Bioshock Infinite Review By DB

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The original Bioshock came out in the early days of the PS3/Xbox 360 era, just when first person shooters were rising quickly in popularity.  Instead of being another on rails FPS like the Call of Duty series or an open world one like Far Cry 2, it was a straightforward game that encouraged you to explore.  However, the biggest difference is that the world you played in was unlike anything you have ever seen.  The underwater city of Rapture was an amazing sight, and playing it was genuinely creepy.  So much detail went into the design of the game that it is widely considered one of the best FPS games ever released, and with good reason.

The sequel came out a couple years later and, while still a good game, fell short of the original. It was more of the same, but with a few minor improvements. When the reaction to the second one wasn’t quite what they had hoped, the developers decided to tell a new story in a new location. The end result is what I consider to be one of the best games of this type to come out in recent memory.

bioshock-infinite-elizabethInstead of taking place in the dark, atmospheric underwater utopia of Rapture, we are placed in the bright, happy floating city of Columbia. At least it appears happy. It’s citizens are all part of what is basically a religious cult led by the messed up Father Comstock. You play as Booker DeWitt, a man on a mission to rescue a young woman in order to wipe away his debt. Once you’re accused of being a false prophet, the s**t hits the fan and you are fighting through the city both fighting for your life and the life of Elizabeth, the girl you were tasked with rescuing.

Make no mistake though – while you don’t actually control Elizabeth, she provides so much help that she becomes a very integral part of the game. So much, in fact, that during the times she is not with you, you miss her. Also, she is not the typical NPC that follows you around constantly. If you put the controller down and not move, she will actually wander around looking for coins and lock picks for you to grab. She also displays genuine emotion – if you’ve done something that upsets her, she will glare or scowl at you and refuse to look you in the eye. It’s all quite amazing to watch, and as great as the game is, the Elizabeth character makes it that much better.

As for the gameplay itself, it pretty much flawless. There is a few hiccups here and there, but they’re not easily noticeable. The game is also fairly challenging, even on normal difficulty. The only real issue I had was with the actual ending, which was a little convoluted for me. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, I just didn’t understand some of it.

I highly recommend this game to everyone, not just for being a fun game, but for having a great story. If a Bioshock movie ever does get made, I hope they base it off this chapter instead of the Rapture games. There is so much more story to tell in this universe!

5/5 stars

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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

 

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

Grid 2 Release Date; Pre-order Bonuses

Following on the heals of the Grand Theft Auto V release date announcement, Codemasters, the developers of Fuel, Dirt and Grid have announced May 28, 2013 as the North American release date for Grid 2.  The UK will have to wait until May 31 .

To the right you can see the official box art which was also revealed.  The PS3, Xbox 360 and PC will all share the same box art.

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Grand Theft Auto V Release Date: September 17, 2013

Grand Theft Auto V has finally been given an official release date of September 17, 2013, four months after the originally planned release window of spring ’13.

As expected, this comes with a mix of fan reactions.  Form posts are ranging from disappointed to completely understanding:

“R* u let alot [sic] and i mean ALOT [sic] of people down today”  — TNAECW

“All I’m saying is Rockstar “Take all the time you need” There’s obviously a good reason, what would you guys rather?They rush it and it turns into a bad games which we’ll all be disappointed in … or an epic game Rockstar has promised?” — NUMBER1FAN

On their website, Rockstar apologizes and promises that “the entire team here is working very hard to make the game all it can be”.  They also state that they are doing what they can to “ensure [GTAv] will meet if not exceed your expectations come September.”

Rockstar is asking that fans try to refrain from being abusive in the comment section and, if necessary, they will suspend forum privileges:

… this does not give you free reign to be abusive in comments. The general rules of common courtesy, decency and behavior as listed above the Comment Box still apply here, therefore anyone continuing to post abusive comments will have their privileges suspended.

Although this is posted on the official Rockstar website, I’ve seen so many rumored release dates and read so many headlines and “insider reports” about the release that I find myself wondering if this is even true.

I don’t mind this date.  Rockstar calls this game “massive and complex” and if this is true, four extra months to work out any issues and add a little extra polish should be appreciated by any true gamer.

JB