Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013)


The (Hopefully Temporarily) Best Game on the X-Box One!

Lego Marvel Super Heroes (2013)I’ve had my Xbone for a few months now and thus far I’ve been fairly disappointed with what it has to offer.  Not as a system itself; that has been fantastic.  What disappoints me is the lineup available for my next gen system.  I’ve played a few games on the system already and have found the results typically mediocre.  The game I’m reviewing today has been available since the system’s launch, but I’ve never felt it was quite worth its price.  That was until my friend Bob, the Mayor of Krunkytown, told me that I needed it.  Well, you don’t argue with a mayor and so I went out and purchased Lego Marvel Super Heroes, developed by TT Games, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and starring the voices of Stan Lee, John DiMaggio, James Arnold Taylor, Clark Gregg, John Eric Bentley, Dee Bradley Baker, Roger Craig Smith, Troy Baker, Fred Tatasciore, Nolan North, Laura Bailey, Kari Wahlgren, Travis Willingham, and Phil LaMarr.

It would probably be too hard to go too in depth with the story of this game.  Not because it’s particularly complicated, but because I would have to list too many damned names.  The quick break down is that a bunch of supervillains are getting together to steal cosmic bricks in order to build the “Doom Ray of Doom” to defeat Galactus (John DiMaggio) the World Devourer in hopes that it will make the people of Earth fall in line and worship their saviors.  Little do they know that they are being played by the Asgardian God of Mischief Loki (Troy Baker), who intends to harness the power of Galactus to destroy Earth and Asgard.  But Marvel comics doesn’t just make villains, do they?  HELL NO!  AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!  …And a lot of other heroes too!

This is hands down the best game available on the Xbone.  That title is made much easier to achieve by having only 20 other titles to compete with, but that does not take much away from the acclaim.  I’ve always been fond of the Lego series.  I’ve never connected with them too drastically, but they’re typically cute and fun and they just keep getting better.  Some of their properties that they’ve made into Lego versions haven’t interested me too much, but this is Marvel.  Of course I’m in!  And it’s the best Lego game I’ve played.  The story is nothing too spectacular.  It’s basically just a “heroes save the world” deal.  Actually, it’s pretty much the story of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.  That’s really all it needs to be though.  What I appreciated about it is the funny little moments they can install into the story.  I still think I liked them better when they couldn’t talk because they were pretty good at adding comedy without it.  But they’re not too shabby with dialogue either.  Having Hulk yell, “HULK SMASH UGLY SIDEBURNS!” when he meets Wolverine is pretty funny.  They also used Nick Fury in some hilarious ways.  Though he had nothing to do with the game, the character of Nick Fury is typically played by Samuel L. Jackson, and Traveller’s Tales used that for some comedy that would be well over the heads of the children that might typically play their games, making some nice references to Pulp Fiction and Snakes on a Plane.

One of the things I appreciated the most about this game was the fan service.  They referenced everything they could think to reference from the Marvel universe, and more specifically the Marvel movies.  There was a part where the Hulk punches the Green Goblin as he punched Thor in the Avengers, Thor arrives into the game like he does in Thor: The Dark World and even in a similar setting, the Put Up Your Dukes level is right out of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, one of the times you rescue Stan Lee is a reference to when he drank the infected juice in the Hulk movie, the chess set where we find Stan at one point might be a subtle reference to his cameo in the Avengers, and the game even has a mid-credit sequence like the greater majority of comic book movies.  Also, there are achievements for doing the Fastball Special (throwing Wolverine at an enemy as Colossus) and for having Captain America and Human Torch on the same team (because both are played by Chris Evans in the movies).

Now, all of those references could not have been recognized if it were not for some extreme levels of nerdiness.  That nerdiness also caused a few problems with this game.  At one point, Gambit stops the Juggernaut dead in his tracks by dropping a chandelier on him.  As big of a fan of Gambit as I am, that just doesn’t happen.  Once the Juggernaut starts moving, nothing can stop him!  He’s the Juggernaut, bitch!  Also, why is the X-Men airplane called the X-Jet now?  Is it not still the Blackbird?  And since when is the X-Mansion on the island of Manhattan?!  I also had a lot of problems arise from what the characters were able to do.  First of all, Spider-Man has genius-level intellect.  Why do I have to switch to that lame ass Mister Fantastic in order to use a control panel?  And while we’re on the subject: I know you probably felt the need to make Mister Fantastic seem useful, but since when can he turn himself into complex machines like an electric screwdriver?  That doesn’t even make sense!  …The rest of the game is perfectly logical to me though…  I also thought Mystique should’ve been more useful.  She can basically just sneak past things.  Shouldn’t she at least be able to turn into people with claws to use the claw switches?  She turned into Wolverine and had claws in the first X-Men movie!  I also didn’t like that Jean Grey didn’t have the special senses to detect switches like Spider-Man and Wolverine.  How does that make sense?  She has EXTRA Sensory Perception!  That’s like two more sensories!  And even worse, how can she take fire damage when you pick the version of Jean Grey that’s the Phoenix?  She flew into the Sun as the Phoenix!  And how does Iron Man get frozen?!  He fixed that icing problem in Iron Man 1!  And how does Magneto not fly?!  I AM THE KING OF NERDS!!

Admittedly, the look of the game doesn’t quite live up to next gen expectations.  It looks about as good as recent Lego games have on current/previous gen consoles.  It’s the look they’re going for and I don’t really knock it for that.  It’s kind of for kids, so it’s supposed to have a really colorful and not necessarily photorealistic look.  Also, it’s a Lego game.  How do you go photorealistic with that?  And this one is different from any others I’ve played because they let you play around in a sandbox Manhattan between story missions, and that is just fine by me.  I got to jet through the streets as Iron Man and the Silver Surfer!  Although I was a little bit bothered that the Silver Surfer’s flying sounded a little like a vacuum cleaner.  Is he the Silver Maid or something?  I thought all maids were brown!  BOOM!

The game is really fun and kept me interested right up to the point where I got 100% on the achievements.  I can’t really keep wasting time on a game when I’m not getting no chievos no more!  There were a couple of minor problems with the game.  Sometimes the camera didn’t want to play along, or more accurately to let you see what you were playing.  I also had a common problem where my character would choose to target my ally relentlessly when I was surrounded by enemies.  I also got irritated in the first level because they kept putting up reminders when I was the Hulk that I could hold Y to turn back into Bruce Banner.  Why would I ever want to do that?  You realize that I’m currently the Hulk, right?

Lego Marvel Super Heroes is currently my favorite Xbone game by leaps and bounds.  It’s not hard to do when everything else on the system turned out to be okay at best, but the game is still entirely enjoyable.  The story is simple but peppered with some enjoyable humor, the game looks good though not quite next gen quality yet, and it’s lots of fun to play.  I got hours of enjoyment out of this game and lost track of most of those hours after I started playing and realized shortly after that it was 4 in the morning.  And it’s an easy 1000 achievements for you achievement whores like me.  Don’t try to act like you’re too adult to enjoy this game!  It’s fun for the whole family!  Lego Marvel Super Heroes gets “Excelsior!” out of “I’m still hungry!  I need something to eat!”

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013)


This is the World’s Only Certainty.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (2013)I’ve had my ups and downs with the Assassin’s Creed series in the past, but I’ve generally ended up liking them all.  Assassin’s Creed 3 was a little underwhelming, but the one part I did like seemed to have been turned into its own game with today’s game.  But the main inspiration for the purchase of this game was that it was one of the very few games releasing with the Xbox One that I was interested in.  I needed games to make my investment in the Xbone seem worthwhile, and this game became one of the two.  This game is Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, developed by Ubisoft Montreal, published by Ubisoft, and including the voices of Matt Ryan, Olivia Morgan, Mark Bonnar, Oliver Milburn, Nolan North, Ed Stoppard, Ralph Ineson, Sarah Greene, O.T. Fagbenle, and Tristan D. Lalla.

Abstergo has taken a new approach at ruling the world by creating Abstergo Entertainment, who gets people to sift through the memories of the now-deceased Desmond Miles (Nolan North) by disguising them as video games.  I am so in!  Our character is an employee of Abstergo Entertainment assigned to explore the life of an eighteenth-century pirate named Edward Kenway (Matt Ryan), who later fathers Haytham Kenway, who later fathers Connor Kenway and stars in his own game.  As Edward, you kill an Assassin and assume his clothing, getting yourself wrapped up in a fight between the Assassins and the Templars.  Refusing to take a side, you spend more of your time aligning yourself with random pirates, such as Blackbeard (Mark Bonnar), Bartholomew Roberts (Oliver Milburn), Benjamin Hornigold (Ed Stoppard), Charles Vane (Ralph Ineson), Anne Bonny (Sarah Greene), “Calico” Jack Rackham (O.T. Fagbenle), and Mary Read (Olivia Morgan).  But, as his journey takes him closer to an ancient artifact known as The Observatory, his goals start to change from selfish ones to something more in line with a creed held by a certain group of people that kill another group of people.

I really liked this game.  It had similar problems that could be found in any of the other Assassin’s Creed games, but I would say the changes they made helped this game work out to be my favorite Assassin’s Creed game to date.  One of the things I’ve always had a problem with is the non-Assassin parts of these games.  That remains in this game.  I don’t know why.  They just slow the pace down on the parts I want to play.  This one was vaguely interesting in the Meta way they make their own company part of Abstergo Enterprises, but my interest didn’t get much further than that.  I still don’t know why they feel the need to have these sections.  Is anybody playing these games to find out what’s going on with Desmond?  Not me!  I’m here to jump off of buildings and stab people in the neck!  And didn’t I destroy the world at the end of the previous game anyway?  I don’t remember, and that’s probably because I don’t really pay attention to these sides of the story.  I liked the Edward Kenway parts a lot.  It was fun being a pirate.  They also had some emotional bits in the story that worked very well.    The way they handled Blackbeard’s fate was very well done and I wasn’t really expecting the reveal involving James Kidd even though the voice should’ve probably given it away.  The only real problem I had with the story is that they didn’t do anything with the Bermuda Triangle.  They were right there!  I went to Florida and everything!  Just seems like such a waste.

As with all of the Assassin’s Creed games, Black Flag looks great.  The only complaints I had were with some of the special armor you can unlock through collectables.  Both the Templar armor and the Mayan armor take a while and some doing to unlock, but getting them ruins everything.  You lose the trademark Assassin hood!  You can’t do that!  I’ve played like 6 games with that hood and I want it right where it is!  And do you know how ridiculous it looks to see Edward grab an invisible hood and pull it over his head because you didn’t change the character’s movements to account for you taking away the hood?  One thing I did appreciate was the sea shanties your crew would sing while you were piloting your ship.  It felt like a GTA radio station for the high seas.

I think the thing that helped this game win most of all with me is that it took all the things I liked from the previous game and built the game around it, and those things were the nautical battles.  I spent hours in this game avoiding the main story and sailing the high seas, looting and plundering ships that got in my way.  And the game seems aware of what drew me in because they started the game with it.  And I like almost all of the nautical battles.  Almost.  There were parts that caused me some frustration that I felt like I didn’t enjoy at the time.  For instance, I didn’t think the process of upgrading a ship made any sense.  Why am I going to a store and paying lots of money to upgrade my ship when I also have to supply the materials for the upgrade?  You don’t go to Best Buy to buy a movie and have to bring a DVD-R with you!  The crew system for your ship was fine.  You could either hire them from a bar or save them from guards or rescue them on the seas.  I preferred the last two options.  They had better fight harder for me if I saved their life instead of just giving them money to join.  The most frustrating thing about the nautical battles was the legendary ships you had to fight.  One of them had a really big ram on the front of their ship it would look to hit you with, and it was made even more annoying by the fact that this ram did not even need to touch you to do damage.  The game would count it as improved damage even when it hit you with its side.  Which TOTALLY makes sense.  And they were all pretty difficult.  I died a lot trying to battle them even with a fully upgraded ship.  I actually got the achievement when I didn’t deserve it because I had destroyed each of the two legendary ships that attack you simultaneously, even though I had never destroyed both at the same time.  But even with the achievement, I still felt like I owed them an ass-whooping so I kept coming back.  I eventually defeated them with extreme cowardice by dropping tons of explosives as I was trying to run away.  Like a boss.

There are other things to the gameplay, of course.  I liked that you can now see where all of the collectables are if you look around from the top of a viewpoint.  There’s still hunting in this game, but you don’t have to do it as much and it doesn’t deduct anything from you if you shoot them because you don’t want to fuck around and have to chase down an iguana.  I did find it extremely hard to find rabbits, especially for a creature that fucks like rabbits.  They should be everywhere!  The usual staple of the Assassin’s Creed games recently is to have some form of strategy game involving sending your crew out to do something for you while you continue with the game.  This game does that with something called Kenway’s Fleet, where you send out ships to do trades with other countries.  This was a forgettable experience, but only annoyed me because you couldn’t tell your ships which ship to fire upon.  It doesn’t make sense that my ships will shoot at different ships when they should be all trying to take out the giant Man O’ War.  Fuck the Schooner!  Let that little bitch shoot at me for a while.  I also still hate the gambling games they include.  Remember in my review for Assassin’s Creed 3 when I told you how I hate Nine Man Morris?  Well they brought it back.  And I still hate it.  But fortunately, there’s not an achievement for it so I didn’t really bother with it much.

Though Assassin’s Creed 4 doesn’t change drastically from the previous incarnations of the game, I would say that the things they did helped Black Flag wind up as my favorite Assassin’s Creed game to date.  The story still has the boring stuff outside of the life of the Assassin, but when you ignore that the story succeeds with a lot of interesting and emotional moments.  The look is as great as it typically is, and they made a smart decision to keep most of the controls the same but make the game a lot heavier with the nautical battles, which I found very satisfying.  Fans will already have purchased this game, and non-fans might not find it worth $60, but it’s been cheaper than that recently and this game is totally worth $40.  I was satisfied at $60.  Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag gets “It might be that this idea is only the beginning of wisdom, and not its final form” out of “In a world without gold, we might have been heroes.”

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Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition (2013)


It’s Not What I’m Doing … It’s What I’ve Done.

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition (2013)You could say that my sister has a bad habit of picking the worst game from my Christmas list to get me as a present.  I prefer to think that she has a gift for it, and that the bad habit is my naiveté for assuming I’ll like so many games.  If you’re up to date with my reviews, you’ll know that two years in a row my sister has given me a game that made it into my worst games of the year.  Last year was Twisted Metal, but this year she got me Injustice: Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition, developed by NetherRealm Studios, published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and starring the voices of George Newbern, Kevin Conroy, Adam Baldwin, Susan Eisenberg, Richard Epcar, Phil LaMarr, Neal McDonough, Joey Naber, Khary Payton, Mark Rolston, Tara Strong, Alan Tudyk, Stephen Amell, Troy Baker, Grey DeLisle, Jennifer Hale, J.G. Hertzler, Nolan North, and Fred Tatasciore.

In an alternate reality, the Joker (Richard Epcar) tricks Superman (George Newbern) into killing Lois Lane and destroying Metropolis, sending Superman off the handle to the point where he kills the Joker and establishes a new world order as the High Councilor.  In our reality, the Joker’s plan did not succeed, but did send the heroes from our world over to the other one, where they must join Batman’s (Kevin Conroy) insurgency and try to take down Superman’s regime.

There must be some sort of mistake.  I seem to not have taken any notes on the story of this game.  Of a fighting game!  They’re always so story-driven!  This game didn’t have a bad story (especially when you compare it to other fighting games), but it was fairly forgettable.  I guess I didn’t take any notes about it because it didn’t really make any impact on me one way or another.  It didn’t impress me as being particularly well-written, and I didn’t think of jokes to tear its shittiness apart.  It was roughly as good as any of those straight to DVD DC or Marvel movies.  Take that for what it is.

The thing that really makes or breaks a fighting game is the gameplay.  The problem with that when it comes to me reviewing them is I don’t really like fighting games.  I was interested enough to complete the story and beat the game with a couple of the individual characters to see their specific endings, but as with all other fighting games, once I hit that wall of boredom I hit it hard.  When I reach boredom with a fighting game, there’s no taking a break and coming back to it; I’m out.  Returning to the game is extremely painful at that point.  This game controls like most of the newer Mortal Kombat games.  There’re some punches and some kicks, a few special movies, and a super move for each character.  Nothing revolutionary.  I do like the fighting games that allow you to transition between different sections of the same level by knocking your opponent off of an edge, and this game does that as well.  Of course, once you’ve seen it once you can pretty much put a check mark behind that ‘cause it’s just going to be the same thing over and over.  There were a couple of notable changes to the fighting game mechanics that I noticed.  The first was the health bar system.  Unlike most fighting games that give each character a full health bar for each round, you’re given two from the beginning but do not get full health when you knock out one of the enemies’ health bars.  I actually liked this because it inspires you to do good all the way through as opposed to getting a fresh start because you just got KO’ed.  The other thing I noticed was the Wager system, which I hated.  It basically just gives the opponent the chance to prolong the battle by sacrificing their super bar.  They’re about to die, so they’re not going to need it, but you may have if you were trying to finish the game spectacularly with a super move.  Instead, they wager their entire super bar every time and you have the choice to either sacrifice your ability to do your super move or let them win, damaging you or healing them.  It just seemed like an unnecessary annoyance.

The characters were pretty good in the game.  It’s basically every notable character from DC comics, at least as far as I know.  I’ve never been that big of a fan of DC, but I certainly couldn’t think of anyone else from that universe that I would care to see in the game.  That basically means that Batman is in the game.  But I also resented Batman because they changed his default costume and made it look lame.  Thankfully, that could be repaired with alternate costumes, but you couldn’t fix how lame his super move was.  He basically just jumps up into the air and hits the opponent with the batmobile.  This is Batman we’re talking about!  Stupid ass Aquaman stabs the guy with a trident, hits them with a giant wave, and gets them eaten by a giant shark!  Wonder Woman’s super also sucks because it makes her seem like she needs help because she basically gets her Amazons to come in and beat your opponents ass.  It would’ve been less lame to involve that stupid invisible airplane she used to have.  But there were lots of characters to choose from, and even more because I got the Ultimate Edition.  That means I had even more characters to not care about.  Like Zatanna.  …Yay…

Injustice: Gods Among Us was a decent enough game for those who like fighting games, especially the Mortal Kombat games.  Unfortunately for it, this review was written by me.  I’m not that big of a fan of DC and I’m not that big of a fan of fighting games.  Kind of makes you wonder why I asked for this game in the first place, doesn’t it?  Well I am a complicated individual, but I will not complicate my review any more than I need to.  If you like DC and fighting games, buy it.  Otherwise, skip it.  Injustice Gods Among Us – Ultimate Edition gets “There is no justice!” out of “You could feel the love, right?”

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The Last of Us (2013)


People Always Talk About the Apocalypse Like It’s the End of the World.

The Last of Us (2013)I had a vague interest in today’s game for a while.  It looked interesting enough, but did not strike me as the greatest thing since sliced bread.  In its defense, I fucking love sliced bread.  Just think of how useful that stuff is!  Anyway, when the game came out, I was mildly interested, but more because I lacked anything much better to play at the time.  But then the world got involved.  The game received such massive praise around the time of its release that I knew what the world really needed: my opinion of it.  I finished this game a while ago, but was busy with my sister’s wedding and unable to finally let you all know how you should be feeling about this game.  Well the time has come for me to review The Last of Us, written by Neil Druckmann, developed by Naughty Dog, published by Sony Computer Entertainment, and starring the voices of Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, Merle Dandridge, Annie Wersching, Robin Atkin Downes, Hana Hayes, W. Earl Brown, Brandon Scott, Nadji Jeter, Jeffrey Pierce, Ashley Scott, and Nolan North.

We play primarily as Joel (Troy Baker), a single father living in Texas with his 12-year-old daughter Sarah (Hana Hayes).  Things are fairly normal for them until an outbreak of a mutated cordyceps infection breaks out around the United States, turning people all over the country into violent creatures bent on spreading their infection through bites and spores.  Let’s just call them “zombies” for short.  In the rush to escape the infection, Sarah is shot by a soldier trying to contain the infection and she dies in Joel’s arms.  20 years later, small pockets of humanity survive in contained quarantine zones.  Joel makes a living as a smuggler with his friend Tess (Annie Wersching).  A cache of weapons is stolen from them by an arms dealer named Robert (Robin Atkin Downes) and, in the process of hunting him down, they meet a leader of the Fireflies rebels named Marlene (Merle Dandridge), who promises them double their weapons for smuggling a teenage girl named Ellie (Ashley Johnson) outside the quarantine zone.    Joel reluctantly agrees at the behest of Tess.  They later find out that what makes Ellie so important is that she was once bitten by the cordyceps, but was found to be immune to the infection, making her the last hope that humanity has for destroying the infection once and for all.

My feelings about this game were pretty conflicted, and for pretty much the same reason that I have disliked quality games in the past.  My expectations were set too high.  I feel like, had I gone into this game completely ignorant to it, I would have loved it much more than I did.  As it was, I thought the game was really good, but it did not quite manage to live up to the hype.  The story was definitely the game’s primary selling point.  It was definitely solid.  Though I still have not gotten around to watching it, it felt to me like what I expect watching an episode of The Walking Dead would be like, especially around the times when Henry and Sam were around.  There’s a lot of emotion, a lot of dealing with surviving the threat at hand, and a lot of surviving the different sections of fallen humanity, such as soldiers, rebels, cannibals, bandits, etc.  The emotional part of the story starts off right away.  I was not expecting Sarah to die.  I thought this was the girl I had seen in the commercials or gameplay footage.  I was confused because I thought I heard her called Ellie, but they could’ve rewritten the name for all I know.  I didn’t get very attached to the daughter at first because, though they seemed to have a sweet relationship, she did throw “even though you’re never around” into a birthday letter to my character.  That’s not cool.  He probably feels horrible about it but doesn’t have a choice because he was a single dad that has to provide for his daughter.  I never threw that shit in my mom’s face because she was at work a lot.  Hell, I relished it because it meant more time to sit at home playing video games instead of doing my homework.  That woman cramped my style.  I don’t really consider it a spoiler to say that stuff about Sarah because it happens in the first few minutes of the game, but plenty of other people die in emotional ways.  I felt myself predicting a lot of them because these characters that the game acts like might be here forever were never seen in any of the trailers, but it was still done well and pulled a lot of emotion from the audience.  There were a lot of emotional moments between Joel and Ellie too, especially since Ellie seemed so desperate to be able to connect with Joel but he was intentionally closing that door because he didn’t want to get too attached.  The conversation between the two of them where Joel said, “You’re right: you are NOT my daughter,” was brutal.  It hurt MY feelings even though he wasn’t talking to me because I REALLY wanted these two to get into that father/daughter relationship that Joel so desperately wanted to squash.  Maybe my biological clock is ticking…  Also, at the very end of the game, how did Joel not clock the dude that hit him with the rifle butt because he was trying to save Ellie’s life?  I understand they turned out to be “friendlies,” but clock me AFTER I’ve saved the girl’s life, douchebag!

The visuals of the game are well realized, but not always pleasant to look at.  I guess you should expect that from dystopian settings.  But it did have a good amount of beautiful visuals as well.  Most of the rural areas are pretty grey and ugly (as they were intended to be), but the stuff in the wilderness was generally very pretty.  And since they went all the way across the United States and travelled through an entire year, the developers got to stretch their legs and show what they could do with all the changing seasons and environments.  Rural, sewers, streets, wilderness, forests, icy landscapes, they span a plethora of environments that are all well realized.  I guess the only problem I had with the look was the “secret tunnel” that we enter at one point.  You could see the edges of it behind the entertainment system shelf that was supposed to be concealing it.  I guess the education system suffers in the apocalypse.

I had very few problems with the controls, but they didn’t really take any chances here.  It was like Uncharted with less climbing and more stealth.  It’s safe, but it’s functional.  Stealth in this game (as stealth in most games as far as I’m concerned) can get a little frustrating for the less patient audiences (such as myself) but it’s not too painful, and it’s pretty necessary since the game decided that a few of the enemies you face can instantly kill you if they get too close.  That’s a little irritating as well, especially since it can sometimes be hard to tell which ones are the instant killing ones and which are the regular ones.  The thing I felt was most irritating was that this game was still trying to push Sixaxis on us.  It’s dead, Sony!  Let it go!  It does not immerse me more in the game to have to shake my controller as if it was my flashlight and we all know that gets your batteries working right.  Another problem I had was with ammo availability.  I’ve felt this about other games in the past, but if I kill someone that was just shooting at me, I want their ammo.  I know they have it; they were just throwing it at me.  Give it to me!

This does not seem like it’s a great game for trophies.  I’ve not come anywhere near getting them all yet, but just reading through them makes them seem daunting.  I’ve beaten the game, and I was trying to collect stuff and finish trophies, but I’m still at a meager 5%.  A lot of them are for collecting and beating the game 8 different ways (the difficulties do stack though) and crafting different items, but that is an awful amount to have beaten the game with.  I doubt I’ll ever get anywhere near finishing them.  I did like collecting the comic books because it made Ellie happy, but I didn’t find a single comic book while exploring the dorms in the Colorado college level.  Are you shitting me?  No one in a Colorado college reads comics?  Those kids don’t know how to party!

My enjoyment of The Last of Us was hindered by the overhyping it received, but not so much that I couldn’t still say it was a really good game.  The story was well written and actually able to illicit emotional responses from me, and the graphics were pretty outstanding when they got out of the bland cities.  I could have perhaps asked for a little more innovation out of the controls since they seemed to mainly stick with what was safe, and the trophies are way too much work for me, but I would say that this is a quality game.  I don’t know if I’d be prepared to say it was worth the full $60 for it, but if it drops even $10 on sale, I’d say that would be enough reason for you to pick it up for yourself.  The Last of Us gets “No matter what you have to find something to fight for” out of “It doesn’t matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.”

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PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (2012)


Sony’s Super Smash Brawl All-Stars Royale with Cheese.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (2012)When I learned of the existence of today’s game, I scoffed.  I had no interest in playing this game.  Well, that’s not necessarily true.  I actually have had interest in playing this game many times before, and I’ve enjoyed playing.  Problematically, I enjoyed playing these games when they were called Super Smash Brothers.  But this time PlayStation was doing it.  I still only decided to play this game because I have a somewhat underused Vita and my roommate gave me a code that would get me this game for free.  Consider yourself endorsed, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, developed by SuperBot Entertainment and SCE Santa Monica Studio, published by Sony Computer Entertainment, and including the voices of Eric Ladin, Sean Pertwee, Tim Phillipps, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Unshô Ishizuka, Josh Keaton, Max Casella, Sanae Kobayashi, Terrence ‘T.C.’ Carson, Jennifer Hale, Nolan North, Dred Foxx, Quinton Flynn, James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Stephen Fry, Stephane Cornicard, Kevin Miller, Marc Silk, J.S. Gilbert, and, of course, Mario.  No one is going to read through all those names to see that one joke.

…story…Hmmm…  Well, a while ago, a company made a game called Super Smash Brothers because they had been around long enough and had enough iconic, exclusive characters that a game could justify it.  Years later, another accomplished company took their few iconic exclusives, added some exclusives no one gives a shit about, and acted like another character or two were exclusive, and pretty much jacked Smash Brothers blatantly.  And you use those characters to reach the end and beat a disembodied head to make your character glow blue in his epilogue.

You will find that the biggest problem I had with this game is that it is Smash Brothers.  It is so blatantly and unforgivingly Smash Brothers.  I feel like I will use the word Nintendo in this review more than I will the word Sony.  I felt like the credit sequence was so painfully long because they also had to thank everyone involved in Super Smash Brothers.  It lasts like a half hour!  I could bust through the story in less time than I could the credits.  And to refer to what it had as a “story” is true exaggeration.  Every character, no matter how different, hears that something is happening where characters from different worlds are collecting.  They go, they fight, they have a brief, one-stage-long rivalry with a character, and then they fight a disembodied head.  Winning gives them some sort of power that makes them glow blue, in the still-frame ending movie, and then a half hour of credits.  And the final boss was so disappointing to me.  The disembodied head has nothing to do with any Sony product I’ve ever experienced.  It DOES have something in common with a certain Nintendo product that ends with a pair of disembodied hands and polygonal, colorless versions of the other characters in the game.  I will eventually remember the name of that game.  But I believe Sony missed a huge opportunity to make the final boss Kevin Butler.  That would have been fucking perfect!  …SMASH BROTHERS!  That was it.

I was vaguely surprised to see that Sony had actually pulled off a fairly strong set of characters for their Smash Brothers rip off, but they cannot justify it nearly as well as Nintendo could.  Kratos, Nathan Drake, Cole MacGrath, Sweet Tooth, someone from Killzone, Big Daddy and Dante (neither of which are Sony exclusive, by the way.  And didn’t Bioshock originally come out as an Xbox exclusive?), Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, PaRappa and Nariko (why does anyone remember these two?), Raiden (the least favorite of all Metal Gear characters, since Nintendo already had the most popular), Sackboy, Sly Cooper, Sir Daniel Whogivesafuck and Toro Whatthehell from Huh? for Red October.  I lost focus near the end.  I started wondering if Xbox could pull this off.  My research pulled up Marcus Fenix, Master Chief, Blinx, Alan Wake, Joanna Dark, the Viva Piñata characters, the dude from Condemned (which admittedly might be a little dark for a Smash Brothers rip off), and no, they can’t pull off this kind of game.  Of course, they might be able to pull it off if they add in characters that are not exclusive to Sony (such as Big Daddy and Dante) or if they actually had the audacity to make Cole into 2 different characters, justified by being a good and an evil version of the same character.  Hell, I guess Microsoft could pull of this kind of game.  There are like 10 different Carmines in Gears of War, and they could always have Master Chief and crestfallen Master Chief.  And, strangely, the characters I enjoyed playing as most were the ones I didn’t know or didn’t give a shit about.  I liked Sir Daniel from the game I can’t even name because I gave all of my shits away to the orphans in Africa.  I liked the strange cat thing, Toro, from whatever the fuck crazy Japanese thing it spilled out of, partially because he felt like this game’s version of Kirby.  I even liked playing as Nariko.  Certainly more than I liked playing as her in the game she came from.  I kind of defaulted to Kratos most times, because I wanted a character that played well that wouldn’t embarrass me.  I liked the Big Daddy too, but watching a Big Daddy get suplexed by Sackboy is not something I endorse.    I do endorse beating the crap out of PaRappa, especially when he keeps shouting about how you’ve gotta believe.  Believe this, PaRappa: I hate you.

The gameplay in this game was as good as it was a few years back on the Nintendo, but they again failed to live up to Smash Brothers.  The biggest problem was that beating up enemies served no good purpose.  In Smash Brothers, you beat people up because weakening them makes them easier to knock out of the level.  There is no ring out in PSASBR.  In other fighting games, you beat up your enemies to take their life bar down to zero.  There are no live bars in this game.  You beat people up to build up super moves, and super moves are pretty much instant kills.  So, basically, your ability to win is only as good as your character’s super move.  Kind of takes a little bit of the fun and strategy out of it.  There were other issues, like how annoying it was to double tap on the screen to pick up an item instead of just pressing a button to do it, but I think I hate most games that force touch screen use on you.  The big problem I thought of in regards to playing this game is I don’t see any reason to do it.  With Smash Brothers, you did it on the big screen on a console that could support four players simultaneously.  On my Vita, I play alone unless I want to go online (which I never really do).  Of course, this game is also available for the PS3, so I might have liked it more that way.

Graphically this game was fantastic.  Sony will always have that over Nintendo because the decision makers in Nintendo really have gamers figured out.  But this graphical improvement comes at a cost.  The load times between levels are awful, and really take you out of the pacing of the game.  You play a level, taking three minutes tops to beat it, and then you can put the Vita down and go get a sandwich waiting for the next match to start.  The levels are also nicely designed.  They start off as one person’s level and, over time, get invaded by a character from another game.  Like playing in Ratchet and Clank’s Metropolis and having the Hydra from God of War pop out of the ground, or having a Metal Gear slice its way into the Patapon level.  The game was musically delightful, but there was a problem with my game and the sound at first, but I don’t really fault the game for it because it was patched while I was still playing it.  And after that, I got to listen to the music from Uncharted from time to time, and I am always ready for that.

Of all the categories that this game comes second to Nintendo in, there is one category that Nintendo could never touch Sony in: trophies.  Sure, one could argue that Nintendo did not do a Trophy or Achievement system, but that feels irrelevant.  The trophies in this game were super easy, and not even very time consuming.  It’s not much more complicated than beating the game with all the characters and using their Level 3 Super Move in their own level.  Then just grab Toro, go online, and get an easy triple and double kill with his Level 3 move that seems to kill everyone on screen no matter what.  Easy Platinum.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a decent enough game that was ripped off wholesale from Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers, and without very much by way of improvement.  Their characters aren’t nearly as iconic and the gameplay feels pointless and unsatisfying in comparison.  But, this game is not without its charms.  If you don’t own a Nintendo system, if you’re looking for an easy Platinum trophy, or if graphics are more important than gameplay, I could see there being reasons to play this.  Ultimately, I wouldn’t have paid money for this thing, and I wouldn’t be able to recommend it to you.  PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale gets “Super Brawl Brothers” out of “Melee.”

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Lollipop Chainsaw (2012)


Killing Zombies Gives Me Total Wood.

Lollipop Chainsaw (2012)My inspiration for playing today’s game can sadly be defined with one word: boobies.  This movie appeared to have them in bulk.  Technically, there was probably more than interested me in this game.  I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of James Gunn – who collaborated on this game – but I’ve definitely had interest in things he’s done before.  I’ve also had interest in the games of his collaborator, Suda51, but I’ve also never played anything he’s taken part in.  I also consider myself a fan of the main voice actor in this game, Tara Strong, and I’ve actually enjoyed many things she’s taken part in.  But that’s far too much explanation and it’s much easier to say I played Lollipop Chainsaw strictly for the boobies.  In fact, all of that was too long.  Remind me to erase it later.  Lollipop Chainsaw was written by James Gunn, produced by Goichi Suda (Suda51), developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, published by Kadokawa Games and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and includes the voice acting of Tara Strong, Michael Rosenbaum, Kimberly Brooks, Linda Cardellini, Gregg Henry, Vanessa Marshall, Bruce Locke, Sean Gunn, Little Jimmy Urine, Michael Rooker, Shawnee Smith, Dave Fennoy, Rick D. Wasserman, Fred Tatasciore, Nolan North, and Kari Wahlgren.

Juliet Starling (Tara Strong) is a cheerleader that just turned legal.  But she is no ordinary cheerleader.  Well, technically she is exactly the definition of what you’d expect out of a cheerleader.  But also she carries a chainsaw and fights zombies.  She is off to meet her boyfriend at San Romero (HAAAAA!  I see what you did there, zombie game!) High School, but she arrives too late.  Her boyfriend Nick (Michael Rosenbaum) is bitten by a zombie.  She performs a ritual to allow his severed head to remain alive and decides to keep him around in this form.  It turns out that the whiny Goth kid Swan (Sean Gunn) has summoned the zombies because people in high school were mean to him.  He summons musical themed zombies – punk rocker Zed (Little Jimmy Urine), Viking drummer Vikke (Michael Rooker), hippie guitarist Mariska (Shawnee Smith), autotuned R&B-ish guy Josey (Dave Fennoy), and some kind of rock dude Lewis (Rick D. Wasserman) – to seek his revenge.  Along with Nick, Juliet teams with her sensei Morikawa (Bruce Locke), her Mom (Vanessa Marshall), Dad (Gregg Henry), gun-toting older sister Cordelia (Linda Cardellini), and clumsy younger sister with far too much energy Rosalind (Kimberly Brooks) to send them back to Hell, or wherever.

I knew what I was getting into with this game.  I had assumed that it would be a pretty run of the mill hack and slash game with occasional funny parts and lots of Japanese quirkiness.  So, now that I’ve proven that I can read the future, I will be accepting premium rates to read people fortune cookies and tell them I’m magic.  I really can’t say that there’s too much to say about the story of the game.  The zombies show up and Juliet has to kill the shit out of them.  The dialogue is pretty hit and miss in the game too.  Quite often, I found the dialogue between Juliet and Nick to be pretty cute, especially the part where Juliet thinks Nick speaks Japanese because he knows what the word “sensei” means.  But other parts of the dialogue just seemed like they were trying too hard to be funny, or perhaps even edgy.  Not really a problem, I suppose, but noticeable more in the times when they fall short.

Not a lot to say about the look of the game either.  It wasn’t particularly good and it wasn’t particularly bad.  It was fairly colorful and goofy in how dismembering zombies was muted by rainbows and stars because of how most guys think the world looks through the eyes of most girls.  The only real issue I took with the look of the game was the sexuality.  Don’t get me wrong; I love boobies.  The problem I had with it is that it felt like it was telling me way more than I ever would want to know about what James Gunn and/or Suda51 masturbate to.  That’s information I’d do better without.

The game plays well enough.  It’s vaguely Bayonetta-esque.  And by that, I mean it’s a hack and slash game.  Spam the hell out of that X button, then throw a Y button at the end for good measure.  They add a gun thing that doesn’t really work unless you take off auto-aim and a few other things to break up the monotony, with limited success.  They also often try to break things up with quirky minigames, like a baseball one where you have to protect zombie Nick as he rounds the bases and a basketball one where you try to make baskets with decapitated zombie heads, but these never really became more than irritants for me.

The achievements aren’t necessarily what I’d call easy, but they’re not the hardest ones either.  The only thing that makes them a bother is that it means you’ll probably have to replay levels a few times.  I got to about 800 before I finally got sick of the game and decided it wasn’t worth the bother anymore.  But I imagine I could’ve gotten 1000 without too much extra work.  It’s just that the game isn’t interesting enough for me to really work at it.

Lollipop Chainsaw was a goofy, fairly standard hack and slash game.  The story was simple, but funny enough when they weren’t trying too hard, and the look was pretty cute for a game with so much dismemberment.  But I’ve never really been a big fan of hack and slash games because I can only press X so many times before I realize that I’m getting bored.  This game is satisfying enough for a rental, but can’t justify a decent price tag.  Lollipop Chainsaw gets “What the dick?” out of “These zombies suck dick at driving.”

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Assassin’s Creed III (2012)


The Future of Our Land Depends on Those Who Are Truly Free.

Assassin's Creed 3 (2012)I was incredibly excited to get to play this game and, truth be told, I beat the game about two months ago but was so back-logged with other reviews that it’s taken me this long to get here.  Some of you may have already seen a quickie review of this game in my end of the year recap because it took me so long to review it.  But I’ve been a big fan of the series since its inception, so the game was certainly deserving of a full review.  Plus, there’s a chance that this game is the final game in the saga, so I feel that I need to send it off properly.  This game is Assassin’s Creed 3, developed by Ubisoft Montreal, published by Ubisoft, and including the voices of Noah Watts, Nolan North, Adrian Hough, Kaniehtiio Horn, Roger Aaron Brown, John de Lancie, Neil Napier, Allen Leech, Robert Lawrenson, Robin Atkin Downes, Danny Wallace, Eliza Jane Schneider, Margaret Easley, and Nadia Verrucci.

Desmond (Nolan North) and crew – William (John de Lancie), Rebecca (Eliza Jane Schneider), and Shaun (Danny Wallace) – are still trying to access a temple with the Apple of Eden, and use it to stop the end of the world.  …I don’t get it either.  To do so, Desmond gets into a machine that sends him back into his ancestor’s memories.  First, he becomes Haytham Kenway (Adrian Hough), who then fathers Ratonhnhaké:ton (Noah Watts) – who thankfully gets called Connor – with Connor’s mother, Kaniehti:io (Kaniehtiio Horn) – who I will call Unpronounceahontas.  Connor must stop the Templars in their plots in the American Colonies while simultaneously helping the Americas gain their independence.

I really liked this game (as you may have guessed from the quickie review in the Games of 2012 review), but it was not without its share of problems, most of which will not be found in this paragraph.  The story of the game was pretty good.  I’ve always kind of taken issue with the Desmond side of the Assassin’s Creed games.  They tend to be a little on the strange side.  The guy gets into a machine to allow him to access memories stored in his DNA while talking to ancient but super-advanced aliens and save the world with an apple.  But that’s a fairly minor section of the game, and that’s how I like it.  I don’t give a shit about Desmond.  But Altaïr, Ezio, and now Connor?  Yeah, that’s the stuff.  And Connor’s part of the story holds up as well as Altaïr’s and Ezio’s, but it does take its sweet time to get started.  I wanted to get into the Connor part of the story quicker because I didn’t see much point in getting attached to Haytham when I realized that he wasn’t my guy.  There wasn’t anything wrong with it, but I was in this to be Connor.  I even really liked the scenes of Haytham and Unpronounceahontas and their burgeoning relationship, but this guy isn’t going to participate in the Boston Tea Party, witness the Boston Massacre, chauffer Paul Revere on his Midnight Ride, and watch the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Connor was!  And it was pretty cool to take part in all of those things, so I enjoyed it thoroughly when it got going.  There were a couple of minor qualms to be had with the rest of the story.  First off, the names of things.  The Mohawks seem like they had absolutely no interest in making their names easy on me while writing these reviews, and I think that’s very inconsiderate of them.  There was our main character, Ratonhnhaké:ton, his mother, Kaniehti:io, and the place they were from, Kanien’keh(‘a):ka.  Come on!  That can’t be real!  What possible use for colons, semicolons, and parenthesis would the Mohawk have?!  I guess, much like their philosophies in hunting, they felt like they must use all parts of the keyboard as they use all parts of the buffalo.  The endings were a little weak as well.  The defeat of Connor’s mortal enemy was a little anticlimactic, and I wasn’t that pleased with what happened with Desmond either.  I was happy they didn’t go with the typical ending with making the audience make a choice.  I just want to see YOUR story, not make my own.  Or, more accurately, I don’t want to have to look up the other ending on YouTube.

The controls of the game were what gave me the most trouble.  Not all of the time as it controls very similar to every other Assassin’s Creed, but I had never had so many problems with glitches in the other games.  There were times when the controls wouldn’t respond, I would run into invisible walls, icons wouldn’t show up when they were supposed to.  The worst one was when I was trying to climb a wall and I was inexplicably fired up into the air, only to come crashing down to the Earth and die.  It didn’t happen all the time, but even just a few times in such a big name title is extremely frustrating.  Otherwise, the game is exactly as you’d expect an Assassin’s Creed game to be.  And by that, I mean it’s awesome.  It’s like Dishonored if it didn’t punish you for killing bad people.  And the parkour is great, and improved for this game a little.  It’s mostly what we’ve done in the other games, but this game takes us out into the wilderness a lot more than the other games does.  And that means free-running through the trees.  It works very well most of the time, though it’s occasionally difficult to see your path clearly when trying to figure out which way to jump.  The side missions in the game were fun, but some were extremely tedious and others I just did not play the way they wanted me to.  Like the hunting stuff.  Connor was an effective, but very impatient hunter with me at the helm.  It would’ve been a fairly common sight to see Connor running through the frontier, trying to bum rush a raccoon in the brush.  And the board games were a constant annoyance for me.  I realize that the only reason I was even bothering with them was because I wanted achievements, but I found them really annoying.  One problem with playing a board game against a computer is that the computer knows how to play and what is going to happen way better than we do.  Another problem is that I don’t really want to play these things.  I don’t need the money, so I’m just forced to play the stupid things for the achievements.  And Six Man Morris is a horrible piece of shit of a game.  I want it to die.  I resent this game for making me play it.  I don’t know anyone named Morris, but I will befriend one just so I can hate him.  I had a couple minor issues with the logic of the game as well.  Like why do guards attack me because 3 orphans are pestering me?  I would understand if they were already looking for me, or if I just killed them like I always wanted to, but just because they see a guy being bothered by kids?  They should attack the kids!  Or let me!  As much as I loved the regular gameplay of Assassin’s Creed, this game kind of overshadowed it for me with the new nautical battles.  I really dug these.  It made me wish Ubisoft would take over a really cool Pirates of the Caribbean game.

The look of the game is fantastic, with next to no complaints.  The landscapes are beautiful, and the seafaring levels are brilliant.  The only thing I took issue with was minor, but annoying.  The game gives you the ability to change the color of Connor’s outfit, but does not have the ability to change his costume color in the cinematics.  I’ll be wearing some badass black and red getup just to suddenly, and jarringly, be wearing classic white because I’m chatting with Sam Adams now.  Come on, Ubisoft.  We all know this technology exists.

I never was all that interested in the multiplayer of the Assassin’s Creed games.  That lack of interest, as well as the structure of the multiplayer, has not changed much.  It’s an interesting idea, and it’s nice that it’s different from the typical first person shooter multiplayer, but it also doesn’t really keep my attention very long.  The first problem is that they take so long to explain it in the overlong tutorials for it.  They actually show you how to free run!  Does anyone buy Assassin’s Creed for the multiplayer?  In which case, how would they not already know how to free run, and probably have played the entire story mode before even bothering to give multiplayer a shot.  Then, when you get into the multiplayer, it’s not usually the game of hiding and surprising that the tutorials make it out to be.  It’s mostly just people running around in circles trying to stab each other.

The achievements in this game weren’t insurmountable, but there were still some that I was not going to bother with.  Namely, the multiplayer ones.  But I did get the rest of them.  The only ones that I found very annoying were the ones involving the board games and the damned Encyclopedia of the Common Man stuff.  That was extremely tedious.  You basically have to take a look at everyone in your homestead doing three different versions of their jobs.  They may choose not to do their jobs for about 4 or 5 days because they’d rather be fishing, and you may not be able to kill them in punishment for their inefficiency, but you will have to stand around waiting for them to do it anyway.

Assassin’s Creed 3 was a great game that was hindered by a few minor problems that just should not have been there from a company that makes such polished games usually.  But they were only temporary hindrances in a beautiful game with highly enjoyable gameplay and completely forgettable multiplayer.  I recommend buying this game.  I bought it for $35, which it is totally worth.  I’d still probably get it for $60 though.  Assassin’s Creed 3 gets “My enemy is a notion, not a nation” out of “Better the world burns, than SHE is unleashed upon it!”

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