Walking Dead: Survival Instinct review by DB

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Gamers have spent years debating a ton of different things, but one thing they all agree on is that most “official” licensed games suck. Sure, the ones based on comics (Batman), cartoons (Disney) and those set in the universe of pre-existing properties (Star Wars) are usually pretty good, but the ones based directly off of movies or TV shows are usually, well, terrible. Any gamer worth his name knows about the debacle of the E.T. game back in the early 80’s that basically sunk the original Atari. Yet, after numerous failed attempts at quick cash-ins, game studios continue to release them again and again.

Daryl-Dixon-The latest casualty is The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. Releasing this so close to the massively successful Telltale game from 2012 was a huge mistake – there was never a chance it could match it in quality. But the biggest travesty is that the game took what could have been a great opportunity and so clearly rushed it that it ultimately fails.

Don’t get me wrong – there are some good ideas to be seen. As it takes place before the hit series, they wisely chose to base the game around popular characters Darryl and Merle Dixon. Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker, the actors from the show, provide the voices which is awesome. The idea behind the game is actually good, and the story is interesting. But sadly, that’s where the good stops.

What starts out as a good idea eventually becomes endlessly repetitive. While the game is relatively short, doing the same thing time and time again becomes a boring chore. There is no investment whatsoever in the supporting characters. While you are offered multiple paths, they all have the same goal – go here/grab that/kill zombies. Then there’s the graphics… the poor, poor graphics. Looking like something that may have been lower end GameCube graphics is disheartening when seeing them on a high end system.

When I started playing, I could look past the graphical issues and enjoy the game, but after doing the same thing for the fifteenth time I started losing interest. What sucks, is being the trophy whore that I am, I’m going to need to finish this game at least 3 more times. Once I get that platinum, this is getting traded in!

1.5 stars out of 5

DB

 

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God of War: Ascension review by DB

 

 

God of War: AscensionThe PlayStation years have given us some of the best “exclusive” game series, but few have managed to last through more than one console generation. The God of War series has now gone through PS2, PS3 and PSP versions and continues to grow. A hyper-violent, very adult oriented game that is usually a blast to play the series has blood, guts and naked breasts flying at the screen at an incredible rate. What should have been a fun, but throw away, game series has developed into a classic that shows of incredible animations as well as a well realized story.

kratosThe first game in the series is about Kratos, a once human warrior who comes to challenge the Gods of Mt. Olympus. His goal is to defeat Aries, the God of War, and be released from his binding with him. Each subsequent sequel has Kratos working his way through the Gods in order to reclaim his life. The latest chapter, Ascension, is a prequel to the first game and shows how the binding to Aries happens in the first place.

The story this time out is much less developed than the previous games. This is the most human Kratos has been since the games started, yet I cared about him the least. At times it feels that he is fighting for the sake of fighting, not for revenge. Of course, this shouldn’t matter as the real star of the game is its breathtaking visuals. Epic boss fights and landscapes make this one of the most visually stunning of the series.

Sadly, that may be the best thing I can say about the game. For a series known for its difficulty, this one seems a little too easy… except for one sequence near the end. The roughly ten minute segment is so annoyingly difficult, and so out of line with the rest of the game’s difficulty, that it could force you to quit all together. When it’s so bad that the developer has to release a patch to help, you may have a problem. Other than that, this is by far the weakest of the 6 games – at times it feels like a aborted PSP title that had its graphics souped up. It’s still worth a play if you’re a fan of the series, but it’s definitely not a good first step or the uninitiated.

3 out of 5 stars

 

 

 

 

Tomb Raider review by DB

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Sixteen years ago, the Sony PlayStation introduced us to a video game different than any other at the time. It had a fully detailed environment, full 360 degree controls, and starring a female heroine unlike no other. The game was Tomb Raider, and it was amazing. With it’s challenging puzzles, difficult learning curve and reasonably long campaign (for the time) it was embraced by many.

However, nothing quite stood out like Lara Croft, the star of the game. The character was so popular that she quickly entered the pop culture mainstream and became the most famous digital creation since Mario and Donkey Kong in the 1980’s. This may have been due in part to her overdone physique – it wouldn’t be an understatement to say feminists were outraged – but there was no denying her popularity. Even non-gamers knew who she was.

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Of course, like all winning video game series, sequel after sequel started being made. Of course, they started getting progressively worse and worse. The company tried something different on the PS2, but the result was the horrid Angel of Darkness. Things improved after that debacle, but they never fully recovered. Finally, someone decided instead of another half-assed game, to start from scratch and reboot the whole property.

Bringing Lara back to her roots may have been one of the best decisions made in the video game industry. Taking place before Lara becomes the fearless treasure hunter we know, this game shows a VERY vulnerable girl. She is scared, she gets hurt and you genuinely care for her – she is a human, not a superhero.

After her and her friends are stranded on an island, she must fight the elements, natives and other strange goings-on in order to survive. Armed with only a bow and arrow to start, there isn’t a thing that doesn’t prove a challenge. As the game progresses, she slowly starts turning into the hero we’ve come to expect.

As for the game itself, it runs unbelievably smoothly. Cutscenes transition into gameplay nearly flawlessly. The controls, aside from a few aiming issues, are superb. Trophy/achievement hunters will find lots of stuff to do. Once the game is over, the island opens and becomes you’re own personal playground. The only real downside to the game is the multiplayer – it is completely unnecessary and shouldn’t have been included. I understand the need some people have to play it, but this has always been a single player experience, there was no need to change it.

So, after years of low quality sequels and two botched movie attempts, the Tomb Raider series is finally back on track. This may be, dare I say it, then best PS3 game yet released – and I’m a huge fan of many of their games. Buy it, rent it, borrow it, whatever… just play it!

5 out of 5 stars