Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
This series is basically a review of a modern game but with the context of a retro gamer visiting the present. As such it does not contain a review score and often speaks to concepts and franchises from the past. This article is spoiler free outside of what is revealed in trailers and public demos, which is why the screen shots are so vague.
Resident Evil has had a rocky journey over the last five years, up to and including the “Beginning Hour” demo for this very title. The comparison to P.T., Hideo Kojima’s “playable trailer” for Silent Hills that has since been canceled by Konami, is unmistakable. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t want my Silent Hill getting mixed into my Resident Evil, the two should remain mutually exclusive. Couple that with the recent missteps of Resident Evil 6, my personal distaste for Revelations 2, and whatever goal Umbrella Corps. had, it wasn’t looking good. I for one was also a bit worried about the hodgepodge of features thrown at this title including support for 4K resolution, PS4 Pro support, Playstation VR support, and HDR support on all platforms. To my shock and awe, every bad indicator going into the release was without merit as Resident Evil 7: Biohazard demonstrates a return to form I have not felt since the remake of the original on GameCube in 2002.
Set in an old farm house in Louisiana, you play as main protagonist Ethan in search of your girlfriend Mia, who went missing years ago. Those that played through the “Beginning Hour” demo, especially if you caught the final “midnight edition” will find the opening scenes to be familiar but clearly re-engineered. I like this touch and I feel it was necessary for how many times Capcom made us play that thing in hopes to figuring out what was with the dummy finger and several other mysteries from the last six months. While it’s interesting to play through – not to mention the reward you receive for completing it with the good ending and the on-edge “kitchen” demo on Playstation VR – none of this is required if you’re just jumping into the main game. It reminds me why I’ve always appreciated the original work Capcom did on the Resident Evil series. Whether it was “arrange mode” in the original, the way the mansion was reworked in the remake, or even the drastic differences between the shack in the demo and the main game of Resident Evil 7, you won’t be able to guess what’s coming. After that opening sequence you will descend into a literal house of horrors and beyond that kept me on the edge of my seat and thoroughly creeped out for a majority of the game’s 8-12 hour campaign.
It’s finally time to discuss the Gamecube title Fred didn’t even know existed. The first of the “Capcom Five” titles, what starts off looking like a traditional third-person action shooter ends up being a bit lighter on content and much heavier on replayability. With Jam on haitus, Fred is joined by special guest Strip Mahjong and they delve deep into the development, gameplay, and campaign.
Perspective of a Retro Gamer was formerly known as “cross talk” when I was actively involved in the B-Team Podcast. Since I’m on a hiatus, this is the same context in that it’s a largely old school gamer playing a modern game. Think of it as a review that’s more about my perspective as opposed to that now “traditional” definition of a product review fused with a content review. As such, no scores are part of this series.
The Last Guardian has become synonymous with retro gaming, most likely because the design is as aged as the development itself: over 10 years old. So while many contemporary players are walking into the title wondering if it will appeal to them, it seems like the retro crowd such as myself are expected to take to it naturally. Couple that with the assumption that if you like previous games by Team Ico, especially the studio’s initial title Ico, you should enjoy this as well because it is similar in gameplay and design. I’m here to say that after a wonderful initial three hours and a painstaking three more that followed, this is simply not the case. I like old games, I like old game design, and I really like Ico, but I think I’m done with The Last Guardian. Not only that, I find the claim that this title shares much in common with old game design or Ico to be as inaccurate as those that compared Prototype to inFamous back in 2009. For me this is heartbreaking because the game leads you down a path with such wonder, grace, and promise that when it all gets taken away it seems cruel.
Your journey begins as a young boy protagonist – nothing new for Team Ico games there – awakening in a room. The first thing you will notice is the hulking body of your soon-to-be companion, Trico, fast asleep in the room with you. This introduction was abrupt and unexpected, which was magical, as was the reality that you are stuck in a room with a creature you don’t understand yet. There’s no prompt to do something outside of a bit of narrated exposition seemingly told to the player by a future self as well as a handful of prompts on what buttons do without a hint as to your goal. Shortly after Trico wakes up, doesn’t do a great job of telling you what’s expected, and you have to figure it all out. Your journey begins, you go exploring, it’s all basically self explanatory. It’s also stunning to look at. I will admit that the textures are stretched in areas, the shading on the game is an obvious attempt to make it look better than it should, and a vast majority of the whole art direction screams Playstation 2 game. That said Trico is crafted to near perfection. The way the fur or feathers all move as Trico walks or part away like blades of grass as you maneuver its body make the whole thing seem so real. Its eyes, those Trico eyes, are a glance so lifelike that any dog or cat owner can appreciate. Perhaps most convincing was that its movements were so familiar even though no creature like Trico has ever existed. I loved this opening.
2016s Game Club selection may as well be renamed “Jam’s gaming bucket list” as the vast majority of the games we have played this year are titles I’ve been wanting to play for sometime but just haven’t got around to. I could use the easy excuse where I say I’m too lazy or too busy but I choose to go with the excuse that I was on a long and arduous quest to find twelve jade statues in order to prevent the end of the world by new year. Fortunately for myself and humanity I completed that quest, surprisingly in Sleeping Dogs as well and I’m able to finish off 2016 with my review of the game. All in a days work I guess.
Sleeping Dogs is an open world game set in Hong Kong where you play as Wei Shen an undercover cop who is attempting to take down the Triads from the inside. Of course its not that easy for Wei. He soon becomes close with the gangs leading you as the player to question who Wei is truly loyal to. While the story is certainly serviceable and well acted by the voice cast I never felt completely invested. There are some emotional moments in the plot with key characters but the ultimate pay off seemed somewhat lackluster. With the game ending open ended and setting up for a sequel, is disappointing since United Front Games has now closed and the chances of seeing this sequel are very slim.
As with most sandbox games there is a mix of various gameplay styles. Sleeping Dogs main stand out feature is the hand to hand fighting system. Wei Shen is well versed in martial arts as is every bad guy in this game who you’ll usually take on in large groups. You can attack and counter in a system very similar to the infamous Batman Arkham games, although Sleeping Dogs appears to have its own rhythm to its fighting system. I found that you had to be very careful with your button presses to begin with. Once you got the games own rhythm down, I was quite capable even with the odds stacked largely against me, once I got to this stage I felt like Bruce Lee (insert broken table). You can also grapple enemies and maneuver them to create devastating environmental kills such as impaling guys on sword fish or smashing someone’s head into a urinal which reminds me of a fond scene from the film True Lies with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The high quality version can be downloaded at: https://archive.org/details/chroncd_ep4
In this episode, Fred covers the back half of 1990 on the PC-Engine CD.
00:00 – 02:08: Intro
02:09 – 06:08: Magical Dinosaur Tour
06:09 – 08:46: Last Armageddon
08:47 – 15:58: Valis III
15:59 – 18:48: Jack Nicklaus Turbo Golf
18:49 – 20:57: Mitsubachi Gakuen
20:58 – 26:14: Legion
26:15 – 29:32: The Pro Yakyu (Baseball)
29:33 – 31:42: Jantei Monogatari
31:43 – 34:15: Kagami no Kuni no Legend
34:16 – 38:51: J.B. Harold Murder Club
38:52 – 41:33: Avenger
41:34 – 44:49: Ranma 1/2
44:50 – 48:25: Vasteel
48:26 – 50:22: Outro
Two notable racers on the Nintendo 64 are always compared: Mario Kart 64 and Diddy Kong Racing. While more than 6 months separated the games in the US (and even more in Japan), they basically came out together in Europe and have always been compared. Jam and Fred discuss the development and gameplay of each before jumping into the dangerous waters of comparing the two.
Click here to read Drew’s original post comparing the two.
If Nintendo and Rare had an agenda through subliminal messaging then I present to you the game that is the king of repetition: Donkey Kong 64.
As always I like to delve into my personal history with this game. I got the N64 for my birthday as a surprise present from my two older brothers and I was a happy camper. It came with Banjo Kazooie and I was quite smitten with this game. The 3D levels and exploration where just fascinating and I had a fondness for the weird repetitive noises the characters made when their dialogue boxes appeared. Banjo Kazooie turned out to be a very evil game maybe even worse than smoking because it was probably my first venture into a collecting style game. Where in order to progress in the game you have to collect multiple items to get further and further until you finish the game and then you are left to go cold turkey, cold and shivering in the corner. Where do I go from here with my life? Why am I here? Sorry, I got distracted. So these collecting games were huge especially on N64. Mario 64 did this (even though I didn’t play this till a lot later). Over on the Playstation the Spyro series did this (very well in my opinion go listen to that podcast and read the review, please). Rare worked on Banjo Kazooie and I think they must have thought, “how can we take collecting to the next level?” and “what can we do with that Donkey Kong fellow?” Well along came Donkey Kong 64 which is a game that took the collecting concept and turned it up to the max and beyond. I brought this game (with the required expansion pack) and was expecting a nice casual collecting experience. Instead I ended up getting a monkey rap song in my head, which still leaves an imprint on my consciousness to this day and venturing on a collecting journey which took me well over a year to finish in its entirety. I left the cave that was my room with my first fully grown beard ready to return to reality and life again having never looked back since, until this game club. Now jokes aside I actually really liked this game a lot back in the day and it wasn’t the only one I played throughout the year. This was actually a common pattern for me oddly with N64 titles. Even Orcarina of Time took me over a year of on and off playing, I was just that type of gamer then. Donkey Kong 64 felt like a title I really got my moneys worth, not only because it was long but because I got the expansion pack which enhanced some of my other games like Turok 2 (any excuse to mention this game). Sadly I lost my N64 collection to one of my brothers who probably went on to sell the collection so I lost my original copy and my 101% save file. So to prepare for this Game Club I decided to go for the WiiU virtual console version and bravely start from scratch and try to finish this game in a month instead of a year. But that’s enough excessive babbling about my history its time to review this game today.
Despite being a retro enthusiast, I’m also a massive tech fan as my side project has suggested. As such I recently picked up a Playstation 4 Pro and ran it thoroughly through its paces. I tested most things I could think of: different games, different hard drives, different TVs (yes, 1080p and 4K HDR), and I kept my launch PS4 to compare with everything. With that in mind, I think we should open with getting the simple decision out of the way for those that apply, because a majority of this post is about changes and upgrades for existing owners – which Sony is hesitant to admit is the true target for the Pro. If you do not own a Playstation 4 and want to purchase one this holiday season, the decision is really up to you. A slim is a rock solid purchase for anyone who doesn’t own a 4K TV (and possibly even for those that do) and it’s completely serviceable. I was pleased with my vanilla PS4. If you want to upgrade to Pro you simply need to consider how much that $100 is of value to you for potential future proofing (although Sony has vehemently sworn to not allow Pro exclusive games), the prospect of better performance with VR, support for 4K and HDR, and games can run/look better if support is added. Games press likes to pretend this is a no-brainer, but frankly $100 is almost two games (possibly 3 around the holiday season) and if you don’t plan on upgrading to 4K or VR, there’s little reason to pick the Pro if saving money or getting more games is your priority. I’d also like to interject that articles comparing the Xbox One S and Playstation 4 Pro are completely without value. I have both and they should not be compared. The Xbox One S upscales to 4K (but at no visual difference to games), adds HDR (and I have yet to see anything too impressive), and supports 4K Blu Ray, so in truth it’s an Xbox One that adds 4K Blu Ray support and HDR. The Pro is a hardware boost that makes games either run faster or look better (or both), improves resolution beyond 1080p before upscaling to 4K (more on that later), and adds a much more substantial HDR in games that have supported it. Astoundingly, however, the PS4 Pro does not support 4K Blu Ray movie playback. For that reason it’s not apples to apples, that comes next year with Scorpio. It’s also a weird time for PC gaming because not only is HDR almost devoid of this conversation on PC (4K PC monitors don’t currently support HDR), but I feel important factors for myself like surround sound and even quality of the port are a consistent issue on PC whereas this is much less the case on current consoles. With all that in mind, here’s my analysis of the Playstation 4 Pro.
There’s just not much like the game E.V.O. Search for Eden. On top of its ultra rarity that forces most players to use nefarious means, it is a unique title by any definition for the SNES. Fred and Jam delve into a game that is much more action RPG than the creature creator it’s often associated with.