Tag Archives: DS

Opinion Piece: Yellow Journalism

28 Jun

So this is my first opinion piece and quite a departure from the typical LtapGamer review. I want to talk about hype and how we can so quickly get lost in it. Let us take a step back in time to 1898 to the spark of the Spanish-American war. While not the first use of hyperbole or exaggerated details in my opinion it was the first time that people were allowed to post something without thought or without credence; I am of course talking about Yellow Journalism or Yellow Press. This form of media has evolved over time and with the invention of social media one man or woman’s word becomes law or fact. But what does Yellow Journalism have to do with Game Reviews or Games Journalism? The fact is that the first review of a game with mass hype typically sets the trend.

We see this all the time a game comes out with mass hype from some well-known or indie developer and journalist want to sell a product. While there is nothing wrong with the idea of being a promoter for the less informed or the financially dependent; video game scores are worth their weight in gold.

Game of the Year

Game of the Year

I want to talk about a Zombie game that has recently come out and received tons of praise, some rightfully so but some that seem to be a bit of a stretch.

Last year Telltale games released a point and click adventure game called The Walking Dead. This game was episodic (short bits of the game were released every couple of months) and had cel-shaded graphics. From that sentence alone you would not assume much of the game but many journalists clung to the game claiming the story and idea of choosing who gets to live and die caused a great amount of tension. They shouted that this is a different experience and no two players would feel the same way along this five episode adventure. This game was heralded as the “Game of the Year”, “an innovation in gaming”, so on and so forth. Yet no one talked about its archaic nature or shoddy movement and buggy camera controls; and if they did it was mildly glazed over. Yet fans ran to the game purchasing the game digitally on almost every platform including iOS and Playstation Vita, but what made it so special? It was different? How? Compared to what? As I started thinking about the game more and talking to more and more people our stories about the game weren’t all that different, in fact many of us had the exact same ending or series of events. Games like the Walking Dead have been around for decades and we all grew away from them over the years. So why now, why did so many people claim it was the game of the year?

The answer is simple; we wanted to be a part of the conversation. Just like back in the Spanish-American War we wanted something to talk about with friends and family members that didn’t involve the everyday norm. In the gaming world the everyday norm now is Call of Duty or Halo, so when something so “different” came around we got lost in it, we were subsumed by it. We immediately agreed with the first person who told us this was the pinnacle of gaming. Is the Walking Dead a bad game? Absolutely not I enjoyed my experience with it but I would never consider it Game of the Year Nominee. So I hope that when this year roles around and you are with your friends or loved ones picking your next game or wondering what will appear at the VGAs you don’t get lost in the hype and you do your research. Vote with your wallets, use your head, and game on!

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Vanquish

19 Jun

“There is but one way to prevent the destruction of NYC, your complete surrender”. After witnessing San Francisco go down in flames you might consider putting your hands up and giving up; or you might pick up a billion dollar Iron-manish  suit and wage war to save the world. Its time to dive into this months backlog with Vanquish!

Vanquish is developed by Platinum games and is an insane third-person shooter. Vanquish began development in 2007 and was released in October 2010. Published by Sega and Directed by legendary game maker Shinji Mikami, Vanquish sets itself apart from an Uncharted or Gears of war type third person shooter by combining fast fluid movement and precision aiming mechanics.

Black Stallion

Black Stallion

This game can be found for around 20 bucks at your local game store and is definitely worth a look. I played this on my Playstation 3.

Visuals: Vanquish takes place in outer-space in the near future on a space station orbiting the earth. Vanquish has lots of bright lights and colors splashes your screen as you walk, run, and slide your way through the many corridors and open terraces. The games character models look incredibly similar to Bayonetta, so much so that I found myself looking for Easter eggs or little hints to the developers other game. I think I have cracked the code for how the Japanese portray Americans in games; If you are loud and brash, you are a 7 foot tall 300 pound soldier with scars and a trunk full regrets. If you are the main hero you are in peak physical form with some form of oral addiction; smoking or sucking on something. If you play the part of the side kick you are slender and consistently terrified of the most mundane task “watch out for that tree”! Its not a perfect formula but it works.  I loved the character variation and level differences; no two places looked too similar and while you did have your repetitive grunts I never grew weary of them.

Story: You play as Sam Gideon who is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency researcher with an Augmented Reaction Suit that is sent into space to stop the villains known as the Order of the Russian Star. The President believes that Sam is the only one capable of taking on this classified mission to help save an “important” scientist who is on the rouge space station. Along the way Sam meets some new allies and kills some baddies. While I do consider the story just fluff to make you want to continue playing the game I did enjoy the banter between Gideon and other characters both good and bad on the screen.

Stop Drop and Roll

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Gameplay: I’ve never taken drugs besides the occasional allergy medicine but I would have to consider Vanquish a cocktail of Ecstasy and Speed all at once. Fast twitch game-play and a slow down mechanic made playing this game an addictive experience. I played on an easier setting simply to enjoy the gun play. Gideon is able to quickly weave around enemies and fire an assortment of weapons that made every shot feel exciting and different. I had so much fun trying to dodge bullets and shoot people in the slow down time frame that I found myself restarting levels to try and perfect that one sequence. On the other side of the coin I will say the melee and upgrading mechanics felt completely archaic. You could upgrade your guns to be stronger but visually there was no change that made it feel like I made a good choice in upgrading a weapon. The Melee was also incredibly strange and incomplete. You can only punch something or someone once or twice before your suit over heats and Gideon becomes useless for 10 or 15 seconds. I don’t understand why this was needed in the game but I think it would have been a nice benefit to be able to upgrade the suits melee abilities. I will end on a positive note and say that the ground sliding with jets on your legs mechanic was a ton of fun! This is another area where upgrading would have been nice, but being able to slide from one part of the level to the next while shooting bad guys became incredibly addictive.

Can we still be friends?

Can we still be friends?

Test of Time: If you have the money I would pick this up on a long weekend and beat it in one or two sittings. It’s a short game especially on the easier difficulties but talk about a fun ride. The best way to describe Vanquish is like describing a new roller coaster at an amusement park; You wait in line for hours to get on a two minute ride. People may ask is it worth it and the only answer is “you need to try it for yourself”

BROS system

Cy: Rent:  I am going to have to resonate with my Bayonetta review but unless you love games and want to own them all and replay them time and time again you could probably gamefly this game for a couple bucks and return it in one weekend. Its cheap now so it may be worth adding to your collection, my only advice is don’t play something slow paced like Gears of War after the adrenaline rush that is Vanquish, you will regret the hangover.

DarkSiders

10 May

Being a Playstation Plus member has its benefits. For those unaware of PS+ its Sony’s paid subscription service for its online service. One of the perks of being a Plus member is access to the instant game collection; Sony’s Dynamic (ever-changing) library of games which members can download for free. I’ve been a member for about a year now and I can easily say that $50 dollars a year is an absolute steal for the amount of deals and hours of gaming I get for joining this premium service. So why am I blabbing on and on about this service? My review today leads us to Darksiders a game that I would probably never have played had it not been for PS+

Darksiders was developed by now defunct Vigil Games in production with the now defunct THQ…do you see where I am going with this? Released in North America on January 5th, 2010 Darksiders was released on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. I read the so-so reviews and given my large backlog of games I could never bring myself to paying for a game that wasn’t in most journalists top ten. While the game certainly had its low moments I had a ton of fun playing this game. Lets take a trip through hell while I tell the tale of the four horsemen!

Black Stallion

Black Stallion

This game was played on a PS3 and can be found for less than 20 USD at most retailers.

This means WAR

This means WAR

Visuals: Darksiders looks like your standard open world 3-d action adventure game. While nothing stands out the levels vary enough that you never get bored with the game. Darksiders has a dark ascetic and plays well with the whole bright heaven and dark hell concepts. One of my favorite scenes in the game is when War the protagonist/anti-hero is riding through the desert fighting several worm enemies; this is one point in the game where you truly feel immersed in the experience and forget that you are playing a video game. The enemies don’t have a lot of variety  but the bosses look and feel different and add another level of visual fidelity with their bright spots and enormous size and detail.

Story: You play as War one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse trying to keep the balance between Heaven and Hell. You start out with your full arsenal at your disposal; Huge sword, Chain, Spells, and Demonic shape shifting form. Just like Metroid after the first couple minutes of the game War losses everything; while I wont get into details of who and why, lets just say War has to clear his name one bloody battle at a time. You are joined by the Watcher early in the game who is voiced by Mark Hamill  who does an amazing job as the dark and cunning watch dog for War. The actual story is ho-hum but the mythology and characters were interesting and a big draw for me.

Gameplay: Darksiders can easily be considered the Jack of All Trades and the Master of none. On minute you feel like you are playing the Legend of Zelda and the next you are Kratos the God of War slashing and dicing enemies left and right. The game does a great job incorporating game concepts like Mini-bosses, Backtracking, Hack-n-Slash and so on from other games, but they never work to the level of perfection that they should. I struggled quite a bit from the jump mechanics in this game; the timing seemed off when trying to jump from one ledge to another, or chaining combos. Jumping aside I never got stuck in my dozen or so hours in the game. The camera was never a big issue, and the animations were fluid; you fell because you fell, no other reason.

Looks like Link grew up!

Looks like Link grew up!

Test of Time: Darksiders plays great three years later. Due to the source material being relevant today with so many remakes and sequels of other games the dungeons and battles don’t feel dated just familiar. My suggestion for getting the most out of Darksiders is to pick it up after you have played a game like Final Fantasy or Rock Band. It’s a good game but if you just finished playing the latest God of War or Legend of Zelda it won’t stack up.

I am excited to play the sequel and hope that the new developer Nordic Games can give us the threequel fans deserve.

BROS: If you can get it under 20 bucks no reason not to buy this game, I don’t know where the funds would go at this point but you will get a dozen plus hours of enjoyment from this game and it will get you more excited about the sequel and any other adventures the horsemen may have down the line!

Red Steel 2

31 Jan

With many games for the WiiU being ports I just don’t feel right posting a WiiU article just yet. That said I am a huge Nintendo fan and I love my 3ds and Wii. I guess its time to brush up my sword skills and dust off the revolver…I’m headed into the Wild West. Red Steel 2 the spiritual successor to the so-so Wii launch game Red Steel; developed by Ubisoft Paris and Published by Ubisoft exclusively for the Wii; Red Steel 2 does everything a sequel to a crummy game should do… make you forget the first one ever existed. Red Steel 2 is an exclusive for the Wii and it was released stateside on March 23rd 2010. I hadn’t touched my wii in a while (pun intended) but I was ready to fire up the machine and plug in my Wii Motion Plus accessory for a donnybrook in the wild west.

Red Steel 2

Red Steel 2

This game was played on a Wii and can be found new for 20 USD pretty much anywhere wii games are still being sold.

Dust it off

Dust it off

Visuals: Cel-Shading is quite a departure for this series as the previous title was in “realistic” 3-d. The style harking back to previous Ubisoft Paris titles such as XIII really fits well in this East meets West hack n slash shooter for the Wii. The characters were very colorful and the weapons all had a specific flair that truly popped thanks to the graphics. While the boss fights were incredible and the open area scenes looked like water paintings I do have to knock against the towns themselves. Different shades of brown fill a majority of the game and the fodder for your blade and revolvers all look the same. I think with the cel-shading they could have at least swapped the color palates on a few enemies.

Story: You play as the Hero and unnamed member of the Kusagari clan. You are the last of your kind after the opening events of the game and you become referred to as the Swordsman. You could probably guess the name has to do with the weapon he carries but more on that later. This games crux is that it is a revenge story and your entire mission is focused on avenging your clan; the story doesn’t really add to the ambiance and I found myself at a loss as to why this character cared so much for his clan after they…(no spoilers here) The story could have used more juxtaposition or cliches pick your poison.

Gameplay: This game is all motion control there is no gamepad option. Red Steel 2 does use the Motion Plus accessory so there is a greater level of control for the gun and sword action. As with any new technology however there is a bit of jarring from the camera if you twist your hand the wrong way or you get lazy and turn the other way on the sofa. When the combat and controls work the game is amazing you can block all sorts of attacks and shoot enemies square in the head from across the map. When the controls are off however; be ready for the Swordsman to spin around until you want to vomit, or you cannot pull off a combo or attack and end up retrying a level several times. Advice here keep calm and carry on!

The Hero in us

The Hero in us

Test of Time: Before testing the game out for this post I played the game in 2011. A year and some months later I still had fun swiping the Wii remote as if it were a 1000 year old Katana. With a lack of truly unique games coming to the WiiU anytime soon I would have to say this is a great 20 dollar purchase. The levels may get repetitive but the visuals will and swordplay will make this a game you’ll want to add to your collection.

 

BROS System:

Cy: What else are you playing at this point on the Wiiu or the Wii for that matter? Its a shortish game and for 20 bucks it’s a great show off game for your friends and family!

Bayonetta

17 Jan

I’m going in for the kill, I’m doing it for the thrill. Enter Bayonetta a game full of jaw dropping moments and extreme guilty pleasures. Developed by Platinum Games and published by SEGA, Bayonetta is truly a one of a kind experience. Hideki Kamiya the games Director brings his distinct flair and action from his critically acclaimed Devil May Cry game for the PS2 and adds a bit more spice to this current gen action game. Bayonetta Launched in the US on January 5th 2010 for both Xbox and PS3. As I have said many times in the past Story is an integral part of my enjoyment of any game. While I don’t have a preference playing as a male or female protagonist I have struggled to relate to characters such as Nariko, or Lara Croft. I enjoyed playing as Bayonetta and the mystery that loomed over her was something I was excited to learn more about every time I popped in the disc.

What a Witch

What a Witch

This game was played on a PS3 at first but due to long load times I was forced to switch to the Xbox version. This article/review will apply to both but I would suggest playing the Xbox Version. The game is 20 USD at Gamestop and Amazon at the time of this article.

Xbox > PS3 for this one

Xbox > PS3 for this one

Visuals: Bayonetta is distinct; while it will not knock your socks off it is a game that is visually pleasing. Bayonetta is an attractive female that likes to bare her all from time to time and give the demons and angels a show while kicking them back to their respective homes. The enemies vary enough that you never get bored with them and you know just by the look of the enemies that each fight will be distinct. The locations are a big draw in the game; on moment you are fighting Angels in the streets and the next you are jumping from missile to missile in the atmosphere fighting another Witch. The game is colorful and the bosses memorable, I didn’t want to take my eyes off the screen while I was playing.

Story: You play as Bayonetta a Witch who has amnesia, ironically she still remembers how to kick ass and take names. As the game progresses you learn about the Umbra Witches and why spirits from all realms are after Bayonetta. What really drew me in was the little girl Bayonetta starts to protect early in the game. Her hard exterior shell is protecting what appears to be a soft and caring inside. Duality plays a huge role in Bayonetta, Good vs Evil, Heaven vs Hell, even the levels have a strange Paradise vs Inferno feel to them. While that may appear deep, I must emphasize this game is very Japanese. Over the top characters and dialogue and  some cheesy moments that just don’t work as well as the writers/translators would have hoped. If you watch any Anime such as DragonBall, One piece, or InuYasha you are accustomed to the banter and awkward moments. The mystery will sink its hooks into you early and while it may seem convoluted at times, the pay off at the end is worth it.

Gameplay: Fast and Furious; similar to Devil May Cry or in a loose sense God of War you walk into an area you get locked in and you fit to the death. Bayonetta has guns on her feet and a hairy dragon figure that aids her along with an assortment of other mystical weapons! Combos are key  if you want to succeed. Being able to chain together combos can offer you the ability to slow down time or have flashy finishers (well worth the price of admission) Similar to other Japanese games you are graded for every battle with a final score at the end. The better the score the bigger the reward the faster you can buy weapons and move upgrades. The game does move quite fast and is fairly responsive; I do have to knock against the camera though as it may lock on to you from time to time and you will be battling behind a wall with no way to see what is happening.  There were times when I would throw my controller in a fit of rage because I could not remember button combos or I felt there was a bit of lag (your Mileage may vary)

Fast and Furious

Fast and Furious

Test of Time: I played the game for the first time on PS3 in 2012 and then on the Xbox later on. Playing a few levels again these past few days have reminded what fun it is to play such an over the top game. The controls are fine for this game and the visuals still are fun and psychedelic. If you own the WiiU and either an Xbox or PS3 I would suggest playing it as the sequel is a WiiU exclusive.

BROS system

Cy: Rent; unless you are an avid collector of games or you see yourself playing the game 3 or 4 times its hard to suggest buying the game as it clocked just under 8 hours for me. Still 20 dollars isn’t too much to spend for a good game with an upcoming sequel!

Prince of Persia

10 Jan

I swear Nolan North does not have anything to do with this blog! This will be our third Nolan North game featured on Ltapgamer and probably one of my favorites. Prince of Persia which was first introduced in 1989 has seen several iterations over the years; from a ground breaking 2D side-scroller to a redefining 3D action game Prince of Persia has seen its share of changes in its 23 years on the market. Today we are going to cover the Xbox 360, PS3 game from 2008. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal and released in the US on December 2, 2008 Prince of Persia takes the action adventure hero into a cel-shaded romp into the desert.

Not sponsored by Nolan North

Not sponsored by Nolan North

This game was played on the Xbox 360 and can be found at GameStop for 5 dollars or less!

Weapon of Choice

Weapon of Choice

Visuals: Prince of Persia (POP) takes the game series from its 3D world and adds Cel-Shading to give the game a water color vibe. This game oozes with color and adds a certain art vibe that will capture you from the first sandstorm til the final boss fight. There is quite a variety in color here and the world becomes more beautiful when you clear the baddies from the area. Cel-shading doesn’t always work for games as it takes some “realism” away from animations or visual effects; I feel as if the world of POP was meant for this art style as the characters though new seem like friends you grew up with as a child. Whenever I booted the game up I felt nostalgic as if I was opening up my favorite children’s book on a rainy day.

Story: You play as the Prince of Persia who seems to have drifted in the wrong direction in the midst of a sandstorm. You literally fall into the lap of a damsel in distress and your adventure begins. Elika is the female non playable character that follows you along in this mysterious land. We won’t spoil why she needs your help but you piece things together as you progress through the game. As usual with any Nolan North voiced game (insert wink and smiley face) you immediately have a strange romantic tension with the female character which starts as annoyance builds into friendship and inevitably ends with love.  Elika is a fun character that never got on my nerves and serves as a catalyst to the story. I found myself interested in chatting with her to get some background on her and the mysterious land we were trying to save.

Gameplay: POP has some great controls both on PS3 and Xbox. The prince will be scaling walls, hanging from ceilings, and fighting several baddies. The controls are intuitive and you know that it’s your fault when you missed a jump or didn’t parry properly. POP adds a new “don’t die” mechanic with the help of Elika that I found to be quite fun and never took me out of the game; the mechanic allows Elika to save you if you fall from a high point or if you get slain in battle. Some people found this to be obtrusive and thought it made the game too easy (your mileage may vary) Camera is good for the most part though with any game that you are climbing and jumping it may take an extra millisecond to catch up from time to time.

Prince and Elika

Prince and Elika

Test of Time: POP is fun, of the “newer” Action-Adventure games I think Ubisoft did a great job bringing the prince to next-gen consoles and I hope a sequel is in the works. If I did have one gripe with the game it was the ending of the story but again (No spoilers here.) I think if you are out shopping and you want to buy something for yourself or maybe a gift for a friend or family member pull out that FIVE DOLLAR bill and purchase the game; you really cannot go wrong with this game.

I think were going to get rid of the BROS SYSTEM for now

Cy: Pick it up its 5 bucks

Uncharted Golden Abyss

3 Jan

Fortune Favors the bold, throw in a pinch of luck as well! When I found out Uncharted would be on Playstation Vita I was very excited about taking a another romp through Drakes crazy fortune hunting world. Uncharted Golden Abyss is the 4th game in the Uncharted series by Naughty Dog but the first on a portable system. The kicker here is not only is this the first portable uncharted, its the first Uncharted headed by a different studio. Developed by Bend Studio known for Playstation and PS2 classics like Syphon Filter, Uncharted Golden Abyss Launched onto handhelds as a Launch Title in the US on February 15th 2012. Uncharted Golden Abyss makes the jump from Home console to Portable handheld with a few bumps and bruises, but it’s definitely a ride worth taking.

It's going to be a climb

It’s going to be a climb

This game was played on a PSVita. If you are a PLUS member this game is free for a limited time and can be found between 30 and 40 dollars retail!

Weapon of Choice

Weapon of Choice

Visuals: Uncharted Golden Abyss (UGA) is a vibrant game with great  contrast between day and night shots. Some moments you are in a deep cavern that is only lit by a few fires, while other times you are standing on top of a mountain with the sun glaring in your eyes. The game might not compare to Uncharted 3 Drakes Deception, but for the system its on I feel it really pushes the hardware to its limit. If I was to knock something I would say that the animations when climbing ropes is a little funky and the characters move like robots. Nate’s eyes are a little strange as well but you may enjoy the change in color.

Story: UGA is a prequel to the original three games on the PS3. We see a younger? Nathan Drake running around the jungle with a new character Dante who is Drakes friend and partner in this new game. A new female interest Chase also comes into the story and as usual plenty of quips will build as does the sexual tension. The three are looking for a secret treasure buried within the Panama jungle; a daunting task for sure, but throw in a General who wants the treasure for himself and were now roaming in Uncharted territories.

Gameplay: UGA gets to be one of the first 3rd person shooters to get full use of the right analog stick on the Playstation Vita. While I did love moving the camera and aiming it felt a little slow from time to time. Headshots that I would have easily have made in the 2nd and 3rd uncharted games were much harder in this game due to sensitivity issues (Your milage may vary). This being a launch game for a new system comes with all the perks of showing off the robust plethora of “stuff” the vita can do. You row with the back touch pad on a canoe, you make charcoal rubbings by rubbing the front screen, sometimes you even have to hold the camera up to the light to show cool puzzles. While some of these gimmicks are fun it did get daunting after the tenth charcoal rubbing or photo shot. I would definitely give this game a break on the gaming mechanics because Bend Studio has no where to go but up from here. Its a solid base and I am certain when they make another game these little things will be sorted out.

Test of Time: Uncharted has a great story and beautiful visuals; the irony with launch games are that they look great for the first year or two and then dwindle into the shadows. Uncharted 2 and 3 had time to grow and develop but Naughty Dogs original outing was far from perfect. I think Uncharted will be a game that is talked about quite a bit especially if a second one comes out but I could never see this game as the “best of the best” I am an Uncharted fan and I loved the characters and story so I am torn saying these things but unless you have Playstation Plus or get the game for cheap I would suggest renting this adventure. You will love every minute of your adventure, its just that the end result leaves you feeling a bit hungry for more!

No BROS SYSTEM this week:

Cy: Buy on the cheap or download for free!