RESOGUN Review

resogun

Hey guys and gals! I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas! I’ve played quite a bit of RESOGUN over the past year and feel like I’m at the point where I can now review it. RESOGUN is a fast paced, voxel-based (Yeah, I had to look this one up!) arcade style, side-scrolling shooter that was a launch title for the Playstation 4. It is developed by Housemarque and is published by Sony Computer Entertainment exclusively for Playstation. According to some of the definitions I found online, “A voxel represents a value on a regular grid in three-dimensional space. Voxel is a combination of ‘volume’ and ‘pixel’ where pixel is a combination of ‘picture’ and ‘element’. As with pixels in a bitmap, voxels themselves do not typically have their position (their coordinates) explicitly encoded along with their values. Instead, the position of a voxel is inferred based upon its position relative to other voxels (i.e., its position in the data structure that makes up a single volumetric image)”. So basically for RESOGUN, the game is rendered to a three dimensional space to side-scroll while you play on a cylindrical coordinate. Science!

RESOGUN is graphically beautiful and has some of the best in-game music I’ve heard for a video game. The music fits quite well because it has fast-paced tones and sounds, just like the gameplay being fast. The game is heavily influenced by the arcade games Defender and Datastorm, which were released in 1981 and 1989 respectively. Earlier this year, the game’s first DLC was released and is known as RESOGUN: Heroes. Heroes features a new game world, two new game modes, and new trophies to collect.

Setting

In RESOGUN, players take control of space ships to battle enemies and must rescue trapped humans in side-scrolling worlds. Enemies spawn in waves, or as known in the game, in phases. At the end of the final phase on each cylindrical, side-scrolling world, a boss spawns for the player to fight. The worlds or levels in the game are known as Acis, Ceres, Decima, Febris, and Mefitis. The world in RESOGUN: Heroes is known as Avernus.

Gameplay

The gameplay is quite fast-paced and could be rage inducing. I would say that a casual gamer might be able to pick this game up and play with no issue, but that might end when they get to the second world (depending on the difficulty). RESOGUN is a pretty challenging game! Once all of the players’ lives are gone, the player must restart from the beginning – there are no checkpoints. Players must destroy all enemies and the final boss on each game world to achieve victory. In order to gain more points, players can pick up and save the humans when they are released from their prisons. The player has the option to choose one of the three ships available to battle the enemy before each world begins. These three ships are called Nemesis, Ferox, and Phobos. Upgrades and powerups are available for the player’s ship as the game progresses for each world.

The two game modes in RESOGUN are Single Level and Arcade. In Single Level mode, the player selects one world and attempts to complete that level for one high score. In Arcade Mode, the player continues to the next world after each successful completion. The game’s difficulties are Rookie, Experienced, Veteran, Master, and Hero. I had trouble even on the Experienced difficulty, as each world gets more challenging than the last. The Rookie difficulty is pretty hard at times and the player must be on guard and actively destroying targets.

The Presentation

Like I mentioned above, RESOGUN is graphically beautiful in its three dimensional cylindrical space. Also, each world has some pretty badass in-game music to keep you on the edge of your seat and to keep your blood pumping. The overall feel of the game is really nice because it plays like an old school, casual arcade game that you would of found back in the 1980’s. With that being said, the game is indeed quite challenging and might not be for everyone. Don’t let that discourage you though! Keep practicing on different difficulties and you will get better. Practice makes perfect right? Honestly, I would of liked to see more tutorials in game to help players.

The way that the game uses the Dualshock 4, the Playstation 4 controller, is also impressive for the Playstation exclusive. Sound is input through the controller itself during gameplay to help immerse the players through each world. You can hear the “world narrator” announce updates through the controller as you play to let you know if a human is being targeted or is lost. The narrator also indicates if your weapons have upgraded and/or if you have picked up any specials along the way.

Score

Overall, RESOGUN is a pretty fun side-scrolling arcade game with some impressive visuals. Depending on the difficulty, the game can get hard real fast for new players and can become tough to play through. Keep in mind – practice makes perfect, so stick with it! I give RESOGUN a 8.3/10, as it is a challenging but fun Playstation exclusive.

The next game I will review is:

wolfenstein-the-new-order

Wolfenstein: The New Order. It is an action-adventure first person shooter set in the Wolfenstein universe where the Nazis won World War II. The game is developed by MachineGames and is published by Bethesda Softworks (Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim). The campaign follows the protagonist William “B.J.” Blazkowicz in his fight against the Nazis in this alternate history. Wolfenstein: The New Order is the sequel to the 2009 video game Wolfenstein.

I hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year!! Until next game.

– John

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voxel

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Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode Two Review

bioshock infinite burial at sea episode 2

Hey guys! I’ve recently finished Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode Two and I wanted to give you my full review! First off, I was blown away again by the creative team at Irrational Games for making such a strong, rich, and beautiful entry in the Burial at Sea storyline. It really shows how much heart and soul they pour into these Bioshock games! The level of detail in the story, environments, and mechanics are extraordinary, which really pays off for the player. Spoiler Alert! In my review, I’ll talk about some important plot points that occur in this DLC. I know that quite a lot of people might have finished the Burial at Sea story, but just wanted to give a heads up to those who haven’t!

Still reading? Good!

Setting

Instead of playing as Booker DeWitt, Burial at Sea Episode Two puts the player in the role of Elizabeth. Elizabeth previously appeared in Burial at Sea Episode One and also in Bioshock Infinite. Players get to experience Elizabeth’s point of view of the underwater city of Rapture during the start of its fall. This is the beginning of the Rapture Civil War. This war was the most destructive conflict in the history of Rapture. The war mainly pit two superpowers against each other for power and control of Rapture. These two titans were Frank Fontaine (who is actually Atlas) and Andrew Ryan. Frank Fontaine is a criminal mastermind and the leader of the opposition in the power struggle, which essentially led to Rapture’s downfall. Andrew Ryan is the founder of Rapture and the owner of Ryan Industries. These two characters play a role in Burial at Sea Episode Two.

Elizabeth finds herself in a bright and cheerful 20th century Paris. As Elizabeth is walking down the streets of Paris, she spots Sally (the little girl who Booker DeWitt was tasked to find in Burial at Sea Episode One) and starts to run after her. As Elizabeth chases after Sally, Paris starts to become dark and creepy. She realizes that her memories of Comstock, Columbia, and Sally continue to haunt her. Elizabeth wakes up in a Toy Department shortly after the events of the previous Burial at Sea episode. Atlas (Frank Fontaine) and his men search for supplies and before he can shoot Elizabeth, she has a vision of Booker. Booker guides Elizabeth and has her convince Atlas that she can help him escape the sunken department store. In exchange for her help, Elizabeth wants Atlas to return Sally to her. Atlas agrees and leaves Elizabeth to explore the store.

The voice of Booker comes back in Elizabeth’s head and states that he is simply a part of her subconscious. Nonetheless, Booker helps guide Elizabeth through certain danger in the store and in certain mental situations. In her travels, Elizabeth discovers that she can use the Lutece Particle that kept Columbia afloat to lift the department store back to Rapture. She gathers the Particle by going through a Tear (a rip in dimensional time and space which reveals an alternate universe) and comes back. Once she returns, she comes face to face with Andrew Ryan through a video monitor. Andrew Ryan gives her a choice to either join him or die at the hands of his security. Elizabeth eventually escapes and uses the Lutece Particle to float the department store back to Rapture. As the building starts to rise, Atlas captures Elizabeth.

Atlas overdoses Elizabeth with a truth serum in order to discover the whereabouts of the “Ace in the Hole.” Elizabeth wakes up two weeks later with the Rapture Civil War well underway. Atlas threatens to torture her and Sally unless Elizabeth gives up where the “Ace in the Hole” is located. Elizabeth has a vision of one future she witnessed previously and tells Atlas she knows where the “Ace” is. Atlas holds Sally hostage until Elizabeth retrieves the “Ace in the Hole” for him. The “Ace in the Hole” turns out to be a simple piece of paper with the coded message: “Would You Kindly.” This is the sleeper trigger phrase for Jack, who is the main character in Bioshock, which is used to control him. Atlas begins to plan for Jack’s arrival to Rapture to kill Andrew Ryan. Seeing no use for Elizabeth anymore, Atlas fatally strikes her and leaves her with Sally. Sally begins to sing to Elizabeth to comfort her. As Elizabeth is dying, she realizes that Jack will actually break the circle of violence in Rapture. Elizabeth dies happily, knowing that matters in Rapture will be resolved. I was not ready for the feels at the end of the game! Below is a video of that beautiful scene with Sally and Elizabeth:

Gameplay

The gameplay is similar to Burial at Sea Episode One. Episode Two mostly features stealth-style gameplay as you take control of Elizabeth. This is a nice departure from the previous action driven Episode One. The player is now able to pick locks but cannot hold as much ammo as you could in Bioshock Infinite or Burial at Sea Episode One. Elizabeth can hide from her enemies and crouching makes it harder for enemies to spot her. Since the player is encouraged to use stealth tactics, it helps to take enemies out one by one or in small groups.

The Presentation

Once again, this episode uses the Unreal Engine 3 and the city of Rapture is re-built from scratch. Rapture looks beautiful as ever in Episode Two. Like I mentioned before, the level of detail that went in creating all the different assets for Rapture’s environments is really remarkable. I thought the execution of sequences from the beginning to the end of Episode Two were done very well. It seemed like every piece of dialogue that came from a character had meaning behind it, it wasn’t just used as a “filler” to take up time. The story was executed very well and it was cool seeing the Bioshock world come together. After you finish Episode Two, you can see how the Bioshock Infinite story links to the story in Bioshock. It finally all comes together and makes sense!

Score

I loved playing through Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode Two, seeing how it connected to the stories in Bioshock Infinite and also in Bioshock. This DLC delivers a great story through Elizabeth’s eyes. It took me about five and a half hours to complete. At the end of the game, my mind was just blown in what I experienced with Elizabeth. Bravo Irrational Games! It’s sad to see that this is Irrational Games’ last Bioshock game, but we will definitely see what the future holds for the Bioshock universe. I give Burial at Sea Episode Two a 9.5/10, as it ends the Bioshock Infinite storyline on a very powerful note.

The next game I will review is:

resogun

RESOGUN, which is an arcade style, side-scrolling shooter and is developed by Housemarque. It is published by Sony Computer Entertainment exclusively for the Playstation 4. Players battle enemies in side-scrolling worlds and must rescue trapped humans in fast-paced gameplay. I will have much more on RESOGUN and on the Playstation 4 in my next review. Have a great week everyone! Until next game.

– John

Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode One Review

bioshock-infinite-burial-at-sea-episode-1

Hey guys! I finished Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode One recently and I felt like it was pretty rich DLC (compared to some DLC’s out there) coming after Bioshock Infinite‘s story. I’ll have a full review of Burial at Sea Episode One below. For those of you who do not know, it is with a heavy heart that I must share the sad news of Irrational Games.

Irrational Games, who developed System Shock 2, Bioshock, Bioshock Infinite, and the Burial at Sea episodes, announced on February 18th that the company would be closing its doors. Co-Founder of Irrational, Ken Levine, stated that he has plans to start a “smaller, more entrepreneurial” project for Take-Two Interactive. Click here for an article Gamespot published when Irrational Games announced it would be shutting down. With this new “endeavor,” I’m sure Ken will continue to push creative content that we all know and love. I wish Ken all the success in the future with his new project. Click here for a message from the man himself, Ken Levine. Now, onto the review!

Setting

Just like in Bioshock Infinite, you play as Booker DeWitt. But instead of Columbia as a setting, the story takes place in the underwater city of Rapture right before its fall. You might remember Rapture if you have played Bioshock and Bioshock 2. Burial at Sea Episode One takes place one year before the events in Bioshock. Booker DeWitt is a well-known private investigator and lives out of his office in Rapture. A mysterious woman named Elizabeth comes to Booker on the eve of 1959 and asks him to investigate the disappearance of a young girl named Sally.

Elizabeth doesn’t reveal why she wants Booker to investigate Sally’s disappearance but mentions to Booker that she is alive. Listening to Booker and Elizabeth’s conversations about Sally indicate that Booker deeply cares for the little girl. As Elizabeth is about to leave Booker’s office, she mentions that the artist Sander Cohen might have information regarding Sally’s whereabouts. I won’t go into much more detail about the plot but this DLC does have some connections with Bioshock Infinite‘s story.

Gameplay

Gameplay is very similar to Bioshock Infinite but it does go back to the original Bioshock roots. Instead of having Vigors as powers, players will once again have Plasmids, multiple weapons, tears, and new gear to utilize throughout this episode. Unlike Infinite, the player can carry and swap all six weapons instead of just two at once. The first half of Episode One focuses mostly on the exploration of Rapture and the second half focuses on combat mechanics, which are very similar to the first Bioshock game. I liked how Episode One had scarce resources and forced the player to make decisions on where to go based on what they had in their inventory. Elizabeth still finds some supplies but the player must be conscious of what they use.

The Presentation

The Unreal Engine 3 is once again used (just like for Infinite) and this DLC features the city of Rapture rebuilt from scratch, using a very limited amount of assets from Bioshock. I thought this was very smart of Ken Levine and the team to do, so Rapture could look its best when played in the Unreal Engine 3. Rapture looked fantastic to play in and the visuals were very strong once again. Even with a lot of bleak colors in Rapture, there is a whole lot of character that comes out of the city. Cinematic sequences were done very well and the feeling of a creepy Rapture environment was definitely brought back. I particularly enjoyed the “boss battle” at the end of Episode One and how the final reveal sequence was handled.

Score

I really liked Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode One and how it connected to the story in Bioshock Infinite. This is a very strong story DLC and lasts for a good four to five hours. That is great content compared to some DLC that is put out there for games nowadays. I give Burial at Sea Episode One a 9/10, as the story was a strong addition to the narrative that Bioshock Infinite laid out. If you have Bioshock Infinite, you have to get Burial at Sea stat!

Can you guess what game I will review next?

bioshock infinite burial at sea episode 2

Of course I have to go in order! I cannot wait until Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode Two drops next month. It will be interesting to see what Episode Two has in store for finishing the Burial at Sea story. In the meantime, I think I will play a couple of games on my Steam list and play RESOGUN on my PS4. Have a great week everyone! Until next game (DLC).

– John

Dead Island: Riptide Review

Riptide

Hey guys! Well after 23 hours of gameplay, I have finally finished Dead Island: Riptide. It’s the review that you’ve been waiting for right? Yes, no, maybe so? Anyway, overall I felt Dead Island: Riptide was a decent hack and slash (and shoot!) game in a zombie apocalypse setting. With that being said, some story and gameplay elements seemed too repetitive or just got to the point of being flat out boring. More on that in a little bit.

Dead Island: Riptide, released last year by Techland and Deep Silver, is the sequel to 2011’s Dead Island, a first-person shooter action role-playing/survival horror game. Riptide continues the plot from the previous game, where “the five survivors arrive on another island in the Banoi archipelago, which has also been overrun by zombies.” I never fully completed the first Dead Island, but Riptide gets the player caught up pretty quick on the story early on in the game.

Setting

The game is set on the island of Palanai on the Banoi archipelago, infested with zombies and the remaining survivors striving to stay alive. In the very beginning, Riptide allows you to choose one of the five survivors to play for the duration of the game’s story. After you make a selection, the game starts by showing a helicopter landing on a military aircraft carrier. You quickly learn that your character and the other survivors are taken into custody by the Australian Defence Force. Colonel Sam Hardy, the leader of the Australian Defence Force, and Frank Serpo, a civilian VIP, intends to experiment and examine the five survivors. After being sedated for testing, the five survivors wake up in the brig to find the ship overrun by zombies. The survivors see Frank Serpo fleeing in a helicopter, before the ship loses control and crashes.

Parts and supplies of the ship as well as the survivors and Colonel Hardy wash up on the island of Palanai. Colonel Hardy finally tells the survivors that Frank Serpo’s organization intends to weaponize the infection that caused the zombie outbreak. Hardy also tells them that Serpo plans to launch a nuclear strike on Palanai, to purge the infection and also to cover up the evidence. Over the course of the game you work with the other survivors to move throughout the island of Palanai, seeking a way to create an antidote for the infection that has spread all over the island.

Gameplay

The game is presented in first-person and combines action, role-playing, and survival elements. The game uses an inventory system, so your character can only carry so much weapons and equipment at one time. The role-playing part of the game comes into play by having your character level up when you have enough experience and also spending skill points on skill trees. The skill trees offer offensive, defensive, and “super” skill sets for your character. The “super” skill tree is basically where you can beef up your character – for example, leveling up your stamina and also leveling up how powerful your melee attack is. Players can accept quests within the known survivor group and also from other survivors on the island. Players gain experience and skill points by finishing these quests and main quests for the main story.

Like I mentioned above, Riptide does a decent job for being a hack, slash, and shoot game. Players are able to pick up a plethora of weapons lying around on the island and can also upgrade them when they find a workbench. There are a whole bunch of one-handed weapons, two-handed weapons, throwing weapons, and guns. When the player uses a melee weapon for a long period of time, the weapon “breaks down” and forces the player to repair it. This keeps the player on edge and wary of what exactly they have used out of their inventory.

Survival is also the big theme in Dead Island: Riptide. While the game does a good job of nudging the player to go out and find supplies, I feel like some items respawn too quickly in areas. For example, I was able to farm an entire office area filled with supplies. After I left this area and explored another area for about five minutes, I came back to the same office and found all the items that I gathered previously were spawned back in. This definitely detracts from the “survival” element in the game and could make the game very easy.

The one thing that grinds my gears about this game are the quests themselves. All of the quests are supposed to carry the story forward and add excitement to the main story. Sure, in the beginning its fun to have some missions where you travel from point A to point B, hack and slash (or shoot) some zombies, complete your objectives, and return to your quest giver. But when you do that for the entire bloody game, the gameplay becomes a tedious and repetitive experience. Which is really sad, because all of these quests have potential to be really interesting.

Anyway, the other gripe I have are the actual quest givers themselves and the player’s lame responses to what the quest givers say. For example a survivor could be giving a mission to you, explaining a whole backstory for this particular mission in the most monotone sentences and phrases. And do you know what’s the worst about the tail end of this conversation? When you are given the option to “accept” or “decline” a quest. If you accept a mission, your character blurts out the most generic response ever saying: “Sure” or “I’m on it.” If you decline a mission, your character verbally declines in almost the same fashion saying: “Not right now.” Are you serious? After having a monotone survivor read out a very detailed mission for you, your character essentially does the same thing for a response? Shouldn’t the conversations be more lively and dramatic since its a damn zombie apocalypse after all? But I digress….

The Presentation

Dead Island: Riptide runs on the Chrome Engine 5, which is a proprietary game engine developed by Techland. The visuals in the game are definitely some of the things that the game’s got going for itself. The water effects are done really well and it’s always a fun time to kick some zombies in the water to hear them gurgle while sloshing around. The island of Palanai has adaptive weather, so at one moment you could be running through the grass during the day and suddenly the weather could change drastically to heavy rain. This makes it harder to see and makes the player more aware of their surroundings.

The environments on the island are crafted very well, as they offer lots and lots of details. If you enter a store, you can find shelves filled with bottles, cans, and a whole lot more items. Attacking the zombies also provide strong, awesome visuals. If you have a melee weapon equipped, you can behead a zombie or even cut off body parts on a zombie depending where you aim and attack. The blood squirting out of zombies is truly done in “zombie fashion.”

Score

Dead Island: Riptide was a fun, no-brainer (haha get it?) action survival game. Like I expressed above, for a time the game was enjoyable but ultimately I felt it was repetitive too quickly. I give Dead Island: Riptide a 5/10, as it is a fun, hack, slash, shoot RPG where you can roam an island killing zombies. But the gameplay is repetitive at times and there is not a whole lot of excitement in the main story. I feel like this game could have done a lot better if it had a solid story and more inventive quests.

The game (DLC in this case) I will review next is:

bioshock-infinite-burial-at-sea-episode-1

Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 1, brought to you by the same folks who worked on Bioshock Infinite – Irrational Games and 2K Games. Burial at Sea Episode 1 is “the first part of the story-driven downloadable content for Bioshock Infinite. This DLC puts players in the perspective of Booker DeWitt in a new story, taking place in the city of Rapture right before its fall.” I cannot wait to start playing Burial at Sea and re-visit the glorious city of Rapture, which is the underwater city from Bioshock and Bioshock 2. Have a great rest of the week everyone! Until next game.

– John

Updates!

Hey guys! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all! Wow, it’s been awhile since I have been on here. I’m still working on finishing Dead Island: Riptide (yeah, yeah I know) but I have been putting a lot of hours into it to see as much as possible before writing my review. Before Christmas, I picked up Killzone 3 (damn you retail sales!) for the PS3 and maybe I’ll do a review on that when it is finished.

I also got a Playstation 4 on launch day and have been loving that ever since! I have been playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and RESOGUN (both for PS4) on the side as well! And oh yes, a Steam Winter Sale happened so I have even more games on my “un-played” list. Speaking of Steam, Bioshock Infinite had its second DLC release, which is Burial at Sea Episode 1.

So as you can see, I have been keeping very busy between my jobs and playing all these lovely games! With that being said, I have a lot of content I want to talk about very soon! First, I’ll release my long awaited Dead Island: Riptide review and then start to play Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea. After that is completed, I will write my traditional review for the DLC and how it impacts the original game. Cannot wait to see what Burial at Sea has in store for players!

Then after that, I’ll talk about the Playstation 4 and the two launch games I have for it (Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and RESOGUN of course). I think that’s a good start to a busy schedule! I’m really excited to start talking about the next-gen console content and what the Playstation 4 and Xbox One have in store for players. I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year and I hope 2014 opens up endless opportunities for the game industry. Talk to you guys soon!

– John

sooncat

Tomb Raider (2013) Review

Tomb Raider 2013

Hey guys! I just finished Tomb Raider recently and will be giving a spoiler free review of the main story. I’ve played some of the multiplayer, but I feel the main draw for the game is its story. Tomb Raider (not to be confused with the 1996 title that was released by Eidos Interactive and Core Design) was released earlier this year by Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix, which follows the adventures of Lara Croft. For those unfamiliar with Lara Croft, think of her as an action hero like Nathan Drake or Indiana Jones. Fans would probably describe Lara more as a female “Indiana Jones” type character, since she too is an archaeologist.

This game serves as a reboot for the Tomb Raider series that reveals Lara Croft’s origins and builds her character development throughout. By the end of the game, players get to see a full transformation of Lara Croft where she starts off as a timid, innocent woman to a battle-hardened survivor.

Setting

The game is set on Yamatai, an Asian island from which Lara Croft must save her friends and escape, while being hunted by blood-thirsty island inhabitants. It starts with Lara setting out on her first expedition on the ship Endurance, with the intention of finding the lost kingdom of Yamatai. While traveling east of Japan, the ship is hit by a violent storm, leaving the survivors stranded on the island. Lara is separated from her friends and soon is forced to confront groups of the Solarii Brotherhood, a violent cult that worships the late queen and ruler of Yamatai, Himiko. Lara is forced out of her innocent comfort zone and must survive the island to save her friends.

Gameplay

The game is presented in the third-person perspective of Lara Croft that combines action, adventure, and survival elements. The player is able to freely aim his/her weapons and also use multiple weapons for different type of situations. As you progress in the game, you will come across checkpoints known as “camp sites,” where the game will be saved and you will have a chance to upgrade Lara’s skills, weapons, and equipment. The three different skill trees you will be able to upgrade are called “Survivor”, “Hunter”, and “Brawler.” Lara’s weapons will change as the player upgrades them, making them more efficient and deadly as the game goes on. In some areas of the game, the player has the choice of being stealthy or just going all out and shooting enemies.

The game also incorporates quick time events, in order for the player to feel the “rush” of survival and to think quickly. The game also features certain puzzles in the form of tombs to explore and story related instances that the player will have to overcome. Players have the option to just play the main story or play the main story and also explore more of the island and its hidden tombs. I think players definitely get more content and story out of playing both sides of the game since this reveals more of the island’s history and also uncovers some of Lara’s backstory as well.

On top of the main story and tombs, players will also be given sets of challenges to find and unlock in each of the levels they play to complete achievements. I really liked the rebooted story that was presented because it is a more “grounded” version of a Tomb Raider game, rather than the early over-the-top games. Tomb Raider has a whole bunch of content for players to uncover in the main story and also not to mention, a multiplayer mode.

The Presentation

Tomb Raider is run on a modified version of the Crystal Engine, created by Crystal Dynamics. The graphics presented in the game give the environments and the island itself “life” for Lara to combat and adapt from. I think the visuals in the game really do piece the whole rebooted feel together and are great ways to convey a fresh new setting in the Tomb Raider series. The graphics are really nice during gameplay and the cinematic sequences and everything modeled in the game is done with precise detail.

One of the things I like is that if Lara sustains an injury (minor cuts and clothes ripping) during a “guided sequence”, you will see that Lara has these cuts on her body and her clothes tattered as the game goes on. I think some games ignore these details, as well as movies. If something happens to a character, you should still see the result throughout the whole presentation right? For example, John McClane’s shirt is not bloody in the beginning of Die Hard, but when he starts to shoot and fight enemies, you can see “the change” on his clothes throughout the film. Stuff like that.

Score

I enjoyed playing this entry in the Tomb Raider series and think that this game offers a fresh perspective of Lara Croft and what could be coming her way next. I give Tomb Raider a 8.5/10, as it is an exciting, fun, imaginative, and much needed reboot for the Tomb Raider series by Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix. Lara Croft is one of the best female lead characters in fiction. Earlier this month, Square Enix confirmed that a sequel is being developed for next-gen consoles (and hopefully will also arrive on PC). Also, check out Conan O’Brien’s hilarious “Clueless Gamer” review of Tomb Raider below:

The Voters Have Spoken!

Based on what was voted in the poll, the next game I will review for you guys is:

Riptide

Dead Island: Riptide, released earlier this year by Techland and Deep Silver, is the sequel to Dead Island, a first-person action/survival horror game. Some people didn’t care for the game but I have decided to give it a chance and also since you guys voted for it for me to play! Much more will be coming about the game once I have finished it. Until next game.

– John

The Last of Us Review

the last of us promo

Hey guys! So now that I’ve had The Last of Us for a solid month, I can safely describe the game in two words. Simply amazing. I completed the story about a few weeks ago and have spent a lot of time with the multiplayer. One would think that the game is all about the story (from hearing countless reviews about just the story and/or promos), which in some respects it is, but The Last of Us is truly the “full package” game where a gamer can spend countless hours with it and not get bored. Remember from my last review where I mentioned that there are very few games that leave me speechless after a game is done? Well, The Last of Us is no exception and it did just that. I strongly believe that this entry from Naughty Dog is a huge step up from their previous three Uncharted titles and the development team deserves a job well done on such a great game. Warning: Possible spoilers ahead!

Setting

As many know, The Last of Us is set in a post-apocalyptic world where cities across the United States have been devastated by an “Infected” plague. You play as Joel, a man in his late 40’s to early 50’s who has seen death all around him for years because of the Infected breakout. He has become a hardened survivalist because of the situation around him, as well as many other survivors. The infection that was spread around the United States was cordyceps, which is a a genus of parasitic fungi. I’m glad that Naughty Dog gave the “Infected” some thought on a back story and not just write them off as zombies. I know there are many people out there who are a little tired of zombies.

Anywho, Joel fights to keep himself alive alongside his acquaintance Tess, as they are held up in Boston. In Boston, Joel keeps his distance from an anti-government faction called The Fireflies, as Joel’s brother Tommy leaves Joel a few years earlier to join them. Joel and Tess work as underground smugglers, scavenging whatever they can to help them survive. After their last smuggle, Joel and Tess kill an arms dealer who had sold their guns to the Fireflies. The Fireflies leader, Marlene, makes a deal with Joel and Tess that if they can transport something to a group of Fireflies at the Capitol Building, then they can have their weapons back and also be rewarded. I don’t want to reveal much more because this game is worth you playing and experiencing it for yourself!


Gameplay

Like the Uncharted series, The Last of Us plays a lot like watching a movie. You have times where you can be playing the game and your actions fluently transfer into a cinematic sequence that further immerses the player. You take control of Joel in the third-person view and the controls are straight forward; nothing overly complicated. It is truly a survival/action video game and you are able to use an “inventory” system due to carrying around a backpack. You can upgrade weapons, skills, and items throughout the game to help you fight through the Infected. One of things I love about the game is that in a survival setting, when you pick up a gun, you really have to think to yourself, “Ok, how many shots do I have with this and do I really need to use it right now?” Ammunition is scarce in the game (varies with all game difficulties) so you really need to use whatever you can find to defend yourself.

The story itself is excellent. There are definitely parts in the game that are not predictable at all, which is always something nice to us gamers. I won’t go into detail what happens after what I described above, but the story development team at Naughty Dog really did a great job. You will be thoroughly entertained in every moment. I completed the story in 18 hours (mind you, I explored just about everything and you should too) for just one difficulty. To get the platinum trophy, you will need to complete the game on all difficulties as well as all “plus” modes which are unlocked after you beat the game once. The multiplayer is also surprisingly excellent. The multiplayer itself is called “Factions” and the basic idea behind it is that you need to gather supplies to recruit more people to your clan/faction from week to week. If you do not gather enough supplies, some of your members could go hungry, become ill, or even die. You can link your Facebook profile to the game and that will populate your clan with your own Facebook friends’ names after you have gathered enough supplies needed to recruit for the given weeks.

The two game modes in Factions are called Supply Raid and Survivor. In Supply Raid, you have to gather parts and supplies as well as kill the enemy team. Respawns are allowed, but each team has a certain number of tickets. In Survivor, it is the same premise as Supply Raid but with no respawns. It is kind of like some of SOCOM‘s multiplayer with no respawns in a round. Overall, like I said, don’t worry….you will be entertained enough with the great story and Factions!


The Presentation

Overall, the game is absolutely beautiful. Liked I said before, the game plays a lot like experiencing a movie and the visuals that go along with all of the gameplay are spectacular. Everything you see in the game is very realistic and the development team was able to pull that off partly to the Havok physics engine. You can definitely tell Naughty Dog pushed the envelope with an in-house engine while creating the environments. You truly feel as if you are in Joel’s shoes walking around in areas that do not have electricity and are just overgrown with nature. Everything from the lighting in environments to the smallest details are done perfectly and it shows how hard the development team worked to get these things just right.

Score

Having completed the game and still enjoying Factions, The Last of Us definitely deserves a perfect score. I very much enjoyed every experience I had in the story and also with the multiplayer. I wish I could give it a 11/10 (or an infinity out of 10 if it was up to me!). I feel that Naughty Dog had lots of good “practice” and “warm ups” with all of their previous games to lead up to a strong, serious title that they can be very proud about. The hard work from all members of the Naughty Dog team truly are shown through what they have achieved with The Last of Us. I give the game a 10/10 as a perfect example of modern storytelling in the truest form of survival. The game also gets my vote for Game of the Year for 2013; it really deserves to have that title.

The game I am currently playing to review for you guys next is:

Tomb Raider 2013

Tomb Raider, released earlier this year by Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix, which follows the adventures of Lara Croft. I have heard from friends that this is a decent and much needed reboot for the Tomb Raider series. I will have much more feedback for you guys about the game when I finish it! Until next game.

– John