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Showing all 6 posts tagged "single-player".
PWickings
God of War: Ascension Review

So after being delayed a couple of days due to moving in to a new appartment, i finally had time to beat the latest game in the God of war series. Booting up the game, my expectations where sky high. I'm a huge fan of the other games, and so I had been excited for GoWA since the announcement.

If you havent picked up the game yet and wondering if the GoW series is anything for you? Read on! Please note that since i have so many different thoughts on the game, this review will not be split into gameplay, visuals and sound like the others, but will be a collected review on all in one.


God of War: Ascension is a prequel to the very first game in the series. Interestingly, this means that you don't neccesarily have to oplay the previous games before playing this one. I'd recommend it, but it's not necessary.
The game revolves around Kratos' life in the immediate period after having being tricked by Ares, and sends Kratos in search of the truth behind the conspiracy that robbed him of his family.
The story itself has always been a huge part of the GoW games, since they've always been single player only, and even in God of War: Ascension, the multiplayer is in no way tied to the story. So the plot of the games are of huge importance.

This is also my first concern with the game. The story seemed to take too long to start, and despite having extensive knowledge of the GoW universe, it took me a long time to make sense of what the story was about. The first hour or so had very little explanation, which disappointed me. The story however does still rely heavily on elements from ancient greek mythodology, and so the universe itself is still just as it's supposed to be from the previous games.

The scale of the game is another thing. GoW has always been about gigantic bosses and huge interactive landscapes, and God of War: Ascension is absolutely no exception. Sometimes it even becomes hard to make out where Kratos is running around when the camera zooms out to include the impressive environment. This can be a bit bothersome in certain situations when you are actually in the middle of fighting, but I'd say that it happens so little that it doesnt affect the overall gameplay. The landscape always something interesting to look at!

The controls of the game and the "inventory" is directly imported from the other games. Once again you collect xp in the form of red orbs from killing enemies and destroying stuff which you then use to upgrade weapons and items to fit your taste. I'm familiar with the system and thus was glad that they didn't change anything. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Attacking, dodging and blocking are tightly screwed together. At first I thought the combat system was a bit broken since many enemies on the screen combined with the camera zooming out leaves you blind to dodging and blocking because you can't see when enemies attack. this can become bothersome. Especially when you're constantly tryign to fill your rage meter.
That is another thing. The health and magic meters in the game are as per usual filled up by killing enemies and upgraded by collecting chests with gorgon eyes and phoenix feathers. And right here is a problem in God of War: Ascension. As usual, you're awarded trophies for fully upgrading both meters. In the previous games, you had to collect all chests to get this reward, so naturally, I thought this was the case as well here, since no one tells you otherwise. But in God of War: Ascension, there are many more chests than necessary, and so it's actually okay if you miss a few during the story.
But some chests become inaccessible due to forced plot progression, and this forced me to restart chapters multiple times, since i thought I needed all of them. This caused me to waste more than 1½ hour restarting chapters, and is a big problem gameplay wise. God of War: Ascension is a lot more cryptic as to hinting progress paths than previous games. In my case, i was stuck at a cross road. Turning right was the path to chests etc., and left was forced progression. But thinking I'd be allowed to fully explore before progression made me go left first, forcing me to delete multiple hours progress when I later found out I'd missed a lot of stuff. Huge problem for impatient gamers like me.

Furthermore, the game tends to feel quite buggy. Multiple times I was forced to restart checkpoints due to bugged enemies that could not be killed, thereby blocking progression. Minor details, but considering the huge success of the previous games, Santa Monica Studios are just too good to let stuff like this happen.

With all that being said, God of War: Ascension is still an awesome game. It has all the elements necessary to capture its audience. Awesome characters, great voice acting and amazing environments. Not to mention (no spoilers) that the final boss fight is one of the most awe inducing things i've ever experienced in any game, topping all previous GoW games. The general gameplay is incredibly well balanced in terms of puzzles, fighting and exploring, something that I've always felt was off in the other games in the series. The story, once it sets in, is also really enjoyable, and with a little over 8-9 hours gameplay depending on the chosen difficulty feels just right. Those who are familiar with greek mythodology are especially in for a treat, and in general God of War: Ascension is enjoyable due to its very characteristic universe, something that very few other games dare explore. This is God of War: Ascension's trademark.

It may seem strange that I can say so little collectively about the positive things of the game compared to the negative, but it's really hard to define the individual elements, since it is the interplay between the little things that makes God of War: Ascension a worthy successor in the series. Not many franchises see releases of so many games as God of War and still manages to uphold greatness without compromise, despite a few obvious flaws.

REVIEW SCORE: 4/6

PWickings
Asura's Wrath game review

As mentioned in a post a while back, I'd always wanted to review this game ever since it came out. Asura's wrath launched in late spring of 2012, and so isnt exactly a new game. But what kept me from picking it up at launch was the fact that Capcom at the time (and still has to a degree) a pretty bad reputation due to their morally bankrupt use of DLC, a.k.a "you want the ending to the game you already payed for? Then pay for it again in DLC form". So I chose not to buy the game.

But now, almost a year later, I decided to go for it. I bought the game used so not to compromise my boycot entirely, and went ahead and paid for the DLC episodes 11.5 and 15.5, and the "true ending" DLC and was all set.

So was it worth it? Keep reading.

Gameplay
Before playing the game I had heard my share of pros and cons. Most noticably people where saying that this is not a game - it's an interactive movie in which you sit back and watch the events unfold with the help of the eventual quicktime event. This is 100% true. If you don't like quicktime events, stay far far away from this game. Because there's a lot of them! All the time!

In saying that, I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it. I've never had anything against quicktime, and seeing how i mostly play games for their stories, the format of the game didnt come across as a problem. So i played on, mashing the eventual button to death every few minuted when you actually get to control Asura yourself in free combat.

I can see the purpose of the quicktime, as most of the game takes place on an absolutely crazy scale. Think enemies are large in God of War? Think again. This game is absolutely over the top in every way. The action is almost constant and more than often you'll feel as an ant fighting a kid with a Super Soaker water gun. The style of the combat is much like you'd expect from a Dragon Ball Z episode. Constant screaming and power auras flying about, characters displaying absolutely unreal strength. Hopefully by now you get the gist of what I'm saying.

The actual gameplay is in the style of sci-fi asian mythology, which is actually a really interesting mix. As such, you'll be fighting everything from demon animals (called Gohma in the game), to giant statues and gods.
The combat system, once you get to fight for yourself, is quite simple and effective. One button for each move; jump, punch, shoot, lock-on, finishing move. As simple as it gets. This has a few drawbacks though, as combat gets incredibly repetitive fast. Asura's Wrath is the definition of one button mashing. but all in all its well balanced for its purpose. The enemies are plentiful and I was positively surprised by the variety of enemy types. Seeing as how the combat system is simple is reflected in the quite simple enemy AI though, and opponent moves are therefore quite predictable and it's all in reading the patterns of the enemies. The challenge supposedly lies in the fact that you have to watch a lot of enemies at once.

As far as difficulty goes, the game has the standard set: Easy, normal, hard. I was surprised at how easy it was. In my entire playthrough of the game on normal, I didn't die once. That is, until i took on the "True ending" dlc after beating the main story.

Speaking of the DLC. I must admit i was expecting a bit more. The game is structured in episodes, 1-18. The two smaller DLC packs fill out the "gaps" between the events of episode 11-12 and 15-16. All in all, this would lead you to think that the content of the DLC was actually important. It's not. If i could go back, i'd have saved my money. The DLC is more of an alternative take of the art style of the game, lasting little over 6-7 minutes each. However the scope and pace of the game is maintained throughout, so if this is your thing, go ahead and buy it.
And finally, the "True ending" dlc. There are two things to say:

1) If you'd rather save your money, do so. The DLC pack was marketed to seem like a neccesity to the story. But the main story is plenty conclusive on it's own. I bought it solemnly because I thought it wouldn't be.

2) The difficulty of the ending DLC explodes. As mentioned i didn't die once through the entire main story. But starting the 4 episodes in the ending DLC, I'd consistently get my ass handed to me. The episodes are longer than usual, but only because more of the same is thrown in, adding to the feeling of repetitiveness. The ending DLC fails to keep the pace of the game, and it feels like you've simply been set back 5-6 episodes in the main story. The climax of the game's original ending is completely spoilt because of it, and i ended up quitting three quarters in because I felt the story wasnt worth the difficulty.

As you can probably understand, the ending DLC was absolutely not a positive experience in my book. Where the main story is well composed and has a good flow of events, I felt this stopped completely in the ending DLC.

To end on a positive note, the episode structure deserves positive mention. The game lets you go back and replay any chapter you desire individually, making trophy hunting easier. Furthermore, as your skill is "ranked" after every episode, this is an opportunity to improve your score. Each episode content is briefly described to you, making sure you don't pick the wrong episode before starting. It also enables you to gain overview of your story progress.

Another positive element is the possibility to read about the lore and enemies etc. that you encounter throughout the game. Once each chapter is completed, you will unlock information, character models etc in the menu, enabling you to go back and read about who you just killed. Interdasting!

Visuals

I played the game on PS3. and to be honest, I was a bit let down. The style of the game is awesome and you'll truly see some stunning imagery throughout the game, but several graphical glitches presented themselves. The framerate drops considerably during heavy action scenes, to the point that it sometimes interfere with the crucial quicktime events. Futhermore, characters up close suffer from poor texture quality, not worthy of the PS3's otherwise capabilities. It seems clear that the developers focused primarily of large scope texture quality when you're fighting the big enemies. Understandable, but annoying nonetheless. It makes the game feel rushed.

Another problem that often annoyed me was the camera. It's player controlled, but is just too slow for the fast movements of Asura, often opening your back to attacks as you cannot rotate the camera fast enough. Furthermore, the lock-on systemt for airborne enemies bugged me a lot, as you are free to target ground enemies as well. This made it almost impossible for me to aim, and I'd usually end up taking out all the ground enemies first just to aim freely at the airborne ones.
However, the camera fucntioned quite well in battle with larger enemies. the developers did a great job making sure the huge scope of some of the enemies is not wasted and you'll always be free to enjoy the entire scenery on screen without the camera "cutting out" some parts.

That being said, the graphical execution of the game does some interesting things as well. After each episode, a cartoon-like sequence plays out often explaining things a bit more, or elaborating on what's going on in the world whilst you're doing your thing other places. This I haven't seen before, and I really liked this feature.

Sound

Asura is angry. Boy is he angry. Most of the lines in Asura's script is screaming in anger, roaring in fury, yelling in hatred - you get the point. So once again, Dragon Ball Z fans will feel right at home!

The story of the game is told throug the dialogues of the characters in the game, and despite it being quite complicated in the beginning, Asura's does a surprisingly good job of making sure no part of the game's lore is left unexplained. This is something that some other games really lack, and it just makes the game's story so much more - obviously a huge plus in my book.

Voice acting in the game is as it should be. Each character gains a distinct style and feel through the voice acting, making you care more for what happens to them (read: making you enjoy it more when you kick their asses).


So that's my impression of the game. I am mostly satisfied with the game, as it certainly is a interesting take on traditional 3rd person action, and I find myself disagreeing with the mainstream critiques of the game. However Asura's Wrath definitely has its flaws, mostly in the form of disappointing DLC content, game glitches and shoddy camera problems in certain contexts.
A game like Asura's Wrath is something that will probably not be attempted again for some time, and therefore it's certainly worth a shot if you're looking for something different and you can live with a few obvious flaws. And seeing as i certainly dont recommend buying the DLC, you can pick up the game quit cheap now.

REVIEW SCORE: 3/6

PWickings
Dead Space 3 Review

So I managed to stay within my deadline of beating Dead Space 3 within a week of getting it. I must admit I had high hopes for the games, yet had lowered my expectation following the somewhat "mediocre" reviews - at least compared to the rest of the series.

Havent picked up Dead Space 3 yet, and wondering if the game is for you? Read my review below.

Gameplay
From the beginning of the game, the gameplay resembles its predecessors, and you'll instantly feel right at home following the events over Isaac's shoulder. The setup for the controller is the same as it has always been (on PS3 at least), and even if you've never played a Dead Space game, the controls will quickly come naturally. Aiming, shooting and melee feel well adjusted. Some would argue that melee is a bit clunky, but its my personal opinion that this is intended to fit Isaac's rather bulky armor and it just gives the feel of packing a power powerful punch.

As the game progresses it becomes clear that Visceral games has indeed gone a bit away from the survival aspect that created to much tension in the first two games; Ammo and health is quite plentiful, and I seldomly found myself crafting more of the two at the crafting benches. This aspect worries me, as constantly conserving ammo and cursing at every missed shot is what i loved about the previous games. However, Dead Space 3 does much more to scare you in terms of jump scares which actually does a decent job of counter balancing. But more on that later.

The benches themselves are a necessary part of the game now. Through the story Isaac collects spare parts etc. frmo which he can craft weapons, ammo, healthpacks and weapon accessories. Being an "old school" dead space fan i blasted my way through necromorphs using my trusty plasma cutter, so in general I worked little with crafting my own weapons. However a few did get assembled, to much enjoyment. Especially players that enjoy customizing their weapon experiences will enjoy the benches. An importan positive mention is the fact that once you have crafted a specific weapon - should you choose to disassemble it - you will not need to sacrifice more materials to re-create that same weapon later. This way, the game doesnt punish you for disassembling a weapon for later reassembly.
Regarding the ressources for crafting, these are however more scarce than health and ammo. Choosing between upgrading your RIG (your suit) or spending materials crafting more powerfull weapons will pose a dilemma for most players, and not until the games final stages will you be able to maximize your armor etc. - which seems logical. Noteworthy are also the salvaging bots; small robots Isaac can deploy in certain areas found by moving around with a scanner. This is pro and con, since it gives additional resources and adds to the tention as you can not aim your weapon and scan at the same time, giving you a "safety or resource gathering" dilemma sometimes, which adds a great sort of tension. On the downside, scanning takes time and will inevitably slow the game down.

The story of the game will take you through a variety of environments, and thus you get a little of each from the previous two games. Dead Space 3 has more open environment than the first two. At first this was much to my dislike, as open areas are not scary at all. But much to my surprise, the open environments are executed in a manner that gives almost a necessarily fresh element in the series, and it fits perfectly with the story. And don't worry: You'll get plenty of narrow spooky corridors and the like! The environment is also where Visceral Games adds to your paranoia through the forementioned jump scares. More than often, enemies will violently burst out of air ducts and ventilationshafts, drop down from above your head or come screaming at you when you turn a cover. More than often I would shift nervously in my couch as I tried to prepare myself for the next surprise. The game does an excellent job of foreshadowing all the nasty tasks that await you when you enter a new area - most mentionble is a particular elevator ride down into a basement with a tape recording playing the voice of a dead guard telling the story of how he'd had to lock his colleagues in the basement when their minds and bodies started twisting from strange happenings. Have fun down there, right?.

In general, the gameplay of Dead Space 3 is excellent. I really enjoyed playing it. Although I have a few concerns.
First of all, the story itself seems a bit drawn out. Wether this is because i chose to complete every possible optional mission available to "single player" players (read: some missions are co-op only), or because of something else I don't know. I completed the game in just under 14 hours, making this the longest Dead Space game in my book. And admittedly, at the end it felt like i was shooting stuff for the sake of shooting stuff. But it's not a serious issue, just a personal preference.
Second of all, the save system is broken. Where in the previous games you had designated save points, Dead Space 3 adopts an autosave feature. However, the this system takes some getting used to. The hard truth is that the "save and quit" option in the menu only saves your inventory, not your progress! At one point this set me back 20 minutes or so. This can become crucial if you just passed a hard part of a level and then turn the game of. When you come back, you'll haev to go through it all over, without the ammo and health items you had before! This seems like an unfinished system, and should be patched. Until then, make sure you don't quit after seeing a "saving progress" icon flashing!

Sound and Visuals
On a brief end note, let me mentioned the sound and graphical execution of the game. Now, I played the game on my PS3, and I was surprised of how beautiful the game actually is. Especially in the large open environments, Visceral's skills really shine, and some stunning imagery can be found throughout the game. Lighting in the game is very vivid and helps set the atmosphere. And as always, death scenes in this game are simply awesomelly gruesome and worth watching! The large variety of enemies are served well by the design considerations for each of the same.
Regarding the sound in the game; If you don't have a proper sound system, I recommend playing this through headphones. Soudn is such an important part of the game's feel. More than a few time you will need to orient your aim through the sounds of the environment; Enemies shambling shrieking towards you from behind or bursting out of an air duct to your left. As the enemies get tougher, your reaction time becomes crucial, and being alert through the sound of the environment helps you a lot.


Overall, I am quite pleased with the game. It will always be hard for a game to live up to the hype and standards set by succesful predecessors, yet Dead Space 3 does a more than decent job of living up to expectations. Combining familiar elements or the genre with a fresh take on story and environments and structure, I'd definitely recommend game to any Dead Space fan, let alone fans of survival horror. On an end-note however, I would recommend playing the first two games before you pop in Dead Space 3. But when you do: Enjoy!

REVIEW SCORE: 5/6

PWickings
Working my way through Dead Space 3

So Dead Space 3 arrived in the mail today. I'm both really excited but also quite nervous, due to the mixed reviews and my general attitude to EA. However I absolutely loved the first two Dead Space games, so I'm hoping to enjoy this one all the same.

Hopefully my review of it should be up within a week, just gotta find the time to play it! Stay tuned!

PWickings
Troublesome Trophies

Yeah, cheesy title, I realize. However, it's fitting nonetheless. Explanation below.

First of all, yes - I am somewhat of a trophy whore. at least when it comes to Playstation. I don't really have an explanation, as I think is the case with most of my fellow trophy whores. It's just something that follows the love for the system. I guess I take pride in showing some accomplishment in terms of completion in the games I play.

But this is where I've often pondered on something. Long story short, I was re-playing Killzone 3 earlier tonight while i wait for Dead Space 3 in the mail. I played it through with a friend in couch co-op earlier. Suddenly after a few minutes a trophy pops up. "Grats man, you've killed 500 Helgast".

"What? I havent gotten this trophy on the first playthrough? You mean to say I completed an entire campaign without killing 500 enemies?" I still have no explanation. It might be a bug delaying the trophy, or the kill count is limited to one of the players in co-op, I dont know. Nonetheless it got me thinking. I went to my trophy collection, and I realized; Despite having completed the main story and then some i by far the most of the 70-something games I own for the system, my trophy average comes in at ca 40% completion. As I skimmed through the entirety of the section i realized that by far the most trophies in gaming, in many of the triple-A titles released are awarded for either a) Multiplayer accomplishment or b) multiple playthroughs of the same campaign.

i have mixed feelings about this. I realize that in order to achieve platinum trophies, one has to througly dedicate your time to complete every single aspect of a game, and platinums are for those just a bit more hardcore than me. Being halfway through trophy level 13, with just over 1400 trophies total, I still have no platinums (lol n00b). But what sorta bothers me is the antagonizing feeling of neglect connected with having to sit through a game more than once in order to obtain more trophies.

To exemplify: All the games below I have completed the story mission(s), and gotten to percentage of trophies.
F.3.A.R., - 22%
Army of Two: 40th day - 20%
Crysis 2 - 28%
Uncharted 3 - 17%

Now, to obtain the platinum trophies in these games (and many more) requires players to sit through the games at least two times. 1 time on hard difficulty, and then once more on the newly unlocked "Sooper hardz!" I hate this!:P I play games for the story. Once im done with a game, very few games have me coming back to the same story again, let alone on an impossible difficulty! And even then, i have to dedicate 100+ hours shooting hats of enemies to prove my worth as a gamer cough Killzone 2!

So I guess what bothers me is the fact that so many games dedicates so little reward for doing what the game is basically for (at least in my mind): completing the story. This is a very controversial statement, since I realize im basically coming of as pretty lazy, hehe. But at least make more than 20-something percent of a games trophy be campaign related in a way that makes them enjoyable for gamers like me. I like a challenge, I do, but as the rest of the spoiled generation of gamers my age, I just have too short an attention span to sit down and mindlesly grind a single objective that does absolutely nothing to contribute to the story of a game, let alone reward the player with unlockable material once the trophy has been obtained. Like the dreaded "In Memory of Petruccio that still stands as 1 of 2 trophies seperating me from my Assassins Creed 2 platinum trophy.

So I guess thats my cents on the matter. I have no hopes of my issues being resolved any time soon, as I actually see the sense in dedicating little attention to the single player related trophies. Developers trying to establish a community around their games (read: growing multiplayer). So naturally, setting goals for those gamers should require some time to achieve, so not to lose your player base too fast. And hell, some day I might have time to work on it!

Phew, I think that's it for now. Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter, feel free to comment ;)

Until next time
Peter, aka
The Single Player

PWickings
Welcome to The Single Player

Ahoy mate! And thanks for stopping by The Single Player Nook!

If you like to read about gaming news, reviews, rants and voice your opinions on the same, this is gonna be the place for you!

This nook will be dedicated to talking about everything related to games in a single player aspect. Starting a community on this topic is something I've wanted to do for a long time, and this seems as great a place as anything!
I plan on multiple weekly updates, so stay tuned!