Game Review Dorkdrive – Halloween Edition
This week we take a look at some of the games recently dropped in your local video game store and some of the upcoming games that you should definitely put on your buy list. Enjoy this shit.
Castlevania: Lords of Shadows (XBOX 360, PS3)
To all you old school gamers who think this is the next chapter in the ever popular Castlevania franchise, here is your warning… you’re wrong! This is essentially a kind of “re-imagining” of the Castlevania story in a new, 3D plane. Castlevania: LoS does not continue the popular lineage of the Belmont family battling the ever returning Lord Dracula and his minions, but they do keep some key elements that allow the game to continue to call itself Castlevania. The key part of any Castlevania game is the character you play, Gabriel Belmont.
Like I said, he is not a family member of the famous Belmont family but is actually an orphan of the “Brotherhood of Light.” As a child, he was left in the care of the Brotherhood and came to be called Gabriel after the famous angel. He eventually added Belmont, meaning “of the mountain”, to his last name, becoming the famous Belmont in Castlevania: LoS. The other part you cannot make a Castlevania game without is the chain whip, aka the Combat Cross. The third piece that allows LoS to call itself a Castlevania game are it’s cliche enemies. You battle all sorts of demons ranging from werewolves to vampires to skeletons and everything in between. These creatures have appeared in one Castlevania game or another throughout this franchises long career. The fourth and final important piece is the story. As usual Gabriel’s wife has been killed and he is seeking revenge against the demon that killed her and on his quest he learns of a way that could bring his dead wife back. This is almost a staple in most Castlevania games (except for many of the DS versions that I still find myself playing on the train).
The gameplay of this game is actually pretty fluid. If you have ever played “God of War” or “Dante’s Inferno” then you already familiar to this fighting style. You use your main weapon to chain combos with direct or area based attacks sending enemies flying into the air or pound them to the ground, all while causing crazy amounts of damage to the environment. Some of the new features to this franchise also certainly add a new depth to the gameplay. The new event timing system is a cool idea where you do a particular action by pressing a button during a sequence similar to Bayonetta. The problem is that they give you too much time to hit any button which takes away most of the excitement. It’s like “oh cool, I’m going to kill this werewolf by ripping its head off, but let me go to the bathroom, grab another Red Bull, and go Vote because I have a long freakin’ time before I have to press anything.”
The other new part of this game is the graphics and the voice acting. It simply looks beautiful, especially the night scenes. The weather effects are wonderful eye-candy as well, such as the rain pouring down and seeing your character’s breath when it’s cold. The voice acting by people of the likes of Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star-Trek: TNG) and Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, 28 Weeks Later) certainly make you feel like you are in 11th century Europe. All this is wrapped up by Hideo Kojima, producer of the Metal Gear series, who tied everything together with a nice, neat, bow.
All in all, this is still a very good game and should be considered a buy, maybe not right now in the season of lots of games being shoved down our throats, but certainly after this holiday season.
8.5 Combat Crosses out of 10.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)
This new installment picks up shortly after the ending of the first Force Unleashed. (FU) Vader has lost Starkiller and the Rebel Alliance has been formed, so Vader heads to Kamino to create a clone. Many clones that have been created, go mad, and are then destroyed… except one. You play as Starkiller’s clone and due to the rapid growth procedure, you still have many of the former Starkiller’s memories pumping through your head. As you go mad during your first training you have a memory flash of Vader betraying you. At that point you hightail it out of there before he can do so again.
Because you are a clone of the old Starkiller you remember many of your old powers. All the best moves like force lightning, saber throw, and force push return and are even better than before. The fighting system has improved and the new control you have over objects allows you to use all of your force powers on an enemy before throwing them away like trash. Even with the new improvements, the targeting system still has a lot of issues. Many times you will try to grab something using the force and you’ll instead grab something else utterly wasting your time and some times killing you. The camera is pulled out a little further than it was in the first game which helps but at times you will still go bonkers when you are on the edge of the map or when you are trying to lock onto something with your force power.
Were you upset you couldn’t dual wield light sabers? Be sad no more! You can now possess two of your ever-loving enjoyment tools of destruction. Holocrons also return to assist you throughout your force wielding adventure. Other crazy tools such as the new Force Frenzy feature create an overwhelming sense of power. It essentially gives you the ok to go berserk with unlimited force energy to cause as much damage as you please. It’s fuckin’ awesome.
This game certainly is a step above the older FU1, but still needs some polishing. This is a must play, not necessarily a must have. Whether you buy it or rent in, definitely give it a shot. If you have not played the first one, go back and play that first, at least for the story so you don’t get lost in FUII.
7 dual wielding light sabers out of 10.
Vanquish (XBOX 360, PS3)
This title is a new game from long time fan favorite developer, Sega. They don’t always publish good games (:”cough”: Sonic : ”cough”) but every once in a while they get it right and Vanquish is it. Vanquish is set in the future.. Oooooo when the Earth is nearly out of all its resources. To solve the problem, the US creates a space station in which it harvests the sun’s energy, but a coup attacks the station, and uses the energy to attack a major US city. (Ok… so maybe this plot isn’t that much different than most Hollywood “Bay-Busters” or something you could find in a Tom Clancy novel, but the futuristic feel certainly is a nice gimmick.) So as you can probably guess, the US sends a Special Forces team to deal with the problem. Sam Gideon, the main character, is in a state of the art Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS) and his abilities give way for some interesting gameplay.
If you have played any of the Gears of War games then the shooting style and gameplay in Vanquish are certainly familiar to you. It’s a third person shooter that’s fast paced and intense. Unfortunately there isn’t a sweet chainsaw melee like in Gears, but can still beat them into the ground with your fists. Weapons range from a shotgun to a mini-gun with a choice of grenades, but what sets this game apart from Gear’s are the “features” included in the ARS.
The suit contains boosters in the legs and arms allowing you to boost from one cover to the other or boost towards an enemy and close the gap quickly so that you can finish them off with melee hits. The boost certainly comes in handy in boss battles where it grants you the option to evade missile attacks and laser blasts the moment before they hit you. The ARS system also reads all the information that is laying on the battlefield. Literally, if there is a new weapon/upgrade or ammo on the ground it will point it out and show you what it’s for. Definitely a much needed plus to this game since it is so fast paced. One of the coolest parts about this game is the “bullet time” sequences that happen when you have taken too much damage. If you’ve taken too much damage after a huge blast from a boss, you will enter “bullet time” where the game slows down, giving you the option to either start dodging attacks or boost to cover, cover meaning pretty much anything on the map.
This game is definitely much needed at a time that’s overburdened with veteran games to be released like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. Vanquish may not get the numbers that both CoD and AC may get but it will certainly leave its mark.
8 Augmented Reaction Suits out of 10
NBA 2K11 (XBOX 360, PS3, PC, PSP, Wii)
For all you sport fans out there, don’t worry, I didn’t leave you hanging. The just released NBA 2K11 is the latest installment in a line of great basketball games. Currently, it’s the only new basketball game out seeing how NBA Elite 11 (formerly NBA Live 11) is not set to release for another few months. NBA 2K11 certainly has quite a head start over its long time adversary. For those of you planning on getting into sports games, this may be a good place to start. If you are into basketball at all you’ll feel very comfortable with this game. There is a bit of a learning curve if you haven’t played for a while, or at all, but the button configuration will grow on you. After a few tries you’ll start to get the hang of it. One time setting up a pick for myself I was able to drain a three pointer over giant Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics, who doesn’t want to do that?
This game is certainly a fun game to pick up for any casual sports game player. Once you’ve played around with this game for some time you can go ahead and test your skills in the “Jordan Challenges.” These challenges are designed to recreate great games during Jordan’s career with the Bulls like scoring over 50 points in a game or getting a triple double (which means scoring in the double digits, double digit assists, and double digit rebounds). This is definitely meant to test your mettle.
Even if you don’t like sports games, this is certainly an excellent gift to give to a sports game fan in the coming holiday season, or a good reason to start loving them
7.9999999 Jordan jerseys out of 10
Look ahead in the coming weeks for full reviews of games like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Call of Duty: Black Ops. Also be on the lookout for our Kinect vs Move article, just in time for the Holidays as well as our Holiday shopping guide. Don’t go video game hunting without it.