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Gex (1995) (VG)
Tubular, 21 October 2016

We've all been there. You're watching the idiot box. Gulp down a fly. Turns out, it was a transmitter sent by Rez. Sentient sharp silver teeth and claws. In nightmare fuel, he pulls you in, right through the screen. He wants you to be his mascot, so he can, of course, take over the world. Doesn't sound bad? You could live with making a living in a big, doofy stuffed animal suit? It's not that kind of... look, he wants to bronze you down. Now you're stuck in the Media Dimension. It's built entirely out of references to what you can catch on TV. Shows, movies, ads, you name it. All from the 90's, which this is a snapshot of. To get out, he'll need to collect the remotes and defeat dozens of enemies.

Sonic, Crash Bandicoot, Leo, Don, Raph, Michelangelo, etc. A product of his time, as a hero for kids, Gex is constructed of snark, attitude, and, the big difference, giving him and this their personality, nothing but pop culture. He compares what he sees to things, always accurately. MST3king what he's experiencing. He's always quoting, and occasionally acts out, scenes. I laughed through nearly every single one of them. And you *can* turn them off if you feel like it. None of them are about the plot, and you know who the character is regardless.

One of the most unique aspects for one of these, this allows you to, with ease, stick to and climb any flat surface with enough space for your body. This allows for a ton of different situations, and they are all used. The creativity in this area is tremendously memorable and enjoyable. You'll traverse areas using sinking stones, stars, even dangerous rockets, and more. This gets very challenging, and is one of the last old-school tough VGs. Sometimes cheaply so. This is *considerably* more forgiving than, say, Rayman, Crash Bandicoot, Heart of Darkness, Commander Keen, and I could go on. Big, chunky Polaroid camera checkpoint saves aid you greatly. Remember those? I do. *sigh* I shouldn't. No time limits. You will, however rarely, be pushed ahead, by the edge, so from left to right, as is the norm. There is going other directions, a lot of times. You can touch it. Do *not* be between it and something solid. Jump, often having to wait until you're almost out of room.

With many well-hidden secrets, it is tremendously replayable. Boss battles are difficult, fun and sufficiently different. Of course, they're not going to stun you with how unexpected they go. Dodge for a while, his method of targeting you alters, gradually increasing its intensity, then you get your window, that you have to recognize as such, and chip away at him. You know the drill. How to do it.

There are themes to everything around you. Horror, with Frankenstein, possessed tree stumps, evil, living tomatoes and a raving loon of a slasher villain. Animation, with quickly gnawed away carrots, pianos and anvils drop out of the sky with little warning, and purple smurfs assault you by throwing presents, after they roll in a ball. Adventure and martial arts get racist, typical for the period. Dancing, spear-wielding(!) natives. Sumo wrestlers whose stomachs you can bounce on after taking them out. Nevertheless, it couldn't be more clear: the developers parked in front of the tube for at least as long as you did. They loved what they saw. And they wanted to remind you that you did, as well. Obviously, this was made with us as the intended audience. Today, young whippersnappers who don't remember the decade, or hadn't even been born in time to see it, won't get as much out of it.

You can attack in a few different ways. They can all be directed to at least some extent. Your tail is versatile. Whip it good. No matter where your feet are. Decent range. You can tail-bounce on foes, anything else harmful, and breakable blocks. Not all of them... some will still hurt you. When it goes well, you get a lot higher, which is, of course, a skill you have to master. Your tongue allows you to do two things: Swallow powerups, and fire the ball that you might gain from that. Fire, melting others. Ice, freezing them... *not* fatally! They'll thaw in no time. And electricity, that goes diagonally, as well. If hit, you'll lose this. Of course, you can also increase your health, gain extra lives, become briefly invincible, and such. Or you can use them to recharge, instead. This is fairly similar to Earthworm Jim 1 and 2. Much more so than its other rivals. It does lack the volume of content of them.

You cannot save your progress in this, unless you own it on 3DO, as well as have, well, that console, and can still get it running. I envy both of you. In this, you have to find VHS tapes and am I really this old. Anyway. Those will provide you with the password to reach where you have progressed to. There isn't one in each section! This does mean that running out of lives isn't a problem. If you did so in one you had the code for. And you don't need your physical copy, or even the system you usually play on, in order to continue from where you got to. Maybe you don't have access to it. Perhaps it's just to quickly show a friend one of them. IMO, every game should allow both.

I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who thinks it might be for them. Also fans of action-adventure platformers, anything referenced herein. The Movie Connections page on here gives you an idea, albeit containing a mere fraction of all that is here. ...note to self: stop biting the hand that feeds you. I of course don't blame IMDb. Their wise and fair leaders are just in their approach to dealing with insults. 8/10

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Groovy, 5 October 2016

Colombia. A hospital needs protecting. The final mission before he retires to Miami. After it goes wrong, Sam(Campbell, and it is *his* show for sure: charming, goofy, serious when called for) faces an informal inquiry. What happened back there? With framing device securely in place, explaining the narration, we can begin.

Sanchez' charity aid worker is too similar to her infamous Niki, though the snark fits the tone of the franchise. She does end up less frustrating than that. Maybe it's that I've seen both her and Paolo in roles where I don't hate them. Xerxes! Even when they give him nothing to do, he's awesome. And she's solid in A Perfect Getaway, an enjoyable if flawed film. A role not everyone could have handled. A doctor, an angry teen girl, and a few individuals who shouldn't be trusted - good guys and bad alike are compelling. We get nice, big fireball explosions, gunplay, stunt work and more. Guerrilla warfare, strategy in the face of uneven odds, this fits right in. You can go into this blind, though there are great nods for the fans.

There is some bloody violence and disturbing content in this. The DVD comes with several extras. Its full hour and a half commentary track is informational and funny, featuring the star, the director and the show creator. There's 26 minutes of a great Comic Con panel. The Fall of Jeffrey Donovan is an 11 and a half minute joke documentary, as the talent supposedly cracks under the pressure – it's hilarious and easily the single best thing to come out of the production of the picture. The 1 and a half minute deleted scene is fine. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys spy action thrillers, and/or the work of the deeply enjoyable, the one, the only, the Bruce. 7/10

Average: Finally Tolerable, 30 September 2016

17 weeks after the events in Cameron's film, you and your unit arrives at the Sulaco. Something has gone very wrong, and it's up to you to find out what, and take care of it. You'll face countless PMCs, some Aliens, and more than a few head-scratching retcons in this fan-fic of a story. Weyland-Yutani keeps trying desperately to tame the universe's most drooling killing machine. The villain himself is straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon.

It's important to note that this is no longer broken. Well, other than the occasional hiccup. They patched the crap out of this thing, and fixed almost everything. That they could, that is. Some issues remain and mar the experience greatly. Plot, characters, dialog, writing and execution(do *not* get me started on the acting and lip sync) alike are definitely lacking. And yet, there are definite glimmers of talent. You do sometimes care. The types can be annoying, yet feel like they belong here. And the banter almost all works. Even if it has a tendency to go one line too far, ending on a sitcom punchline. All it's missing is a "wah-wah", or possibly a "that's our (blank)!" This adds a *lot* of customization and compelling new abilities for both species. The numerous guns, while too similar and limited especially for sci-fi, can be changed in a good amount of ways. Silencer, a handful of alternate fire options, stat changes galore. Strong, unique Legendary weapons add replayability. For what they can deliver, and recognizing the markings. Hudson, Vasquez, Different types of Xenos, they're given ranged attacks, tons of improvements on what was there before, etc. The real issue is that you can't practice this at your own pace. You have to improve, and even just learn, via multiplayer. And you will get slaughtered early on. That's when you can even find a match. No players, no server list, limited matchmaking, and I could go on. In two weeks, I barely spent any time in any of the too-similar modes. I hate to direct anyone to 2010's AvP, but that one you can play anytime, gets creative in how you approach it, and lets you try it at your own pace in SP.

The AI is hilariously inept. Maybe that's why your offline buddies are impossible to kill. They will run right into your line of fire, leave you to die, teleport to you if you get ahead, and more. Enemies might freeze in place, or just randomly run around. Their use of wall-walking seems more like they're showing off than their having a reason for doing so. The lack of enemy variety in these is lessened, though the Crusher, a huge one that's not that different from the Queen, is pointless. One spits acid at you, with nice speed and accuracy. Another will kamikaze, exploding in their blood. Thankfully, they can't see you. Which means you have to crouch-walk past them. Or stand perfectly still when they're completely next to you! Did I mention you were weaponless in this section? And that they look like fossilized husks until they start walking, surrounded by actual ones, so you won't know which is which until they start moving? The DLC are a mixed bag. I wouldn't get any of this if it's not on sale. The obvious ones to leave alone, for now, are the ones that consist entirely of MP maps. You can't play them by yourself. And without them, there are 10 to start with, a reasonable amount. They add up to 20 total. Ripley's signature bad-ass rescue facilitator is worth the asking price. Note that anyone you can don the look of are all slightly "off" in the face. There are enough shotguns without the one you can buy separately, and they don't lack ammo, reload speed and the possibility of alteration. Bug Hunt is rarely played. The two energy attacks are worthless. The S.H.A.R.P. Sticks mix things up and are the most interesting part of your arsenal in this whole thing.

Stasis Interrupted deserves detail. You play as a few different protagonists, you really get into it, it clocks in at 2 and a half hours meaning almost half the core product. The plentiful time spent alongside, unfortunately never as, Hicks is sadly somewhat soured by Michael Biehn clearly not wanting to be there. Even if you hadn't heard about that interview, it's plain to see in his performance. And I say that as one of his biggest fans. Compare to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon where he, as he also says, was having the time of his life.

Authenticity is through the roof. Everything looks, sounds and feels right. All memorable locations are not only visited, they're recreated in tremendous detail and every added section fits in so well, you'd swear you just didn't remember seeing that part in the films. The motion tracker finally works exactly right. You have all the equipment you see used. For some reason, you can carry every projectile delivery system, and even start out with a number of them from the beginning. Of course, you may not realize until after a while, and by accident, like it was for me. It's not common today to carry that many at once. And you can't cycle through them with any key. Oh, you can go back and forth between primary, secondary and which of the three pistols you have ready. As worthless as that is in the face of so much firepower that you basically cannot run out of ammo, no matter how inept you may be. You're stuck with the slow wheel which keeps you from moving, doesn't pause or even allow for it, selects whatever you were resting the cursor on even if you were just checking what had the most bullets left.

I recommend this only to the biggest fans of the franchise, and don't go out of your way to get your hands on a copy. 5/10

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Well, it mostly sits there, 6 September 2016

The zombie apocalypse is underway. Mac(stoner Rogen) and Teddy(charming Zac) have captured one of them, and it's time to deal with him. But do they have what it takes? This was made as an advertisement for Fear the Walking Dead. I should right off the bat note, I haven't watched an episode of the show, or the one it's spun off from, nor do I intend to. Let's be honest, it's a ridiculously over-saturated market. This runs a minute and a half, and is mostly the two talking about killing the zed.

Jokes come from their history and clashing personalities. This is far from the best material the duo have performed, but it's not the worst, either. The writing is pretty obvious. It has a distinct "thrown together in a hurry" feeling. To be fair, the production values leave little to be desired. The second film doesn't even come up, and there wasn't much room for it to in the skit's current form. Although with Kelly conspicuously missing, they probably didn't want that darn XX chromosome intruding. Hey, they barely knew what to do with them in either movie.

There is disturbing content and brief gory violence in this. I recommend it to fans of the series. It helps that it's free of charge, and, currently, you don't even have to leave this site to check it out. 7/10

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Is what you've heard true? 50/50. But which half?, 12 August 2016

A Dirty Dozen consisting of Metahumans is sent into a city to deal with something requiring their abilities – can they be trusted? Gritty, offensive, authentic... as a huge fan of all things David Ayer, this is most definitely one of his films. A very diluted one, however. He brings some of his own weaknesses, and he's hampered by his first directorial PG-13, that he pushes like Sisyphus would, fitting into a franchise that hasn't much resembled his style before now, *and* the re-shoots and haphazard editing of a number of executives screaming about how their, rather expensive, properties keep failing in spite of seemingly built-in promises of profit. It's amazing it's not a complete mess. Then again, some say it is. The single biggest problem is that for all the great action and distinct personality, it doesn't fully grab you.

There are quite a few questionable decisions, in particular on visual design. Dancing fire figures, grills in place of scarring, a villain similar to Thor's Destroyer, the list goes on. In spite of practical FX being the go-to, there ends up being too much CGI. The animal and Aussie might as well have been written out – all anyone would say is "they were in the comic, though". When this tries for drama, we often get sap. The pacing and flow are all over the place, with flashbacks strewn about as if someone dropped a box of them on the floor.

There is a ton of material that is very disturbing, violent and/or painted-over-gory in this. I recommend this to any fan of the DCEU(both of you), the source material, and, of course, those trailers... no, really, they did fit nearly every single one of those songs in there. For better or for worse. 5/10

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good stuff, 8 August 2016

This is the only extra on the regular DVD of Fury, well, my library's copy anyway, going into that movie. Why don't I own it, myself? Because this is hardly a picture that one can watch repeatedly. It simply takes too much of a toll on you, on a very deep, significant level. So of course, this featurette goes into how they got all the way there.

It is made up of interviews, sit-down, between takes and such, with crew, actors and vets, all getting a good amount of time, each with something interesting to say, footage, both stock from the real events and behind the scenes, and film clips.

This goes into the authenticity and what they went through to get there, to understand the reality. The cast ended up asking further questions to reach that. We aren't given many of the answers, or what was said at all. Merely that the exchanges took place. They became a family. We learn a lot about the training, both the one week and the on-going to keep in shape, in more ways than one. This does dip into being the unfettered love-fest typical for this sort of thing, but not only of the big names.

This is 10 and a half minutes in running time. There are almost no credits. It shows and tells almost nothing of the worst in detail, which does keep the rating low. Presumably to allow it to air on TV, and such. The feature pushes a hard R, so the DVD isn't exactly going to avoid offensive material. 7/10

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
You know his name is profitable, 29 July 2016

Jason(Damon, great as ever) comes back out of hiding to learn something about his past. Yup, business as usual. The CIA is hacked. But that's not important right now. Nicky(Stiles, as usual professional without being cold) is brought back just long enough to get screwed over. Privacy when using apps is given lip service. And at no point does this give any reason for its own existence.

This is what I had expected. The action was pushed as far as it could go by the end of the trilogy, so this goes slightly further, and ends up no longer quite realistic. Some of the worst parts of the trailers are nowhere to be seen, though. Entire lines and setups don't exist in the film itself. Bourne no longer feels like he has a plan, like he's being smart about how he approaches things. He survives things he shouldn't a la A Good Day to Die Hard, by dumb luck. The shaky-cam varies, too much or perfectly fine. It's clear Greengrass cared, and was happy to be back. This goes into action clichés the series had skillfully avoided before. The retired hero is brought back for one last job. He does it only for the sake of his family. His father suddenly matters, and you'll hate where they go with that. This gives us all we expect, and very early, at that.

The violence pushes the envelope, as is the style today, and wasn't when we last saw Matt in these. Body-count alone is ridiculous, especially considering who gives the kill orders. I recommend this only to those who value the protagonist's abilities over how his character is treated. 5/10

Shadow Warrior (2013) (VG)
Better than I expected, 15 July 2016

You are the top hit-man for the Zilla Corporation. Demons start invading Earth. It is up to you to retrieve the powerful Nobitsura Kage, a sword. Barely anything happens. There's almost no real plot here. There is backstory, and it is revealed almost entirely in exposition dumps. However, it is actually interesting. It involves half a dozen Ancients, including the ruler of the Shadow Realm where this starts, and the hordes are coming from. You know what happened almost right from the start. As you learn more, you come to understand why everyone did what they specifically did, and what it was like for them. And this has an ending, closure. There are elements that are clearly just setup for the next one. Which is happening, since this did well. Because if not, we wouldn't. But they don't take over here, and everything that matters is gone into. It could be less confusing, more engaging, less self-indulgent and told more fluidly. Cutscenes are in-engine POV and simple yet vivid animation of ancient scrolls. You are Lo Wang(Liebrecht, arrogant) and you're unwillingly partnered with Hoji(Dobrenko, eager). Both speak sarcasm fluently, and refuse to shut up. That gets old almost immediately. The latter was banished, with no memory of why. You need a guide, he can't interact with anything on this world. Not many are named, and you don't really wish there were more.

This took me 12 and a half hours. I experienced essentially all the content in minutes. It's repetitive and shallow. And also incredibly enjoyable. You will, as I did, spend almost all of this time using your katana to chop individual limbs off. They may live, and come at you, even crawling, zombie-style! You can thus take away their dominant hand, and thus their weapon and/or shield. This is tremendously easy and you can sleepwalk through it. Point in the right direction and click Attack a lot. You are hardly ever forced to use anything else. The rest of your arsenal is fine. Akimbo SMGs. Multi-barrel shotgun. Remote detonation sticky charge crossbow. Fire-bombing flamethrower. Laser pointer guided rocket launcher. That these are not as fun as they sound is an area where this fails.

Another reason you stay close-range in this is the Powers. Hold up Defense. Trap a handful of them. Shockwave. Heal at will. Actually, there are a lot of options for that kind of thing. Send out an arc of energy. Got a problem? Take a Stab at it. To unlock and upgrade those requires points, and this hands those out to you like candy. Well, outside of the Money for the weapons. Don't waste those. You might think you can't, going by the other two. It does kill the pace to deal with these, when, really, it could have just given you a quick multiple choice thing at those times. Yes, tapping a direction and then clicking and/or holding and releasing either mouse 1 or 2 can be awkward, and some find it straining on the wrists. I can't say: the damage is done, I've had mild carpal tunnel for years, and so never play for very long in one sitting.

This is visually impressive. While the graphics vary, they're never less than great, and can be excellent. This has beautiful sights, such as the breathtaking vistas. All designs are varied. Yes, the enemies largely use melee against you, and are almost exclusively humanoid. Still, they all look distinctly differently. Some partially glow green. Orange or yellow that burns. Not grey, bland or forgettable. Some can block, teleport, turn invisible, take you on from range, even fly. Rarely are you forced to sheathe your tool. Sometimes at glitches that prevent them from closing in on you. There are a few humans, shooting or fencing.

Tasks are straight-forward, and, as all else interactive in this, lack variety. Key-hunt and press buttons to turn bridges, raise and/or lower cranes, activate elevators, etc. Physics are at times slow to respond, with a fraction of a second of a delay. That's sadly enough to take us out of it. There are a handful of minor jumping puzzles, and nothing else of that type. This is enormously smooth. You can toss infinite Shurikens. They're not that effective. I mean, they do almost nothing to hurt. And they auto-aim, ricochet and the like. So they don't go straight when you want to use them like that, for setting off explosive environment hazards. Anything that looks like it could go off... vehicle, obviously gas tanks, etc. They use up Stamina. Almost nothing else does. Really, only Sprint, or for shorter and not merely Forward, Dash. Those are very useful. Keep away from danger. That includes facing the huge, 100s of metres tall boss fights. Those do get bogged down in tedium and grinding, as mini ones do, as well.

This isn't going to get you to come back. You can get and do almost anything you want on just one playthrough. It does help that there are 4 difficulty settings, with one additional you get upon completion. There's also a New Game + mode where you get to keep all you earned. And what you were just given for participating. You can save anytime, except for maybe right in the thick of it. Just get a few seconds between you and the dozens of them that you will often face down. There are cute nods to its source with textures and audio for the at times ill-hidden secrets. Arcade machines with titles by the developers or publishers. Levels are too open, leading to annoying backtracking, finding lots of dead ends. Good thing the door you need to take will always very clearly glow. You only have an issue whenever you can't see that, or it isn't about finding and going through it.

Constant violence: present. I recommend this to any fan of FPS'. 90's ones as well as modern ones that are throwbacks to those. 6/10

Killing Floor (2009) (VG)
Because "Murder Room" was too on-the-nose, 17 June 2016

London. Yup, with accents, slang and currency. A Biotech corporation conducts experiments that deform, mutate, and monsterfy people. They start spreading, and the gov't assembles any cop and such into a series of small teams to try to solve the issue. It's no secret why you're here. So they frontload that. This has over 33 weapons(not counting the pay-to-win DLC, which I have not purchased). The fire ones are obscenely enjoyable. You won't believe how far you can throw that flame. Bodies charring and coming apart. Regardless of what type you prefer, this has several for that one, including some of the most beloved, and they're all worth using. SCARMK17, HSG-1, M99 AMR, M32, etc. The Doom inspiration is clearly evident, and the only area this doesn't live up to it is in how bland and basic the enemy design is. They can hurt ya real bad, they look largely human, size difference is negligible and most can't even hit you from far away.

The obvious rival here is Left 4 Dead 2. I've already covered the creatures. Its chainsaw is more fun and "seems" less loud. The gibbing and melee is more satisfying. There's a sense of getting to where you're going, doing something to save someone. The dynamic pacing. Greater production values. Then, this is more tactical. More options, if only by a little, of what to carry and use. Sharing is required. This is tougher. Contagion-style welding, while far from the heights that reaches in spite of this being where it originates, can be vital here. It and healing can be done quickly and then it'll recharge. You can go back and forth, keeping subjects at a high rating. Heck, there are SMGs and ARs with darts to fix up your allies. Carry 3 at a time, and you can use each in quick succession. Zeds that face a door they can't open will tend to go elsewhere, meaning you're not slowing them down as much as redirecting them.

Earning money is how you better your arsenal. Unfortunately, that becomes a Catch-22. With what you start out, you can't take out that many, and thus don't make that much. Though the idea is that everyone shares, it often just doesn't work out like that. Why not automatically do that? Maybe you should open up with at least a little better stuff. Or give more ways to collect dosh. The modding community completely embraced this. There are 1.852 separate items as I type this. Personally, I had problems. I intended to do all maps first, and didn't realize the 50 subscription limit... since it does not tell you about it, I learned about it from the Steam boards. I got to try 92 of the 855, and then wasn't able to get anything new, left with just those. Joining someone with anything you don't have means it'll try to download, without telling you how much there is in total.

You will have to defeat the boss, The Patriarch. He's cybernetically enhanced with a M134 on one arm, and has... altered himself. He can turn invisible, and if not burning, can quickly get close or far away. Not a nice person, this one. To even reach him, you will have to get through the waves. 4, 7, 10, or a custom amount. On average, half an hour. Think Counter-Strike. A series of TDM sessions, that's this in a nutshell. You can always tell how many are left to take out. It gets to be 180 or so! Between these you visit the trader's, who then moves, preventing camping which I honestly didn't experience often in general. You can resell at a good rate, refill ammo, get body armor. And yes, this does raise questions. How are you getting cash? Implicitly looting bodies? What does she need it for? Why not hand out the arms for free?

This comes with more than the one mode. Objective is like an action-adventure. You find keys, locate goals, etc. There's actually kind of plot during this. You're in the specific area, there's a single character who communicates with you. Usually, he's looking for your help, and he'll guide you around, getting you to finish things he started and couldn't. The idea is that you have different tasks, split up, cover each other, etc. There's Gun Game, where you for every kill get the next, yeah. Starting with the pistols. And once you reach the top one, you've won. And since they're not equally easy to make things dead with, it changes how you go about it. Very addictive. It's also the only way to have AI allies, since otherwise, offline solo play is, well, just that. Only you. All by yourself.

The 6 of you will have 7 Perks to choose from. Each player takes on the responsibility of theirs, and you will have to eliminate one of them. They cover the different ways to play this well. Rising through the levels will require grinding. Do a certain action 30 times. Then 100. This will make some quit. I know it's because there are less than 10 to climb. RPGs tend to fare better when it's a gradual thing. And when you get things along the way. You don't "get anything" here. It refines the skills associated, that's all. Releasing a polished UT2K04 mod 2 years after Unreal Engine 3 came out meant this would immediately be dated. Saving on the licensing fee is all well and good, but graphics do matter to a lot, including the target audience of this. The sound effects can be pretty meh. If you find this gets repetitive, that is not going to change. It can seem to lack variety. Not for everyone. There are quite a few servers, and with filters, you'll have an easy time zeroing in on one.

There is constant brutal, gory violence in this. I recommend this to any fan of the classic id Software titles. 6/10

Beyond Good & Evil (2003) (VG)
Somewhere in the middle, 27 May 2016

The year is 2435. Not Earth. The planet Hillys. The peaceful population is under sustained attack by the alien Domz. Forcefields help, although only if you can pay your bill on time. The Alpha Section troops are always showing up too late. The media claim otherwise, asking the pertinent question: what do you do when faced with authorities who let awful things happen, when reporters refuse to spread that fact, and physical harm coming to you and your loved ones? There is a conspiracy going on, and you have to uncover it. As a photographer, you will document it. You're not Rambo, setting explosives and destroying entire bases. You're Jade(Forrest, determined). And you'll be sneaking in, snapping shots, and let the people know what's going on. Admittedly, the more you understand what's going on, the less sense it makes, and the ending is a clichéd, twist-laden mess. Still, there is some good drama there. This does realize that kids can handle that, and scary material, as well. Some will find it too child-friendly. It helps that there's so much substance here.

You almost always work with a companion. Cooperation and friendship are among the values this promotes. You can go places they can't and vice versa. The reasonable puzzles require you to work together – you won't get far without utilizing each others considerable talents. I do wish that there wasn't a pause between you telling them to help and them doing so. It can mess up the timing, when, really, this is something that could have easily been avoided. In addition, you gain the ability to throw discs great distances, and this can be used as an attack whether your presence is known or not, and activate those of the countless switches that are far off. You'll take pictures of all animal life. Including, if you have nerves of steel, those about to smack you with something. Every species once, and you'll be paid well. The rarer, the better. As long as they're of high quality: not too far away, etc. And it does aid you in ensuring that, telling you exactly what failed, and giving an indicator of when it's right, and when it's not, what's wrong about it. This includes the humanoid ones that you live among. You're encouraged to recognize that they look, sound and sometimes behave different from you, yet also that they're helpful, competent and, like you, they belong.

This mixes different types of addictive action-adventure gameplay well, each is fun, well-done, gradually increases in challenge and appropriate in amount. Don't get me wrong, the difficulty can be uneven, and spikes at bosses. The climax will seem impossible until you get the hang of it. While the accessible nature of this, and its easy-to-learn controls, do sometimes lead it to feel too simple, they make great use of all of these elements to keep throwing different situations at you that you can maneuver via your skills and tools. The minigames and racing can be annoying, yes. They can also be ignored, provided you do well enough elsewhere. The latter especially feels right out of a licensed title, much like the terrible third person camera. Ironically, when it locks your view and forces you to adapt the directional keys since they change with it, it's at its best. When you have to turn it yourself, it will try your patience. The platforming has you climbing and jumping ledges.

The stealth is line-of-sight based. You're waiting for soldiers to turn and/or move away, so you can pass unseen, behind them, blocking their view with crates on conveyor belts and the like. Them spotting you first due to poor design choices are the only real problem with this aspect. It's tremendously satisfying to clear an area, to finally be able to defeat the guards by breaking their air supply sending this previously very real threat pathetically floating off, etc. The only settings being factories and caves, particularly the former, do end up a tad boring. Some of these culminate in you running away, avoiding the dangers behind you, very thrilling.

Combat has been called the weakest element, pointing to how light it is. Hardly. I find the unreliable dodge function to be its biggest fault... not sending you in the right distance, direction, sometimes not launching you at all. It's a minimal version of that of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, based on the same engine. You'll be somersaulting between foes that are a bit apart from each other and you, can easily switch which one you're facing and hitting, and you have a radial charge. This is also where you not being alone, in this singleplayer piece, comes in very handy. With help, you can instakill, even using evil robots to disable electrical barriers in your path.

Your hovercraft will take you almost anywhere you can go in this, and when you've earned it, your interstellar spaceship will close that last gap. Fire at anything in front of you, either rapidly at the center of the screen, or hold down to automatically target. It does allow friendly fire, for some reason. And it tends to go for things that aren't close before the ones that are, which makes regenerating mine fields, further worsened by the seafaring vessels bouncy nature, an irritant. This can seem too open, given that the map does not list major areas of interest. You have to online for that, which shouldn't be necessary. Unfortunately you can't play on after completion, which would have fit the otherwise partial similarity to Grand Theft Auto, and given it replay value. Honestly, I do think I'll return to this. It took me 11 and a half hours, and I did not go for every collectible.

There is mild violence in this. I recommend it to any fan of the genres it covers, young and old alike. It will make you think, care, and it did not deserve to bomb. 6/10

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