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Best Horror Game Since Resident Evil 4
The Silent Hill franchise has gathered a cult following over the last decade from the series take on psychological and survival horror games, the newer instalments have been meet with oh hum reviews. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the first instalment of the Silent Hill franchise on a Nintendo console and a re-imagining of the first game in the series. This being my only gaming experience with the franchise (I have seen the movie, one of my favourite video game based movies), Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the best horror game I've played since Resident Evil 4. During the game there's 2 different perspectives: the first is a psychological therapy session with a pretty blunt psychologist which has you fill out a few.. tests. The other part of the game has you in control of Harry Mason who wakes up from a car crash and is searching for his daughter during a cold winter's night in Silent Hill. Harry's mission takes him all over the town while the tests from the therapy session alter the town in slight ways. The therapy sessions are short, so you spend most of your time as Harry. Shattered Memories plays a lot like an adventure game (such as Hotel Dusk or Myst), you go around the town and search for keys when you hit a locked door. Thankfully the keys are never far to find, no expansive backtracking like in Metroid games. During times in the game the world shifts from normal to a frozen nightmare with creatures that look like meat skeletons that will chase you down. Harry's only option is to run and this creates some of the most intense chases I've played in recent times. Climax Studios, developer of the game, clearly made this game for the Wii. While a PS2 and PSP version are available the Wii version seems to be tailored made for the flash light controls. Controls in general are extremely well done. Climax clearly learnt a lot from their previous Wii title Overlord: Dark Legend and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories controls better, looks better and sounds better. That being said, the game has a few faults to it. The game is very liner, only one way to go. During the chase sequences you will end up running in circles a couple of times because it's too dangerous to stop, whip out your in game phone and check the map to see the next goal. Minor really, but the game does an amazing job at crafting a wonderful and creepy experience and will have you excited all the way to the end credits when your psychological evaluation is given..
Epic Mickey (2010)
Warren Spector's First Platformer.. Experience Needed..
Epic Mickey takes one of the world's most beloved mascots and places him in a strange decayed and ruined world he help destroy and create. Mickey travels around a magical kingdom of forgotten and lost characters and hopes to right his wrongs and escape the ruined world. With the magical paint brush Mickey is able to create and destroy with paint and thinner. All of that sounds wonderful on paper.. but the final product is far from wonderful. The game is directed by Warren Spector, the man behind Deus Ex, and a few Ultima games. While I have yet to experience them I don't know much about his previous works, but it one can see that this is his first platformer he's worked on. While the world of the Wasteland is quite interesting with places like Mickeyjunk Mountain standing out, you feel that the team didn't know how to approach the platforming sections of the game. There's 2D and 3D sections to the game. The short 2D sections prove to be tedious, repeative and uninspired platforming while the 3D sections get screwed by a horrible camera which fails to follow you properly and won't shift. I fell plenty of times because of the faulty camera. The music feels full and orchestral but there's no stand out tracks ,besides the warped 2D section music. The game promises a moral choice system, you can be evil and erase the baddies and not help people or help people and convert the baddies to goodies. Overall.. it doesn't matter the main ending is still the same. I was kind of expecting Mickey to merge with the big bad of the game and become the evil menace to the Wastleland and rule it with an iron fist., or something a bit darker then the same happy ending that happens. Overall, Epic Mickey is an interesting adventure full of neat little tidbits from Disney's past. But .. it is held back by a poor camera and poor level design
Red Steel 2 (2010)
Wild West Samuari Ninja Cyberpunk
Red Steel 2, a game which is a sequel only in name to one of the first Wii shooters which got 'meh' reviews. I only briefly played the multiplayer of the first one, so it doesn't really count. Red Steel 2 is a game that feels like it benefited from a longer development cycle. The game has style. No doubts about that. It takes some wild west, mixes it with ninjas, samurai and Japanese lore and throws some steam and cyberpunk in. Story is pretty basic, but there's no complaints about it. You're the last of your kind, learn the secrets of your clanand go for revenge!
The story severs as a backbone to take you to different locations, which sadly don't quite leave the Wild West/Japanese style. There's no radical winter level or evergreen forest level. Game play wise Red Steel 2 is the best sword fighter game on the market. The game also has a wonderful shooting aspect to it and the sword and gun play flow seamlessly together. The game feels like it was heavily inspired by Metroid Prime, especially the last chapter 3: Corruption with it's shooting and some puzzles. While Prime 3 had a lot more variety of puzzles Red Steel 2 does a good job of taking hints on how to make FPS or FPA work on the Nintendo Wii. Red Steel 2 also takes the loading doors from the Prime series as well, but whatever, it works. The game does have a few weak points, some of the missions feel very similar in style. It's usually Get To Point A, but you have to go to Point B and unlock/cut/something to there first. While on the way be on the look out for safes to crack, wanted posters to destroy and random encounters. The game also has several hidden tokens to find and shoot, but doesn't tell you how many there are. There's also no New Game + option where you could start again with all your upgrades, thus making money hunting in the last level completely useless because there's no shops at all. The game also gives you a list of all the moves you've learnt.. but doesn't tell you how to pull them off or gives you a place to practice them. The dojo would have been perfect for this. Overall with an additional 3 weeks (or less!) of development to put those last couple of complaints could have made this game a solid A, but as it is, it's still a solid B, lots of fun, great use of the motion controls and style.
Dragon Quest in the future! Without Spikey Hair
Imagine a game developed by the makers of the Dragon Quest series.. set in outer space and the lead characters don't have spiky hair. Welcome to Opoona, a Japanese RPG for the Nintendo Wii. Opoona, much like many JPG starts out with Opoona (the main character , the chubby bald headed kid with the orange ball on top of his head) sleeping in. He wakes up, his ship gets attacked and gets separated from his family and has to find them on the alien planet known as Landroll. Landroll, according to lore was hit by a meteorite awhile back and now the planet is split in half, a inhabitable side and a dark side. The game takes a few cues from the Metroid Prime franchise with this plot device, but never gets very far with it. Sadly with no voice acting and only ONE CGI cut scene the story is made out through dialogue boxes, long boring ones if that. And it's sad to say that Opoona did not get the best translation job out there. Things may have been taken too literal and sometimes leaves players wondering where to go and what to do? But then again the first dome (city) Tokione is such a mess of a design that it's easy to get frustrated trying to find a certain shop or even the exits! Whoever designed that city needs to be kicked in the balls, repeatedly. Thankfully the city designs are much more functional once you get to the next domes. While getting frustrated with the city lay out and how the 'life style' part of this 'life style RPG' game works made me wonder about it even further. The game allows you to get jobs and make friends. In fact if you want to get outside of the first city you have to find a teacher to allow you to get a lice sense to be a Ranger, go the Admin office, get a license, then exit the building. If you want to upgrade your hover board transportation you get, you have to work fast food and get a mining license, then you can go face the second boss. At times I think the game is commenting on the bureaucracy of other games with job systems or society itself. But much like other JPGs and their ham fisted environmental message it comes off as annoying and leaves the player frustrated, especially when you have to do multiple 'side quests' just so you can reach the final boss's lair. But let's talk about some more positive aspects of the game. The graphics and look of the game fit very well. Some of the domes look beautiful and have a real theme to them. Sometimes I wonder if the art team got their way on everything. The game heavily features variety of art work on display from paintings to sculptures to new age installation pieces. The character designs of the main characters work well, the cell shaded visuals of the characters make them look more childish and innocent. Some of the other characters are so oddly designed you wonder what kind of sick plastic surgeon the world of Landroll has, some women have beaks! Later in the game you come across some giants in an ancient forest, you'd swear they were created by a guy who just got his 3D modelling program the week before. Once you get out of the domes you can see some wonderful photo like sky boxes, which kind of clash with the cell shaded main characters. The music of the game offers some short tunes, no 5 minute epics here. Most are over and done and repeating within a minute and a half, which isn't bad for some songs like the third battle theme or the final baddie lair music. But some of the cities have quite annoying songs to them (Bravo Company!). The box of the game says it's one handed controls, only using the Nunchuck controller to do everything. I tried that, then picked up the Wii-Mote after 10 minutes and didn't put the Wii-Mote. It also supports the Classic Controller, didn't play with that. The controls work well. 'A' To action things, 'B' to cancel things, etc, etc. In battle it's push the analog stick back, forward or sideways to direct your balls in battle and attack. Sure there's magical abilities which speak of angles and such (but never given any insight into how these abilities come to be, could be called Healing Spell 1, 2, 3 really.) As you progress through the game you'll find more and more attachments to your ball and gives your characters a bit more flare. In the end you control 4 people over all. Only 3 at a time. The 4th is only momentarily during a part during the story. The three, Opoona, Copoona and Poleena have slightly different abilities. Copoona is more of a magic user, Opoona is the muscle and Poleena is the middle ground. But there isn't much difference between the three.
If you can make it to the second dome (Life Born) then you're going to be in for an RPG that will last 25- 40 hours, depending on your play style. The game has an odd quirky and cute charm that people have compared to the Super Nintendo cult classic Earthbound. I haven't played Earthbound yet, but Opoona has cult classic written all over it. Pick it up, give it a shot. It's most likely in a discount bin somewhere wanting you to play with its balls.
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is very much a fan service game. It was made with fans of the GameCube/Playstation 2 game in mind. The game only gives you two new playable characters and a handful of new characters in the world while you revisit old locations with new paint jobs. Most of the music is carried over as well. That being said, the game does a good job at creating a new conflict that drags everyone into it. The Norse background greatly influences the game's story. The game has a very slow start as you play as Emil, a whiney annoying child who suddenly grows a pair while he's in battle and in his "Ratatosk Mode", you almost wish that this mode continues for the rest of the game. But if you played the original and can suffer a bit of annoying voice acting then you'll be able to enjoy the game.
Super Paper Mario (2007)
From Flopside to Flipside
The Paper Mario series by Intelligent Systems is a series of games dating back to the N64, Intelligent Systems took the reins of the Mario RPG series after Square made Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, the games have always had colorful characters, interesting locations and worlds and witty writing. Super Paper Mario takes away the turn base format from previous titles for more of a plate former feel and action while still keeping the health and moves. While the new take on the series does feel fresh, the way the abilities and character switching completely wrenches the experience. To have to change from one character who can bomb to one that can hammer just gets annoying after a short time. At times it felt that the game was rushed, and rushed bad. The entire use of the mirror town of Flopside is completely under used and felt like a last second addition. In fact, this game lacks a lot of polish the previous games of the series had. Sure the other ones had a few slow chapters, but this one really gets to you. If you can trudge along then you'll enjoy it, if not then you'll be annoyed out of playing this game.
First person shooter role playing game.. for the win?
Dragon Quest Swords is a combination of RPG and First Person Light Gun Shooter. As bizarre as that sounds it actually works to some degree. The RPG aspect is pretty simple. You buy your weapons and armor, you level up by beating monsters, buy potions, etc. The light gun shooter aspect of the game is you select where you aim your sword and slash away at the evil dudes. Sadly putting the two together means they both must suffer. The RPG aspect feels extremely light and the story feels clichéd, there's only a handful of levels to go to and there's no real power ups you expect from a light gun shooter. But the game does manage to make do with what it has and if you can get pass the awkward control scheme at the beginning (D pad to move in a 3D space?!) then you should be fine. If you want a light RPG that will keep you moving, try this one. It should be in the bargain bins everywhere by now..
Saiba shiti oedo 808 (1990)
A Good Start, could go on forever... but..
The series is about 3 cons who are working as cops to stop criminals in cases normal cops don't usually take to lower their prison sentence. The main character is in for 370 years.
All 3 episodes in the movie have a strong sci-fi and almost X-Files feel to them. The X-Files piece pushed to an extreme. A little bit of detective work, connecting the dots and action.
The series if full of some pretty colorful characters, but it lacked a main focus. It follows the 3 former cons as they hunt down baddies... but there's no main baddie. No big boss or organization. Maybe one would have come into focus in the later episodes if they made more, but no big baddie.
So it was short, sweet and worth the $4.99 in the discount bin.
Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion (2000)
The Groundwork for One of the Greatest Games of All Time
Turok 3: Shadows of Oblivion is my favorite of all the Turok games (thus far). The third one continues to build up from the previous two.
The first one, Turok Dinosaur Hunter, had very little story, very blocky models, tons of fog, horrid controls, but good ideas.
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil fixed the control problems (better jumping), gave a story with some simple cut scenes, had great graphics and sound, added multiplayer and more. Really suffered because it came out the same time as The Legend of Zelda: Orcania of Time.
Turok Rage Wars brought a new flavor to the table and was a fun game.
But 3 is where it all came together. Now we get a full story with dramatic cut scenes and twists, we get less fog, but a bit of a step back from 2, we get a different story and gameplay experience depending on who we choose and we get more multiplayer. The sound is very moody much like the other Turok games and sound effects (done by a vegetarian, no meats used) sound gooey and I still get chills hear the raptor's calls. And this game has voices in the cutscenes!
Admittedly, the Raptors in 2 are sooooooo much cooler then 3's, but 3's more linear level design is much more convenient then 1 or 2's. In 3 you get a clear idea where you're going and why instead of jumping into random portals. The flow of Turok 3 is easily comparable to Metroid Prime for the GameCube, where some of the team who worked on Turok 3 went after Acclaim went belly up. Who knows, maybe Turok 4 could have been Metroid Prime.
Gameplay: 8/10 - An improvement over 2. Graphics 8/10 - Nice and moody looking environments, little blocky. Sound: 9/10 - Chilling and moody. Controls: 8/10 - No action button because everything is done for you! Multiplayer: 7/10 - Not really a party game, but still fun. Raptors only monkey tag battles are fun! Replay: 8/10 - 2 story lines and multiplayer will have you coming back.
Overall: 8.5/10 - Rounded up 9/10.
If you liked this game then you'll love Metroid Prime.
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Stereotypes, famous lines and HollyWeird!
Sunset Boulevard (1950) Hollywood is the land of dreams, fame, money, and broken hearts. "Sunset Boulevard" is an almost behind the scenes look at the industry and the type of people in it. Sunset Boulevard is a real road that runs through Los Angeles and Beverly Hills and features real Hollywood landmarks like the movie Mulholland Drive.
"Sunset Boulevard" opens with a murder scene, murder is always a hot subject in Hollywood, especially if it was someone famous or in the industry, such as Elizabeth Short, an inspiring actress became California's most infamous murder victim in 1947 because of the mystery behind her death and that she was actress and actor River's Phoenix who died from a drug overdose on the actual Sunset Boulevard, outside of the Viper Room. The movie also features a starving struggling writer and his experience with his rotten agent and the movie producer who wants to change his script. There's also the loyal butler, the fresh newbies to the scene writer and the party guy film crew worker. All of these stereotypes work very well to help create the world of Hollywood. They were made so stereotypical to the point of parody to show how crazy it can be to live in Hollywood, or as some people call it, HollyWeird! The bizarreness doesn't stop there, pet monkeys, Directors marring the stars, becoming their butlers, and super ego complexes.
At the center of the film is Norman Desmond, as played by Gloria Swanson. Gloria Swanson wasn't by far the first person considered for the film, she wasn't even the sixth. But Gloria Swanson delivers one of the most memorable roles of all time with some of the most famous lines of movie history. Norman Desmond is a former silent movie star the world has seemed to forgotten, living in a huge run down mansion with a faithful butler. With a larger then life ego and in deep denial of her stardom, Norma is a diva that demands a lot of attention and often acts like the world revolves around her. Norma is writing a script when Joe first meets her and after reading it and hearing that it was written from the heart Joe says that it's the best kind of writing, but the script is heavily flawed. Norma longs to return to the limelight, she's had a taste of it and wants it back. She's also looking for someone to love and keep her company. When Joe arrives that fateful day Norma finds a gentleman who could help her with her script, but the relationship slowly grows and changes until Joe has become Norma's show boy. Joe doesn't really like being kept, but soon learns to live with it and enjoy the loveless relationship, well loveless to him. With Joe around Norma becomes more outgoing and ventures outside of her estate and sees more old friends. Much like Norma, Joe's taste of the limelight remains and he also gets caught up back in the industry and starts to enjoy writing once again.
Casting is extremely well done for "Sunset Boulevard", it casts a former silent movie star Gloria Swanson who fit the role perfectly, to getting cameo appearances from other silent movie era stars. The casting adds to the world of Hollywood and makes it feel real with a real director playing himself (Cecil B. DeMille) and a director(Erich von Stroheim) playing the butler.
"Sunset Boulevard" contains everything Hollywood has: romance, power, money, deceit, actors, actresses, new comers, writers, directors, murder, a come back attempt, a studio and scandal.