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Metal Gear Solid Review

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There were so many excellent games that came out on the original Playstation that certain paramount titles could pass you by.  The reasoning is actually two-fold because you may not have missed them – I was acutely aware of the presence of Metal Gear Solid when it released and even played a little of it – but it was back in a time where if a game didn’t click with you, typically you would shrug it off and move on to the myriad of other titles out there.  That was my experience when I first played Metal Gear Solid.  I remember having a heck of a time sneaking to the elevator in the beginning, even harder time getting into the vents outside Shadow Moses, and by the time I find the D.A.R.P.A. Chief only to discover most people got there in 20 minutes I was so frustrated I just quit.  It would appear I not only passed on one of the best games on one of the best consoles of all time, but that I was abandoning a series that stands quite high in my top game franchises of all time.  That’s the thing, though, when you look back on Metal Gear Solid.  It broke so much ground and basically invented the stealth mechanic (after two earlier attempts I might add) that it’s easy to appreciate it but there are a heck of a lot of caveats if you’re going to revisit it today or play it for the first time.  It has much more historical value than replay value, although I did have a smile on my face most of the time.

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Written by Fred Rojas

August 18, 2015 at 11:00 am

Life is Strange Episode 4 Review

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Please Note: Many reviewers out there seem to think it is appropriate to discuss the events of previous episodes of Life is Strange as if everyone who would read it damn well should have already played the previous episodes.  It has been my experience that if you have held out this long and haven’t already played this episode then you are most likely wondering how the game progresses throughout the season and will decide whether or not to buy when all episodes are out.  This is why each episodic review is spoiler free for the entire season, not just this episode.

Episode 4: Dark Room

life_is_strange_ep4_1We have arrived at episode 4, nearing the end of the season and who knows, perhaps this episode contains the major climax for the arc.  I say this without assurance because episode 3 had such an unexpected cliffhanger that I didn’t think it was possible to get me again.  I was wrong.  That being said I need to come right out and say I was a little unimpressed overall with episode 4, proving that the warning I gave in the first episode’s review may have actually come to fruition.  Whereas episodes 2 and especially three can begin to fork based off of your choices and possibly even suggest that two playthroughs is more of a recommendation rather than an option, episode 4 is forcing you down a corridor.  Granted, it’s a well calculated corridor that presents itself with the illusion of choice, but I’ve seen this trick before in The Walking Dead series from Telltale and without sounding catty, I thought Dontnod was above that.  There’s a decent amount of substance here still, with the story having easily its highest moment yet as the episode closes and again there are some strong emotional scenes that make up a very heavy episode.  One thing I do find a bit troubling is the fact that as certain plots unfold, others are left almost unmentioned, which nets a lot of catch up, wrap up, and resolution required for the fifth and final episode.  I’m just hoping that it remains as interactive as the others have been and doesn’t become the 90 minute ending of Metal Gear Solid 4.  Dontnod has yet to convince me they don’t know how to craft a story and without a doubt they know how to catch my interest, here’s hoping the ending stands as strongly as the jaw-dropping cliffhangers of previous episodes.

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Written by Fred Rojas

August 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

Alpha Protocol Review

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Alpha Protocol is a game designed around choice, optimized for espionage, and works really hard at having you roleplay as the type of secret agent you want to be.  During our game club podcast, we all would refer to our handling of Agent Michael Thorton as “being in character,” which goes a long way in telling you just how immersed in the game one can get.  Before you go thinking this means you’ll feel like a true secret agent, there are many aspects of Alpha Protocol – the most notable probably being the game glitches and bugs – that will remind you time and time again that this is a game and tethered to the tropes of such.  Still, as time has gone on and the fact that we have rarely seen games quite like it, Alpha Protocol has had a lasting impression and subsequent cult following that we not so warmly embraced when it released up against the likes of powerhouses like Mass Effect 2.  It’s time to take a critical eye to this self-proclaimed “Espionage RPG” and figure out if it’s more James Bond or Maxwell Smart.

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Written by jamalais

August 6, 2015 at 11:00 am

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City with Fred and Jam

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Fred has never played Operation Raccoon City and after it was mentioned on the most recent Silent Evil Episode, he finally decided to join veteran to the game and co-host Jam for a co-op session.  This is the result.

Warning: This video contains adult language and graphic violence.  The chat language is quite offensive as well.

Written by Fred Rojas

July 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

Parasite Eve Review

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Parasite Eve was born from the JRPG rush that flooded onto the original Playstation in the West after the success of Final Fantasy VII.  During this time we see many new franchises that never left Japan coming over to the West as well as several franchises from the days of the 16-bit era coming over as enhanced ports on the PS1.  Square Enix, one of the top developers and publishers of JRPGs, decided to create a Western-focused action RPG that was developed by Americans working closely with some of Japan’s top talent.  The result is the survival horror and RPG hybrid Parasite Eve, that doesn’t quite capture the hearts of either fan, but is an undeniably unique title.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 1, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Mirror’s Edge Review

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Mirrors Edge was released back in 2008 and believe it or not this year was quite the year for EA releasing new IPs to the new consoles. We got Army of Two, Dead Space, and Mirror’s Edge all in the same year. Now whether you like these titles or not is a matter of opinion but this was a good time to be a gamer. Despite my love for survival horror and heartily awaiting the arrival of Dead Space, it was hard to ignore just how unique and different Mirror’s Edge looked. It’s time to revisit this title and see how it holds up today.

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Written by jamalais

June 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Posted in PC/Mac, PS3, Reviews, Xbox 360

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Suikoden Review

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Suikoden has always been regarded as one of those many staple JRPGs that graced the North American Playstation with its presence after Final Fantasy VII paved the way for the genre to become mainstream in the United States.  In contrast to Square’s innovative title, Suikoden is a transplant from the late SNES days and  to a certain extent its 16-bit roots show (and not just graphically).  Couple that with developer Konami being relatively new to RPGs itself and you see why the overall game feels like a dated throwback to the days before even Final Fantasy IV or VI (II or III in the US), but despite these shortcomings there is the foundation of a much stronger title.  Oh yeah, and did I mention that the game has up to 108 playable characters?

suikoden_plotSuikoden is based off of the Chinese novel Shui Hu Zhuan (which basically translates to the same name) that tells a tale of politics, religion, revolution, and social unrest, which is somewhat common of Eastern storytelling in classic literature.  You play as a hero – named whatever you choose – that enters into the posh world of being the son of the empire’s top military officer.  It’s early in your life and no one respects you yet.  When your father travels off to the north to protect the borders, an adventure unfolds that has you not only questioning everything you know, but lands you as the rebel leader for the army opposing the empire.  There is, of course, a lot more to it than that, but for the sake of the review and your enjoyment with the game, we’ll leave it there.  From the very start you can tell that Suikoden is going to throw more characters at you than you may be used to.  Some of the earliest missions you partake on have you hot-swapping up to six characters, many of which will join your party along the way and you’ll be using in battle within moments. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

May 29, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Playstation, PS3, PSP, Reviews, Vita

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Life is Strange Episode 3 Review

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Episode 3: Chaos Theory

The story of lead character Max, her best friend Chloe, and the various people that cross paths with these girls in the small Oregon town of Arcadia Bay continues.  We are now on the third episode of five, which is the time where typically the twist of the season presents itself and the direction for the overall story arc begins to come into view.  I don’t know where Life is Strange is headed – the twist at the end I never saw coming and it only furthered my intrigue – but I am pleased to say that the flaws I was detecting in the second episode are quite absent this time around.  In fact, it feels like perhaps two different teams at Dontnod are programming episodes because Chaos Theory feels more like the first episode and might even be able to get by if episode 2 didn’t exist (save for a plot point or two).  Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed this third iteration, although despite my gripes from episode 2 being resolved, all new ones have emerged that prove there’s still room for improvement on this project.

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Written by Fred Rojas

May 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Life is Strange Episode 2 Review

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Episode 2: Out of Time

I was quite taken with my initial impressions of Life is Strangethe episodic game that’s part modern adventure and part Choose Your Own Adventure, but there’s a part of me that acknowledged many works have started with fantastic openings and fall short at the end.  In fact, much of the first episode was probably how the game was pitched for development.  Typically the second outing, especially in the case of episodic titles, give us a much better feeling of what the overall title is going to be like and allows us to gauge how effectively or ineffectively the unwinding story and gameplay goals are executing.  It’s also important to note that almost universally the second episode is hit with the largest amount of criticism and negative feedback, if only because it’s a focused burst of reality on the high hopes of the first episode, but also because it’s an awkward in-between time for the plot.  I wish I could say Life is Strange overcomes this potential hitch, but it does appear that like most of the others it just doesn’t quite pack the punch of the first.

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Written by Fred Rojas

May 18, 2015 at 11:00 am

Now & Then: Mortal Kombat 3

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Switching It Up

mk3_1A lot happened both in the talent pool of Mortal Kombat players and in the game design overall between the release of Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3 (MK3).  For starters there was a mass exodus of on screen talent due to royalty disputes, so almost no one from the original two games returned for the third release.  In addition, Boon and his team were trying to turn Mortal Kombat into a viable fighting game with things no one had ever seen before and mechanics that could compete with the massive rush of fighters in arcades.  The game was completely Americanized, with all hints of Eastern influence including symbols, locales, and the soundtrack completely absent without a trace and instead replaced by urban stages, 90s hip-hop soundtracks, and cyborgs replaced the signature ninjas.  These locations were now composed of pre-rendered 3D backgrounds and the character sprites were almost totally digitized as opposed to the digitized/hand drawn hybrid of the previous games.  Along with it came an overhaul of the controls, including combos and a “run” button to address rightful claims that defensive players ruled the previous title.  It’s all one giant 90s metaphor but that doesn’t change the fact that MK3 (and it’s update Ultimate MK3 or UMK3) stands as the moment I felt the series went into the mainstream fighter territory.  Couple this with the fact that it was on just about every console that existed at the time, still dominated arcades, and had more content than rival Street Fighter II could ever dream to do with its iterations and I see why it’s creator Ed Boon’s favorite.  Mortal Kombat 3 definitely upped the ante.

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