping the Joker out in the end, since I think Black Mask could easily be a great main antagonist working for the Joker alongside Harley Quinn, though I think there would be backstabbing involved with either Black Mask or the Joker. A weird story element that could happen is that the character Red Hood could appear, since in the comic books, Red Hood is Joker or Robin. It depends on which one you have seen this character in.

More Gadgets would also be nice. It would be cool if we could throw the explosive gel at enemies, or have a powerful tazer-like weapon. A jet pack would also be cool to have. Maybe different batman outfits like a freeze resistant suit with fire like gadgets for fighting Mr. Freeze, or maybe a heavily armored suit to fight Bane and other super muscular villains would be great. I think they should also keep the upgrading style, but make it easier to upgrade if they give us a bigger cast of villains, since it seemed to take forever to upgrade everything in the last game. They could also use more of the vehicles, like maybe use the Batmobile to help out with huge groups of villains, or maybe have a bat cycle to get to areas faster.

Overall, if they do ANY of the stuff I have listed, then I will be a happy camper, but I can see them doing a lot of what I listed for the sequel, and hopefully other games to make this a franchise, which would be awesome.

Freaknik: The Musical Review

I’ve been doing reviews for a while now. I have over 100 reviews, and I still have a huge list of games that I have to play and review. Recently however, I was thinking about doing other reviews, like of shows I like or something. I had a couple of ideas about what to do, but I didn’t know when to start. I recently saw a very interesting animation called Freaknik the Musical on Adultswim on March 7th. It then struck me that this would be a great way to start a different line of reviews. Let’s get started with this thugalicious rapping all-star musical.

The story starts off at a random house party thrown by these two guys who are actually a parody of Will Smith and Alfonso Robeiro from when they were in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The house party however turns out to be boring as heck. Even someone dies of boredom. Someone at the dull house party then speaks of something called Freaknik. The rest of the people however dismiss the fact that it ever existed. Then, out of nowhere, a crazy old man who is voiced by Lil Jon barges in and tells them the legend of Freaknik. After a fortunate accident that gets rid of the two lame house hosts, the rest of the people there circle up and summon the spirit of Freaknik. The whole world goes crazy as the spirit of Freaknik, voiced by T-Pain, decides to throw the world into a crazy party, where everyone starts dancing and going crazy for the return of Freaknik. On the other side of the spectrum are our three main protagonists, Big Virgil who is voiced by Young Cash, Light Skin voiced by Cee-Lo Green, and Big Uzi voiced by Rick Ross. All three of the guys are rappers living on rent control in a large house owned by one of their friends who grows weed. After hearing Freaknik announce a “battle of the bands”-like contest, all four of our heroes decide to get into their van and make it to the contest to win the ultimate prize.

Along the way, they meet some pretty interesting characters from a frat house that parties a lot, a ghetto Jesus, a copy cat crew that looks like a cleaned-up version of our heroes, funkadelic aliens, and an evil organization that tries to kill Freaknik. It plays out like any plot, like road-trip/buddy movies, with twists and turns that keep the story moving. The movie mostly focuses on the four guys who are trying to get to the contest, but keep getting into trouble. While that is going on however, the whole world is in love with Freaknik, since he has brought a lot of positive vibes and love back to the world, and the things he has done to make it better. The evil organization I mentioned is called the Boule. For some reason or another, they want to take down Freaknik so they can have control over all the African-American people again, instead of Freaknik sharing the love to everyone. Of course, in the end, the main heroes make it with the help of interesting characters, and save Freaknik from getting destroyed for good by the Boule.

The animation is rather unique, and I like the over-exaggerated character designs. I think one of my favorite designs for the characters has to be Freaknik himself. He is a black ghost with dollar signs and gold teeth. Of course, you can see him in the poster above. I like this style of designs since it’s more cartoonish, and this whole movie is supposed to be a little exaggerated and over the top. While I am not a big a fan of rap as I used to be, I find the soundtrack, as a whole one hour film, fun to listen to, and I have actually had a few of the songs stuck in my head. I also found the humor to be foul most of the time, but clever and funny. I laughed during the scene where they are in the ghettos and big Uzi goes, “ I didn’t know that the sun shines in the ghettos.” And then the moon shoots the sun down. I also found it funny in the scene when the character that is voiced by Young Cash gets out of the car to ask for directions even after being warned about not getting out of the car in the ghettos, and a servant of the ghetto Jesus stops him at gunpoint. The voice cast is actually amazing and huge. They have rappers like Lil Jon, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dog, and some comedians like Andy Samberg and Charlie Murphy, who all do a very wonderful job voicing the characters.

However, there are some things I don’t like. I hate how this was only an hour long. I think they could have easily made it two hours long. I say this because it seems rushed, and some characters didn’t seem necessary because of how short the special was. Now, I know that rap music has a lot of foul words in it, but I think they could have downplayed the “N” word a little, but I digress since rap music is about the struggle of getting from the ghettos and poverty to where they are now and what not.

Overall, I found Freaknik the Musical to be a fun and enjoyable one-hour flick. It comes back on March 11th if you want to see it. I will warn you though, that there is a lot of foul language, and I mean a lot. I wonder if they will do a series with this idea since I wouldn’t mind watching another music-based show like Brendon Small’s Metalocalypse. I hope they also come out with this on DVD.

This special gets a 9.4 out of 10