Microsoft

Review: Mass Effect 3 - Something greater

This is the game Mass Effect fans have been waiting for. All of the time spent reading the codex and following Commander Shepard's story of the battle against the Reapers, comes to a close. What makes this trilogy different from others is the personal involvement each player has; the moral decisions they have made and the ramifications that follow. We carry over our story and character from game to game, to see how events correlate and if the decisions we have made led to the desired results. But for a new player, they don't have that connection and won't quite understand why Mass Effect 3 is such a big deal to fans. If you are part of that group that has no desire to play Mass Effect at all, there is nothing that the third instalment in the franchise will provide to change your mind.

Review: Batman: Arkham City - Gliding through the night

 

The problem with making a game so amazing the first time, is following up that game with an even better sequel. Room for improvement is small, forcing the developers to dig deep into their creative wells, to introduce new concepts or ideas to impress the players.

No one expected Batman: Arkham Asylum to be as well executed as it was; dismissing its existence was the common attitude towards it. Rocksteady delivered an experience so contrary to what we believed, pushing Batman to the forefront of quality video games in 2009. With our expectations now set high and our attention drawn in, it would be impossible for Batman: Arkham City to duplicate such a lofty achievement. Batman: Arkham City won’t wow its players like its predecessor, but the fluid melee combat and wide cast of stellar characters that populate Arkham City, are enough reasons to slip on the bat suit once more.

Review: Portal 2 - Head and stomach aches

Incredibly annoying and too frequently mentioned internet memes aside, Valve developed a game that will be remembered for its ability to amaze in a mere two short hours. Portal’s signature tool was unseen before, and the game’s structure of blending puzzle elements and an A.I with a spiteful sense of humor wasn’t something any ordinary studio could successfully execute. Portal was a great addition to the Orange Box, so it’s relatively short completion time was not a problem for me, only when it was considered by many as a contender, if not, the game of the year in 2007.

I wasn’t as infatuated with the game as others were; it was difficult to get excited about Portal 2 and its goal to release as a full retail product. I couldn’t imagine what else could be added to the room by room puzzle solving that had a gutless A.I. speaking to you along the way. Of course in typical tight lipped Valve fashion, there is so much more to Portal 2 than shooting blue and orange portals at walls. Portal 2 doesn’t remain in the confined spaces of the white colored test rooms, it lets you go beyond that and explore the grand world that you have only briefly heard of.

Review: Bastion - A story teller

The repetition of hearing the same noises and sounds, or walking through a similar looking environment killing the same enemies can be annoying to a point where it can eliminate any desire to continue forward. Bastion’s differentiating feature was the narrator, and to my initial understanding, he would describe every movement my character made. I imagined the narrator spewing lines of worthless dialog like “He swung his hammer, hit the enemy hard, and sent it back to where it came from. He continues walking and walking until he arrives at a door”. Looking back that may have been an exaggeration on my part; I couldn’t help but imagine that it wouldn’t be annoying when it was often described as “Someone narrates everything you do”. However, it’s a rather unfair representation as the narrator is more of a story teller sharing his grand story to whoever was listening. Bastion is not just a game with a narrator; it’s an experience that starts with a simple approach to combat, character progression and art style, and again ends with a simple yet self-reflecting story.      

Review: Dead Space 2 - Clean pants

Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge were part of EA’s new strategy to bring new IPs to the forefront, instead of just making numerous unwanted sequels to a lot of their tired franchises. Both were great games with new experiences or ideas, but Dead Space proved to be the most successful and well received amongst the two (I enjoyed Mirror’s Edge a lot more but that’s just me). It didn’t reinvent the story telling in video games, it provided a story with a beginning, middle and end, enough to give a justifiable reason to dismember Necromorphs and upgrade your equipment. But because Dead Space had a generally conclusive ending, the reveal of a sequel was as questionable as when BioShock 2 was first announced a few years ago. It was a complete experience with no game breaking glitches or ridiculous plot twist like your wife was your arm, it was – is good enough to be a standalone game. Visceral’s first attempt at making a survival-horror game was a very well executed one at that, so it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that Dead Space 2 isn’t a far departure from its predecessor, even if it could easily pass as an expansion pack.

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