Archive for the ‘QuickViews’ category

QuickView: Sacred Citadel

April 18, 2013

How does this happen? One minute we are starving for a brawler with decent netcode and the next we’re flooded with them! Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds had pretty good netcode, then Scott Pilgrim’s online patch finally hit and delivered decent netcode. Though not online, we just got our hands on Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons and its rough but challenging nature and now, Sacred: Citadel or as I like to call it: Dungeons & Dubstep (Shadow Over Mix-tara).

If you’re unfamiliar, Sacred: Citadel is a 3-player side scrolling beat ’em up spin-off of the Sacred series of Diablo clones. Not that you would be able to tell though as Citadel is brightly colored and cartoonish not just in visuals but in personality as well.

Initially I had thought the game was PSN exclusive but it is actually available on XBLA and Steam as well so it’s easy to get.

Initially the game seems to be very similar to Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara but with some Castle Crashers elements and not as good. The movelists, while bigger than most brawlers, are still sparse, the characters aren’t varied enough, and there isn’t much in the way of combo options. It isn’t until you play the Ranger that things click:

This is Castle Crashers meets King of Dragons!

It’s a very slight distinction but an important one and once you make the connection the game really clicks. The excessively fast attacks, the sparse moveset, the ranged attacks, even the odd choice of making the game 3-player instead of the more traditional four.

You get a choice of one of four characters: Warrior, Ranger, Shaman, and Mage. All characters are built off a similar base template: they all dual-wield the same weapons (swords, axes, and mace) and have a similar array of normal attacks. Mash X to combo, press Y and a direction mid-combo to knock the enemy in that direction, do a chain in mid-air and press Y to dive-kick, dash and press X to shoulder charge. The animations are different and the way the moves work may change slightly, but it is the same core set of attacks.

The reasoning behind this is that the different weapons have different effects. Axes can’t be blocked while maces have a chance to stun on top of whatever elemental attributes they have. In mixing and matching your two dual-wielded weapons you can personalize the effects of your basic attack string.

What separates each character is their Y button attack. This character-specific secondary weapon usually embodies their ranged capabilities. The Shaman shoots a quick magic burst, the Mage shoots a ball of magic, the Ranger unleashes a barrage of up to 5 arrows (and can move while shooting), and the Warrior just slams enemies with a giant hammer. As you progress you unlock more moves as well which further differentiate the characters. The Shaman can do a quick burst of magic that buffs nearby, the Mage can shoot an area of effect magic burst around her, the Warrior can throw his hammer, and the Ranger can juggle enemies in mid-air with his arrows. Characters also have 3 different super moves unique to them as well.

What I’m getting at here is that the characters seem really similar at first, but differentiate themselves greatly as the game progresses.

The items and inventory work identical to Castle Crashers: You only carry what you’re actually using, but there is a town where you can switch back to your collection of old weapons.

It is also worth mentioning that the game offers plenty in the way of defensive options. Blocking, double jumps, and even dodge rolls with the right analog stick are all here.

Though it does have some day 1 DLC in the form of extra levels, the packed in 20 stages are more than enough to justify the $15 pricetag.

But lets get to what you’re really wondering: How is the netcode? The answer: incredible. The game does not focus on sync too much and will instead teleport players to where they need to be should they lag. The result is that your control is never interrupted and the worst you’ll have to deal with is occasional camera hiccups from the sudden teleported player. I just played a 3-player game with someone in Japan and had no real issues.

So what are the game’s issues? Well once you get past the awkwardly fast attack speed and accept that this isn’t a super deep combo brawler, not too much. The biggest problem is that you can only have one player per class. If there is already a Shaman in your game and that is who you main? Well then you’ll either have to use a different character or find a different game. I find this to be the game’s biggest flaw.

The game also isn’t very clear on what your different supers do and once you have two meters it seems you can only do a level 2 super. This is an issue for the Shaman (guess who I main) as she uses buffs. Her level 1 heals the entire group while her level 2 is a big buff to the entire group. So sometimes you kinda want to heal everyone but you can’t because you can only buff them because you have too much meter.

Or at least I personally haven’t found a way to do a level 1 super with two bars.

Beyond that I haven’t found much to complain about. Again it’s not super deep so it can get boring if you play for too long, but I can safely say it is far from mindless.

Visually the game is interesting. It uses brightly colored cel-shaded 3D models to produce a very unique visual style.

The music is also pretty neat with some very odd style choices, such as the main menu music that can only be described as “Fantasy Dubstep”. Yes, mixing woodwinds and violins with dubstep “wubs”. It’s quite surreal.

The only thing more surreal was realizing that the entire first chapter consists of different remixes of Golden Axe’s first stage theme. Seriously, it sounds impossibly similar.

So yeah, in short a good time to be had! Not super deep and definitely more fun in multiplayer than in single, but good netcode and an awesome audio visual style make it well worth a look. It’s no Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara, Dungeon Fighter Online, or Dragon’s Crown but it will at the very least tide us over until they hit and is good fun in its own right.

Ballparked Score:

3.7~4 out of 5

Oh right! Current progress? End of chapter 2. Level 18 Shaman, level 5 Ranger, level 3 Mage, and level 1 Warrior. Played some online in random public matches. No luck roping my friends into this one yet.

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QuickView: Tomb Raider (2013)

April 6, 2013

You know, I was never really a big fan of Tomb Raider. I didn’t really enjoy the games and always found the character of Lara Croft to be overrated. Yes, seriously. There were dozens of awesome female leads in videogames that predate her: Baraduke, Valis, El Viento, Metroid, Ninja Princess, Legendary Wings, Trouble Shooters, Arrow Flash, Burning Force, Rolling Thunder II, Athena, and Psycho Soldier just off the top of my head.

However with all the talk about this new Tomb Raider I had to take a look. The moment I saw it I knew exactly what they were trying to do: make Lara Croft into a “true female character” (don’t get me started) and make her “more believable” (something that backfired for Other M, Ninja Gaiden III, and DmC already). Then that whole “rape” debacle happened with a QTE sequence getting misconstrued and a PR guy utterly screwing the pooch on his explanation of it. Suddenly this new Lara was even worse than the old one. Then it was revealed that Rhianna Pratchett was writing this mess and suddenly everyone shuts up and then opinions do a complete 180 with the game being celebrated for its “phenomenal writing” and “strong female character”.

So I gave it a rent. I had to know what the deal was. Besides, trailers made it seem interesting if not exactly Tomb Raider. A survival horror game where the horror is actually in the survival aspect? I’m not a fan of the genre but the concept is interesting!

So, having forced myself 2/3rds of the way through the game (I stopped half-way through the escape from the Solari base) what do I think?

Well the game was nothing like what I thought it was going to be, not being even remotely survival horror-esque for better or for worse. I’m starting to think the people who cut videogame trailers have only ever seen horror movie trailers. The writing was nothing special, the story and gameplay clashed drastically until the game devolved into screaming stupidity, and this new Lara is neither super progressive nor offensive.

I’m cool with that last part. There is such a thing as trying too hard and my early impression was afraid of that.

No, the game just got stupid.

First of all, as an origin story this game sucks. If you wanted to tell the origin of Lara Croft you’d start with her surviving the plane crash that killed her parents. That was where she decided to become an explorer archeologist thing. Here she has already decided that and is in college and on an expedition. It doesn’t really tell you why Lara is doing this.

Shortly after this, the ship crashes, Lara washes up on shore. Contrary to what you might have seen, she isn’t alone. She waves to her friends and then gets bonked on the head and dragged off without anyone knowing…somehow.

From there the game becomes Heavy Rain. You basically just follow button prompts and walk forward with little actual control. Credit has to be given as they managed to make Lara’s movements incredibly natural. Her pacing changes, she puts her hand against the wall, she looks around, she rubs her arms, she holds her side. It’s very natural and very impressive. Unfortunately, it does make the controls a little sluggish and worse, detatches you from the character. I feel less like I am Lara Croft and more like I’m some invisible guy behind her, pushing her into death traps.

The blending of cutscenes and gameplay is also impressive as it cuts away and back to gameplay so smoothly and seamlessly it…well it really is like watching a movie. Eventually though you begin to realize when you are and aren’t in control of the action. Often the game would expect me to hold forward and I wouldn’t be. So Lara would just walk forward for a while then stop as if confused that I’m not blindly holding forward.

The first chunk of the game is somewhat aggravating. It tries so hard to be realistic and succeeds so well it starts to feel like a cheap movie based on a videogame more than an actual videogame. The characters look more like poorly dressed actors playing the characters than the actual characters.

Not to mention the game takes great pleasure in showing all the pain Lara goes through. It lavishes in her specialized death cutscenes that start reminding me of Dragon’s Lair…minus the humor. Worse still is how the game seems to skip this when it involves enemies. Lara gets crushed by rocks? You will watch. Enemy gets crushed by rocks? Let’s just look the other way real quick now.

This happens so often and Lara gets so beat up it starts to get uncomfortable…then she steps in a bear trap and the game crosses the absurdity event horizon.

At that point you realize the game really is out to get Lara. Every platform will crumble, every object will fall, every rope will break. It just gets stupid! Now the game gets fun but only because it’s so dumb! Now I’m laughing at the stupid thing! “Uh oh! Dramatic camera angle! I wonder if this rope is gonna break!”.

Soon you find yourself running down exploding hallways and shouting “Looks like I’m gonna hafta juuump!”…and then you realize this is the fifth exploding hallway you’ve run down, and that your character keeps veering in random directions while you just hold up, and that you have no clue why these hallways keep exploding!

Then you have the enemies. You see, you often catch badguys talking to eachother and…they sound disturbingly normal. In fact you find out they’re just like you and are only in this crazy cult because the cult leader is a psychopath…but you kill them. You murder them in cold blood and…well no game has ever made me feel more like a murderer than Tomb Raider. I legitimately feel bad for killing these guys! Well…kind of. Once you cross the “Absurdity Event Horizon” I just start grinning like a madman and laughing.

Part of the problem may come from the intentional choice to have the enemies avoid “engendered insults” because of the backlash(?) Arkham City recieved. Meanwhile Lara gets to scream “That’s right you bastards! I’m coming for you all!”.

…you know I just realized something: why is it that every time someone deliberately tries to make a “strong female character” they come off like a psychopath? Janeway, Wonder Woman 2011, and now this. Is that just me? Is it some kind of weird gender prejudice I’m not aware of or is it the result of trying too damn hard?

This game is stupid.

For a while I was enjoying it. I considered it a weird mix of “so bad it’s good” mixed with sky high AAA production values. Like Mind Jack with a budget!

Then, I got to the Shanty Town.

This is where the game shits the bed as it’s the first big setpiece action scene with huge numbers of enemies. When fighting 5 guys in a hallway, the game works. But a big open area with 10+ guys and the combat just falls apart.

For the most part it’s Gears of War except Lara automatically takes cover. She also likes to automatically switch weapons. You see what I mean about not feeling like you’re in control? This leads to some irritating inconsistency that makes the game very irritating to play.

See, you don’t have an on-screen health meter and enemies also have machine guns…and there are a lot of them. One shot from a machinegun and you’re dead. They might also throw grenades, which will kill you instantly, or try to rush you down and stab you…killing you instantly. With such a big area and so mkany enemies it’s hard to keep track of them all.

Now you could use Survival Instincts to spot them all…but that usually doesn’t work for some reason. It only highlights enemies when it feels like it. You could shoot then enemies but how many bullets/arrows they take seems completely random. Sometimes you can off a guy in two shots, other times you have to dump a whole round into them.

Then the enemies get in close and you try to dodge, but how far you dodge and in what direction are not completely in your control. You could throw sand in their face, but sometimes Lara just…doesn’t. Sometimes she does and the enemy just doesn’t react. Then you get the ability to use the ice pick as a melee weapon and this can off a guy in two hits! …or three…or five…or never.

After about three sections of this barely controllable bullcrap I had enough. I couldn’t plan, I couldn’t strategize. Everything fell apart because nothing was consistent. After spending a good hour just trying to get through one stupid bullshit room, I quit. Every time I was doing well a stupid piece of instant death would come out of nowhere. At times it felt like I just exploded for no reason.

In closing, Tomb Raider is weird. It is well aware of the commonly mocked separation of story and gameplay and how a character can act completely differently in each, it tries to fix this, but it manages to make it worse than ever before. It tries to make it seem like Lara was pushed to the edge and like killing other humans is difficult, but it just turns it into a joke. It tries to be a big budget well written game, but it winds up being the most laughably badly written mess I have played since Mind Jack! It tries to be hyper polished yet somehow manages to be screamingly inconsistant with it’s gameplay.

It’s here that we learn that Tomb Raider does not want to be a game. At all. All the money, all the budget, all the effort went into the graphics and the attempted writing and smoothly transitioning into cutscenes and making things feel natural. The result is that when the game is actually forced to be a game, it utterly falls apart. It’s not bad perse and I could see how one could enjoy it…but it’s not entirely a game either.

If I had to ballpark a score?

~3/5

Not bad. Not really that good. Not sure if game.

EDIT: Perhaps the reason I got stuck is because they just gave me the grenade launcher and were expecting me to spam it. Problem is the grenade launcher does not show the arc of the grenade and it can only hold so much ammo. As such I did not find it to be consistent or effective. Maybe the game gets less enemy happy later on and thus returns to being playable but again, it’s barely a game. I’m barely in control. No. This game is not my cup of tea.

Also I admit I did not stop and smell the side-ruins as I was too busy rushing through to see as much of the story as I could. Shamed as I am to admit it, I played this like a bad reviewer more than like myself. But again, that’s why this isn’t a review. I had to re-rent this 3 times just to coherce myself to get as far as I did. I found the game utterly unenjoyable most of the time and I did have more fun with Mind Jack. At least it was consistent.

I’m pretty sure this game wanted me to play it in a very specific way and since I did not follow it’s script I got fucked. I’m sorry but no.

 

EXTRA EDIT:

Here, have a video of the exact spot I quit at and a good example of why and what I mean about inconsistancy.

There was about an hour of this at just this spot. I had these same difficulties in two other spots. I’m done.

QuickView: Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons

April 6, 2013

So I’ve obsessed over the disappointingly cancelled Korean made remake of Double Dragon II and its surprise un-cancelling. I understand that the game does not look good but I truly felt there may have been more to the game than what we saw.

So, now that the game is out do I still feel that way? Yes.

Also, the game’s price was dropped to a more proper 800 MSP.

See, this game is rough. Not particularly visually impressive, lots of inexplicable slowdown, and kinda sluggish controls. Couple that with the absolutely brutal difficulty where screwing up means losing 3 continues to constant near-unstoppable pummellings from foes (which is almost tradition for Double Dragon) and well…this game is destined to get some pretty bad press.

Having said that the game is far from unplayable and certainly not bad so much as rough.

The gameplay is noticeably different from any previous rendition of Double Dragon II with 8-way running and whatnot. Much of it revolves around building chains and not getting hit. That might sound obvious but there’s more to it than that. You see, ever 4 hits you get a Power Blow stock. Consecutive hits also recharge your Specials. You do Power Blows by holding RT and pressing Punch or Kick, resulting in a super strong move that slows time. However, you can only do Power Blows mid-combo. As soon as your combo stops or your chain is broken you lose your Power Blow stock (but not your Special stock). So you could just mash Punch while holding RT and you’d automatically use a Power Blow when you could, or you could stash them up and unleash them in a flurry of powerful hits resulting in ext screaming “Double Strike!” and “Triple Strike!” on screen.

Specials are RT+A and as mentioned earlier, you collect stocks of them. These range from spin-kicks to fireballs to rapid punches. Disappointingly, you can only have one equipped at a time and which one you have is determined by Power Ups collected throughout the game. Still they are a nice touch and add some extra flair to the game.

Darn shame there’s no way to tell how many stocks of Specials you have. Oh there’s a meter for Power Blows, but not Specials. Weird.

As for keeping your chains from being broken, this revolves around paying attention to your enemies and utilizing Perfect Guard and your Back Elbow (RB or LB).

Having said that the controls are still kinda sloppy. It can be hard to move with precision, making trap-based stages (especially the Combine scene in The Killing Field) rather annoying. Jump kicks also don’t come out as easily as they should thanks to the controls.

One thing that is particularly interesting is that the game has been upgraded in the two years since we last saw it. My reviewer friend tells me it controls much better than it used to. More than that, you can see the changes. Watch the old trailer and notice that the on-screen text was much more plain. Also, they added Porings to the game.

Yes. Porings.

It also seems the cleaned up the text translation in the process as well…but did not re-record the voices, resulting in some truly glorious Engrish:

BRILLIANT.

Notice the bit at the end with the gameplay, though? That is what the game should look like if you’re playing “properly” and are on your A-Game.

So not great but not bad, has a definite charm to those willing to tolerate all the rough spots. It is at the very least a respectful remake of Double Dragon II (the guy who runs the Double Dragon Dojo is even credited in the end credits). No, it’s not Double Dragon Neon. It is, in fact, the polar opposite of Double Dragon Neon. That can be a good thing, a bad thing, or just a different thing depending on your stance.

But overall? Not too bad.

Currently at the final boss fight on Normal difficulty. Shoot at this rate I’ll probably just clean this up and make it a Review in a few days if I don’t get lazy!

(Spoilers: I’m gonna get lazy.)

 

EDIT:

Forgot to ballpark a score:

2.8~3/5

Not great but not awful. Having spent a little more time with it though, the bosses have issues and do kinda wreck the game. Fighting the grunts works great though with the right amount of skill and strategy to the action.

QuickView – DmC: Devil May Cry

March 26, 2013

Me and the Devil May Cry series never really got along. While I enjoyed the combat, the stage design irritated me massively! Combat and the rest of the stage were completely separate and the lack of music in the stage drove me crazy! Not to mention the stages themselves were little more than mazes full of puzzles!

Shoot, when you look at it like that it seems more like an action RPG than an actual action game! In which case, nearly any good Tales Of game completely destroys it! It’s a…weird way to think about things.

As such I really only enjoyed the original Devil May Cry series for about…well the first two stages of Devil May Cry 3. Having said that, I did really like Bayonetta as it almost completely scrapped the stages and focused more on the combat, resulting in something closer to a beat ’em up.

Having said that, I did like Dante.

So, when the alternate universe reboot from Ninja Theory caused such a fan outcry yet received incredibly smug rave reviews? Well I had to take a look. My reaction was…mixed.

First of all, lets clear up the confusion about the fan outcry. A lot of people seem to think this is a lot of fuss just about hair color. It’s not. Dante in this game is very much a different character that to many fans of the original could come off as far less tolerable or outright loathsome.

This is not because Dante was a deep or complex character though. Not even remotely! It was because Dante was a fun character! Lets just be blunt here: Dante was a Ninja Turtle. There’s no other way to put it, he’s a damn Ninja Turtle. Always cool headed, cracking stupid jokes, and excessively over-skilled. He’s completely and utterly unrealistic, but he was exactly the kind of character we as nerds used to idolize as kids except a little more mature.

The new Dante, however, comes off as sleazy. The main menu is him getting a psuedo-blowjob from a bunch of angels (they’re just sucking his fingers while he makes a gun with them, but the image is clear) and the game opens with him at a strip club and banging two of the girls there. From there he adopts this “I don’t care about anyone” attitude.

The result is changing Dante from the kind of guy nerds used to idolize as kids to the kind of guy who used to beat nerds up for their lunch money as kids. It’s awkward to say the least.

In many ways this change, and the general reaction to it and people who were not fond of it represents something sinister happening to the industry and perhaps we were picking up on that subconciously. In many ways the new Dante is taking something nerds used to love and re-purposing it for the “general audience”. This is “dudebro”-friendly Dante and people who don’t like him have every right to be annoyed with the change.

 

Then again, this whole game’s attitude rubs me the wrong way.

 

Ninja Theory openly stated that they don’t like Devil May Cry, that they thought Dante was a stupid character, and that the games were lame. On one hand, having them handle the games could provide a fresh perspective. What would people who don’t like the series change to make it better? On the other hand, Ninja Theory could just be a bunch of elitist assholes.

Guess what? They’re a bunch of elitist assholes.

Now if you’ve seen my Transformers: Cybertron Adventures review, you know I am very sympathetic when it comes to game companies. I know how hard it is to make games, I’ve tried many times in the past. This is not an easy feat and I often feel that reviewers are assholes for not recognizing this. Look at the beautiful vistas and creative art design of Blades of Time, for example! Oh sure I’m hard of Dimps for their awful stiff fighting game controls, but I still give them credit when it comes to their fantastic graphical work and awesome Sonic games. Generally speaking I respect the companies that make these products.

However, I want to fly to Ninja Theory’s headquarters and slap every one of them upside the head. I don’t think I have ever had less respect for a company than I do for Ninja Theory. I have played every single one of their games and every single one of them rubbed me the wrong way, but this one takes the cake!

You see, the game opens by explaining that the current national debt crisis? Yeah that’s the fault of demons blackmailing the President. Meanwhile Dante is the only person who can see the world for what it truly is, able to see past the lies of society, man! That’s why he’s so cool, see! So he teams up with Anonymous to defeat Fox News and the Giant Bill O’Reily head.

I wish I was making that up.

Yes, if ever a game was too topical, DmC would be it. I mean really? REALLY?! This is your “better” take on Devil May Cry? This is the more mature look at the series? This is the more realistic one?! I’m sorry but this just comes off as elitist hipster bullshit. Like someone is trying too hard to be “mature” and “topical”. This is some head-in-ass arthaus bullcrap!

And I really can’t get over that main menu. Was it really necessary to have us watch Dante get a blowjob every time we start the game up? Does that really add anything to the game? Did I mention the damn blowjob is animated?! How about the fact that the characters giving Dante said blowjob aren’t even actual characters! This is seriously just here to be offensive! It’s not funny, it doesn’t have a point, it’s just…”Hey how about we have Dante getting a blowjob on the main menu! That would be badass!”

It’s a level of immaturity that even Duke Nukem would balk at!

Lets not mince words here, I gave DOA5 a positive score, I put 200 hours into Rumble Roses XX, and I am currently playing Hyperdimension Neptunia V. I am hardly opposed to fanservice or sexy women and I most certainly am against censorship. However this damn title screen really bothers me! It makes me ask the question: WHY? Why is this here? What purpose does it serve?

Then again, as you play through the first stage there is a scene where a giant demon destroys a rack full of wigs. One of the wigs, which looks like Dante’s old hairstyle, falls on his head. He looks in a mirror and says “Not in a million years!”.

On one hand it’s kind of funny to see a game make fun of the fans like that. On the other hand, it really gives you an idea of the game’s attitude. It is, again, trying to piss off the fans. It is trying to annoy people. It wants you to be offended.

Well I am. The sheer smugness of this game is reprehensible and utterly ruined my enjoyment of it.

…which is a shame because the game is not bad!

Yeah, sorry to spend so much time rambling about why the game rubbed me the wrong way so hard but I had to say my piece. With so many reviewers claiming those who don’t like the game are just whiners, I really felt like I had to go into detail explaining what it was that annoyed me so hard that I literally could not enjoy the game!

GELcantenjoyhisDmC

First of all, the game looks great! Infact this is the first time Ninja Theory’s character models didn’t have me screaming into the sky, probably because of the lack of Asian characters. Oh I don’t like Dante and Vergil’s designs at all, but they don’t look as awful as some of Ninja Theory’s previous designs (though the modelling was incredibly detailed on their old stuff too).

The environments, however, are the real show stealers! They take normal everyday places and twist them into the strange limbo world that  Dante must navigate. Words fly everywhere, giving subliminal messages while pieces of the area fly around creating some of the most visually logical platforming environments ever!

Thankfully, there actually is some platforming too! Yes, the stages are more linear and much better designed with platforming elements and a slightly more clear indication of where you need to go.

The world is less irritatingly silent as well and the music is more plentiful and varied. Indeed, many of my own personal complaints with the series were addressed!

The combat seems a little watered down compared to previous games but only a little. There is still plenty of move variety and a wide array of combo-licious options available to the player.

But, there were still issues.

First of all, while the presence of platforming was appreciated, the actual jumping is kinda awful. Dante jumps like Vega in this game: straight up at mach speed, and then falls like a rock. This is very awkward to try and platform with. As you progress you get a glide ability and grappling hooks which make the platforming much more plausible, but the base jumping still feels weird.

The combat and the stage still feel separate from one another in the stages I played and the areas between combat sections still felt too long. I really wanted Dante to just get there faster.

Meanwhile the combat was rarely enjoyable. You usually had to deal with flying enemies who annoyed you with projectiles while you were trying to face a melee enemy on the ground. I know that’s a perfectly reasonable challenge, but it really got annoying. It felt like every enemy had a stupid gimmick to beating them. I know later on enemies glow red and blue and can only be damaged with specific weapons. That just…sounds irritating.

Speaking of arbitrary glowing, that also applies to platforming. You have a grappling hook and certain hooks glow blue while others glow red and that tells you what kind of hook move you can use. One pulls you towards the object, the other pulls the object towards you. What’s that? Would either work just as effectively in a certain situation? Well too bad because you’re only allowed to do one or the other, which gets irritating when the game decided to have you rapidly switch between red and blue hooks in mid-air.

Then you have The Tutorial Zone. Every time you get a new ability you are taken to this one neat looking parallel dimension stage. It looks neat the first time you go there, but it quickly gets irritating as the stage is way too long and is an obvious tutorial. It doesn’t feel like you’re making progress, just being told in excessively explicit detail what to do.

The result is a game that irritated me and when I was dragged into The Tutorial Zone again at the start of the 4th stage, I put the controller down and quit. I had lost all desire to play the game. It was just annoying. Not hard, not challenging, just irritating.

Yet despite this fact I’d ballpark the game at:

3.5~4 out of 5

Yes, despite all my bitching DmC really isn’t bad. In fact, I would call it Ninja Theory’s best game! The controls are responsive, the combat is deep, the stages are inspired, it’s a really neat game! Hardly mindblowing, but if we were being objective it’s decent at worst and good at best.

In fact, personally, I like it more than every other Devil May Cry game with the exception of the first two stages of Devil May Cry 3 (and Bayonetta if you count that).

It’s just all those little irritants that bothered me. From the smug game direction to the annoying design elements, this was one of the least enjoyable games I have ever played. Again that doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it…irritating. The game literally repels me.

Of course what really drive that point home is the smugness of the reviewers. I’m sorry but nearly every review felt like it bumped up the score just to spite the fans who complained so that the reviewer could say “I’m better than you because I didn’t whine about DmC!”.

I don’t normally name names but perhaps the best example of that would be Benette the Sage’s video review, where he mentions how cleverly the game uses colors by having a glowing red stage where you can’t see which enemies are glowing red. In any other game, Benette would have complained about that and said it was awful and irritating stage design. But here, it’s praised because liking DmC makes you better than everyone else apparently.

If ever a game’s smugness could reach critical mass, DmC is it. Not a bad game at all, but not one I ever want to touch again.

What are QuickViews?

March 26, 2013

It’s a fact that reviewing a game properly takes a lot of time and effort. Unlike movies, which are a sort of passive experience, games require player interaction. They require more physical skill and more time than a movie would to review (in movies, 3 hours is considered long. In games, 10 hours is considered average/short!). It’s sort of a thing that gets overlooked much of the time.

While I personally do not feel you need to beat a game to review it (understanding it and exploring all the options is far more important), one should spend a good amount of time with a game.

This blog being a personal endeavor and me not really being a paid professional, I tend to update very infrequently and only review when I feel confident that I fully “get” the game.

More than that, I tend to prioritize the most overlooked games and thus my opinion on what is actually popular and successful is rarely heard!

Case in point, my current priority is Dance Magic, a low budget Russian made PSN dancing game which has been out more than a month yet has less than 100 people on its leaderboards and not a single review. Now that is the kind of game that GameBabble was built on! (Seriously, I started with a review of Counter Force a rail shooter so obscure GameStop didn’t even know it existed 3 months after its release!)

As such, I present QuickViews! Yes an excuse to do a brief editorial blab about how I felt about my latest rental or how a game I am working on a review of is currently shaping up.

These, however, are not reviews. I might ballpark a score (with gratuitous tilde use) but I intend to be fully transparent on how far I got in a game before coming to my conclusion. I don’t doubt “You need to get further” will be said a lot here, and I accept that. But it will be a good way to chronicle my oddball opinions on games with actual budgets. As such, let us begin!