Tagged: video game review
Video Game Review – Strider (2014) (Version Reviewed: PS4)
Strider, the 2014 update of the established series of the same name, is a largely unremarkable and unpolished exploration platformer in the vein of Super Metroid. It has several strong features, but at the same time they feel underdeveloped and are rarely used in ways which innovate the genre. Its short length in terms of initial exploration means that the open-world exploration comes surprisingly quickly, but by the same token it comes before the player has really had much opportunity to use or master any of their newly-acquired abilities. This is in part due to the reliance on long chases and linear level design; the progression of the story drives the player through numerous areas without much opportunity to explore. Rather than acquiring an item and then returning through the area to use it, often the game will throw the player into a new area they may only visit a small part of with their current suite of upgrades immediately after making a first trip through one.
The Christmas Blog Series 2 (X) – Video Game Review: Bravely Default (Version Reviewed – 3DS)
Although Bravely Default only ranked No.9 in my Top 15 games of 2013, it remains probably the best JRPG released on consoles this year thanks in no small part to its high level of challenge and in-depth mechanics.
Bravely Default’s story is presented simply and in the vein of the early Final Fantasy games it resembles; while the core console Final Fantasy series has moved beyond the traditional turn-based, four-person-party system in many ways (games like Final Fantasy X/X-2 are probably the most similar from the recent generation, but themselves added certain modifications to the system), Bravely Default places itself firmly within the 16-bit era of RPGs much like Xbox 360 hit Lost Odyssey did. It has a straightforward turn-based combat system based around speed stats, multiple hits per weapon and a granularity between attack speed and damage much like Final Fantasy III did on the NES, and a job system with upgradeable character roles and customisable abilities taken straight from Final Fantasy V).
Video Game Review – Resogun (Version Reviewed: PS4)
Geometry Wars was one of the most notable of the retro-arcade revival titles of its time, a simple return to the twin-stick arcade shooter genre that made the most of the technical achievements of modern consoles and computers graphically. Resogun, one of the PS4’s launch titles and a free title on PS+, offers much the same experience; it is an appealing recreation of an arcade classic utilising the technology of a new console generation effectively. At its core, Resogun is a remake of the classic Defender, a horizontally-scrolling arcade shooter from 1980; the same core mechanics of a large screen area populated by waves of enemies and humans to rescue feature, albeit with a number of scoring and mechanical improvements reflecting how the arcade shooter has developed over time.
Video Game Review – Battlefield 4 Multiplayer Component (Version Reviewed: PS3)
The multiplayer component of Battlefield 4 is in many ways the natural endpoint of the steady increase in scale seen from the Bad Company games through Battlefield 3 – the maps are now immense yet populated, with far fewer massive grasslands or deserts to race across dully, the vehicles finally fully encompass the branches of the armed services in more detail, with motor-torpedo boats finally allowing proper naval battles within the confines of a FPS, and there is finally a fully functional commander mode, with UAVs and gunships and all the other paraphenalia of technologically advanced war. Yet the whole affair does not have the same buzz of excitement about it that past games brought – in its ambition, it loses some of the simplicity that made Bad Company 2 so compelling.
Video Game Review – Football Manager 2014 (Version Reviewed: PC)
Trying to explain the appeal of Football Manager to a non-fan – especially a non-football fan – seems impossible. It is a visually dry, time-consuming game not far removed from a full-time office job. Yet actually playing it reveals a game which perhaps more than any gives credence to the idea that a sandbox game can create its own narratives. The progress of favourite teams at the hands of the player is as much a story emerging from the interaction of random numbers and player control as any multi-car pileup in Grand Theft Auto, or exciting shootout in Far Cry 3.
Video Game Review: Persona 4 Arena (Version Reviewed – PS3)
The most important feature of a fighting game, in contrast with many other games, is how methodical and accessible its tutorial is. In the fighting genre, more so than any other, there is a mixture of subtly different mechanics which set a game apart from competitors, and complex fundamentals of the genre which need to be mastered. Understanding these skills – and understanding what genre knowledge is transferrable between games – is a vital prerequisite of play and so a comprehensive tutorial explaining both basic knowledge and advanced nuances of a specific game is a key feature of a well-designed fighting game.
Video Game Review: Sniper 2 Ghost Warrior (Version Reviewed – XBOX 360)
The sniper level in Call of Duty Modern Warfare was considered one of the game’s highest points; its combination of stealth with setpieces – despite being a highly curated experience – was a tense kind of mission in a game that was rapidly redefining what a cinematic FPS could do in its use of curated setpieces. Sniper 2 is a game formed entirely of these moments – mixtures of tense marksmanship and frantic action in the aftermath. It is a game which, rather than offering vast selections of experiences in a kind of action buffet, focuses on making one single one – sniping – as seemingly realistic and simulationary as possible. Finding the midpoint between simulation and accessibility in a game like this is crucial, and Sniper 2 succeeds only in part.