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Rate the last game you played

cityvillain

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Darksiders 2 (WiiU) - 7.5/10

I had a lot of fun with this game. It's like a hack n slash Zelda game with RPG elements. I really like each dungeons and the puzzles in it. The puzzles are not that challenging or something very interesting but it's enough to keep my attention to it. Graphics is great, gameplay is great and the story is average. The only critical flaws are the performance in WiiU. It had a lot of frame rate drops, awful screen tearing and the game froze 3 times on me (fortunately the game has auto-save functions). The controls could be better. And sometimes it takes a while just to change the menu screens.
 

MachDragonX

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Alan Wake (Xbox 360) – 9.2/10

I had no expectations for this game prior to actually playing it, but boy, once I did I was shocked how much I enjoyed it.

The only thing I knew about Alan Wake was that it was made by Remedy Entertainment, the same developers who made Quantum Break. And there are a ton of similarities between the games – they both feature a protagonist who can manipulate/utilize a particular environmental aspect in the world/universe (time for Quantum Break, light for Alan Wake) in abnormal ways and are tasked with saving people by using those powers, they both feature similar environmental puzzles, they both heavily utilize some not-so-common items that aren't normally featured in shooters – such as radio programs and television show episodes – that you can actually watch and/or listen to in-game for extra information (much like reading documents in series such as Resident Evil or Tomb Raider, but in a different format) – and much more.

A lot of the gameplay is similar to Quantum Break, which I already wrote a review of on the previous page of this thread, so I won't go into what the gameplay is like. But the story of Alan Wake is nothing like Quantum Break's story. Your main objective is to save Alan's wife, who has been kidnapped by some kind of ancient dark presence that resides at the bottom of a lake in the town of Bright Falls. While attempting to do this, Alan, who is a world famous author, begins to find pieces of a book manuscript that he wrote but doesn't remember writing, and even stranger, these manuscript pages all describe what he is currently experiencing! I won't go into anymore of the plot, but it is pretty weird and crazy, which – considering the game is a psychological thriller featuring supernatural forces – was obviously intentional.

The graphics aren't too great IMO. The game was released for the Xbox 360 in 2010, but there were other games released for the 7th generation consoles around that time with far superior graphics – Resident Evil 5 for example. Some of the facial animations are really wonky, with bad lip syncing during many close up shots of peoples' faces, even during cut scenes. But there are also a number of long-distance scenery shots featuring beautiful graphics, so I'm not sure why there is such inconsistency.

Overall I think this is a better game than Quantum Break. I feel like Quantum Break's combat was superior, but in terms of everything else I'd give the edge to Wake.
 

Poke.

WRRRYYYYYYYY
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Binding of Isaac Afterbirth: 9.3/10
Really good game. I played it by technicality as I am making a Mod for the game.
 

ocelotlrama jaguar

Fluffy with 80% more spots!
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Mighty No. 9 for the Wii U

1/10

I haven't even played the full game yet and already I hate it. I got the Wii U version and there's this massive slow down which causes the console to freeze at times. The load times give me Sonic 06 flashbacks lasting at almost a minute! That has... never happened before with any game I've played for the Wii U. It didn't brick it like the game sites are trouting about, but somehow, it's managed to be even WORSE than the demo. I hear the PC version doesn't do this and if I had known how bad it was going to be, I would have never gotten it for the Wii U. I guess when you port to a gajillion consoles with a miniscule budget ($4 million is a lot to you and me, but to a game company that's nothing), you're going to get this. This is embarrassingly bad. I'd sooner play Mega Man X6 than this game again. At least X6 doesn't freeze the console.

I really wanted to like this game, too. It's kind of hard because even without the problems, the characters are so lackluster and charmless and forgettable. I want to say the overhyping of the game and the treatment of the community manager, which was atrocious at best, is what killed the fun for me, but even if all of that didn't happen, this is pretty terrible by Wii U standards. Do NOT get the Wii U version if you backed this game. If that's all you have, wait until a patch is released to fix the problems (assuming they'll ever make one). Not a good start for Comcept.
 
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Odin Sphere Leifthrasir (Vita) - 10/10
Amazing story that only got better as you progressed through the character. The art is beautiful and vibrant and the OST has some phenomenal tracks on it. The different game modes, areas, and challenges added to this remake are fun and definitely challenging.
 

Cap'n Jack

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The World Ends With You - 10/10

Thanks to everybody who offered me advice whenever I posted about this game in the "games you're currently playing" thread, but now, I can finally say that this one is finished. I figured it would be nice to beat the game today, as fireworks were going off around me (Happy 4th of July, fellow Americans!). According to my 3DS player's log, I booted up this game for the first time all the way back in November... and I only just beat it. I have no idea why this game took me so long, you'd think that I would prioritize it because it has cemented its place among my favorite games I've ever played. My slow, slow, sporadic progress was documented in the "currently playing" thread, and as I was blasting through the ending today (I lost count of how many boss fights that was, holy crap!), all of the advice that I was given was proving itself correct. I got to the one that was "a bit of a puzzle" (that one took me two attempts, I was so close to just one!), then the one that was "pretty easy" (yeah, it was, but I'm glad I wasn't beating her up for too long... [/cruel spoiler teasing]), and then the final boss, where I was almost out of health refills and I really appreciated the advice I was given to "pay attention to the Light Puck" (which was, mercifully, easier than I thought it was going to be, also I remembered that my partner can block attacks, that helped).

Everything that I wanted to be addressed, was addressed. The lingering questions and doubts I had about Joshua were all answered, and the game did something really remarkable; Joshua was such a prick through that whole second week that it was going to take some major stretching to try to get me to like him, and do you know what happened? The game didn't make that huge, desperate reach, it just gave me the information I needed to finally understand him. Neku even says it himself, and that's how I know this was the intention: "I don't know if I can forgive you, but I trust you." Well said.

Once all of the business with Joshua was out of the way, and I finally felt good about putting it to rest, I was finally, after about 26 hours stretched painfully thin over like eight or nine months because I'm just that slow, I was allowed to give Shiki, Beat, and Rhyme the happy ending that we had fought so hard for. I couldn't ask for anything more. The story of this game is basically Evangelion: human relationships are difficult to maintain and painful to lose, but it's worth it. It's a type of story that I've been really drawn to lately, I guess because I still have some things to learn on the subject. Even my #1 favorite video game, Persona 3, is the same type of story. Even then, as banal or predictable as it may seem (because it is), I think The World Ends With You has earned its spot as my second-favorite video game ever, and being second only to the best is nothing to shake a stick at.
 

TeaWest

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Luigi's Mansion (GC) - 7 hours - 9/10

I think I finished this game about a week ago, but nonetheless, this game is awesome! It's so fun, original, and I had a hard time putting the game down. It's super explorable with fun "haunted house" themes, a little bit of humor, and great controls and replayability. It was just a really fun and unique game, and I kind of want to get the sequel on the 3DS now since I heard that was excellent as well. The ONLY thing I could think of is that you can't skip cutscenes. The final boss in particular was a pain to get back too after dying, it took way to long.
 

MachDragonX

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Resident Evil 5 – 7.8/10

I have mixed feelings about this game... On one hand, I don't think this game deserves to be lumped in with Resident Evil 6 as one of the worst games in the series – I feel it is closer to Resident Evil 4 in many respects than it is to RE6 – but on the other hand, it is nowhere near as good as Resident Evil 4, which was a far more memorable, varied, and well-rounded experience.

The game clearly invokes Resident Evil 4 in terms of its basic gameplay components – the Majini 'zombies' are basically Ganados from RE4, the sound effects were lifted straight from RE4, the weapons you have access to are relatively similar, the aiming controls are identical to RE4's, ammo and other resources can be found in breakable wooden barrels, crates, and boxes, you can find jewels and valuable items scattered about that you can sell for money, etc.

But there are also several differences from RE4 that IMO hurt this game. Namely, you have the ability to buy and sell weapons, ammo, health items, and valuable items each time you die and subsequently choose to continue playing. This feature was clearly meant to replace the merchant from RE4, but IMO it wasn't implemented properly. A major difference between the two systems is the fact that you could only access the merchant in RE4 at certain points on the maps, and even then you couldn't buy ammo from him, nor could you purchase more than two First Aid Sprays (and oftentimes less depending on how many herbs you had on you at a given moment). This meant that you still had to conserve your ammo throughout Resident Evil 4's campaign, and that you could still put yourself in a game-ending situation if you didn't conserve your resources properly and couldn't reach a merchant. But with Resident Evil 5's system, item conservation was made into a non-factor, to the point where it is no longer a component of the game. Anytime you die, you can just buy more weapons, ammo, or health items, and unlike RE4, there are no restrictions on how much of a particular item can be purchased at a given time.

Another negative addition was Sheva – your AI partner. Much has been written on how terrible the AI is – she will use healing items anytime she can, she goes through ammo reserves like nothing, she will attempt to shoot enemies when Chris (you) is directly between her and her target, causing her to waste bullets, and vice versa with you attempting to shoot something and her getting in your way – but even still, I don't find Sheva to be that irritating. She definitely has pissed me off quite a number of times for one of the above reasons, or just flat out getting herself killed in environmental traps that she should be able to avoid, but overall she isn't too bad. The AI definitely sucks, but her stupid actions don't ruin the game for me or anything.

But even so, having a partner (AI or player controlled) in the game who has access to all the weapons you have access to definitely didn't do the game any favors when it came to difficulty. There were many times in RE4 where the game just threw everything it could at you, and it could get intense. Resident Evil 5 on the other hand, lacks these moments. Rarely have I felt like my back was against the wall in RE5, partially because of the ability to purchase weapons, ammo, and healing items each time I've died, and partially because of Sheva being able to save my ass several times whenever I come close to dying.

There are other negatives too, namely the fact that Resident Evil 5 continued to push the Resident Evil series into the action genre, eschewing survival horror altogether, and the lack of memorable new characters, but I won't delve into those aspects. One thing I will note however, is that the graphics are absolutely gorgeous, especially for a game released in 2009. And although it isn't a critical addition to the game, the DLC mission 'Lost in Nightmares' was fun to play, albeit short and reliant on nostalgia for part of its appeal.

But overall, Resident Evil 5 is not a good Resident Evil game, although I wouldn't exactly call it a bad game either.

Star Wars Battlefront (Xbox One) – 8/10


I hesitated buying this game for many months after it was initially released, mainly because of the poor/mixed reviews it received and the fact that it was an online multiplayer game only, save for a few offline missions that were not worth paying $60 for. But when I did finally purchase it, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it. It is nowhere near as good as the original Star Wars: Battlefront/Star Wars: Battlefront 2, but for what I paid for it (I wound up buying a digital copy for ~$25), I have gotten quite a bit of enjoyment from playing it.

The main reason I enjoy it is because of one mode in particular – Fighter Squadron. The starfighter controls are super smooth, and because this mode focuses on aerial dogfighting, I can avoid what I find to be one of the more frustrating aspects of online shooters – camping and sniping. Best of all, Fighter Squadron is, IMO, the one aspect of Battlefront that significantly improves upon the gameplay of the original games. Battlefront 2's starfighter missions were clunky and very tedious to play through, and IMO was the weakest aspect of that game. It is the complete opposite for this game – the starfighter battles are superior in every way. It's very reminiscent of Rogue Squadron's combat in terms of how the vehicles handle, but it keeps some of the key mechanics that were featured in Battlefront 2, namely that your laser cannons can overheat if you fire them to much, and your secondary weapons/abilities will recharge over time.

Despite how much I enjoy playing Fighter Squadron, I'm mixed on the other game modes. Heroes Versus Villains is a fun mode – probably my second favorite behind Fighter Squadron – and I like playing Drop Zone and Cargo from time to time, but other than that I'm not crazy about anything else the game has to offer. Walker Assault is very chaotic and played on maps that tend to be optimal for camping and sniping, ditto for Supremacy, Blast is very basic and not too fun IMO, Hero Hunt gets very repetitive after a while, and Droid Run is basically another version of Drop Zone.

Overall I'd say that if you are not into online shooters you should stay away from this game. But if you are, I'd say it is worth checking out. It still isn't worth paying $60 though – not even close. Your aim should be to buy this game at a discount, preferably for less than $30 if you can.
 
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ReturnofMCH

One Who Rebels Against Authority
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forza horizon 2 8/10
a lot more content than horizon 1, but I wish there was still an AI based story progression instead of that stupid drivatar crap from forza 5. (which is pretty awesome mind you, but I prefer having to face AI preprogramed into the game over AI based upon someone else's driving style in the game)
 

cityvillain

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7th Dragon iii Code:VFD (3DS) - 8/10

Disregarding the awful title, this game was a surprise hit for me. I didn't expected anything and never heard of the series before.
The gameplay is polished and well designed. Combat is simple with some twist like having backup members perform attack/support.
Each classes feel so unique and have interesting combat style. I especially love the Duelist and Fortuner.
The game makes you slay all the dragons present in the game; roaming mini boss and major bosses included.
Outside combat, you can construct different facilities for the hub world. Some are mandatory.
There's also a dating element in the game, but it wasn't really in depth. It's just a simple dating element that doesn't really affect the game.
It just gives you a little backstory of the character, a weapon/item on your last date and a suggestive scene which I'm assuming is the "sex scene". lol
It's interesting tho how same sex dating is allowed in the game.
Music is alright and has that 90s Sega feel in it (think of jpop songs). I can't really say anything much about the graphics as it's what you would expect a 3DS can only deliver.
The visuals are nice but sometimes the dungeons can look boring.
The story starts out really simple but as it progresses it becomes quite interesting. There's time traveling in the game.

Overall, it was better than I thought it would be the first time I saw the title and watched trailers in youtube.
Very good RPG and I've completed everything in 60 hours.
 

Cap'n Jack

I will burn my dread!
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Shin Megami Tensei IV - 9/10

This is a high-profile entry in my favorite video game franchise ever, so I was bound to give it a relatively high rating. I have some pretty major gripes with it, but the good outweighs the bad. Even the worst Shin Megami Tensei game is probably above-average compared to most games (I'll probably eat those words some day, I'm just establishing how much this series means to me). I'll list the gripes first:

Lots of this game's mechanics rely on luck. Luck is something that I'd say every JRPG ever made incorporates into at least a couple of mechanics, but besides the usual luck-based mechanics (which monsters are in a random encounter, whether or not you land a critical hit, etc.), Shin Megami Tensei IV has a few other mechanics that are luck-based, which led to some extremely frustrating instances of being totally boned by a streak of bad luck. This game has a battle mechanic called the "Smirk" system. If you exploit an enemy's weakness or land a critical hit, you sometimes "Smirk", which basically puts you in God Mode for one attack. Any physical attack will be critical, all your stats go up temporarily, you glow yellow, stuff like that. You don't get the Smirk every time you exploit a weakness (that would be ridiculous, frankly), but the fact that this is a feature at all means that you will be frustrated when you're really hoping to get a Smirk and Lady Luck ignores your prayers. Conversely, you will also be frustrated when an enemy is wailing on you and gets a Smirk just to add insult to injury. Other things that are luck-based include: the enemy getting the first attack (you can prevent random encounters from going first, but you can't stop a boss who randomly decides to move first and cripples you in one turn); skill mutation; demons being rude to you during negotiation; and more. There is a "Luck" stat, but in my experience, the higher your Luck is, that just makes it all the more frustrating when you do get dealt a bad hand.

The over-world map blows chunks. This game takes place in Tokyo, one of the densest and biggest cities in human history. Do I know which direction I have to go to get to Akihabara from Tennozu? No, but is it reasonable to think that I should be able to get my hands on a map showing the names of these districts and their locations relative to each other? Yes, but does the game give you such an inconceivable thing, which can be created on a piece of paper? No.

Now, to close out this list of grievances, I will give you three last words:

1) Fuck
2) the
3) Matador.

Those are my problems with the game. I went on ranting for a long time about the parts where this game flounders, but make no mistake when I say that the good truly outweighs the bad in this game.

Not all of the demons are illustrated by the same artists, which leads to an ugly clashing of styles at points, but the game's mixture of 3D graphics and 2D sprites gels very nicely. This is a very good-looking 3DS game.

The story is sometimes a bit dense and sometimes a bit ploddingly paced, but it is complex and thoughtful, rife with messages about religion, morality, and society. The first Shin Megami Tensei game I ever played was the first one, which was first released 25 years ago. I was truly astonished by how complex and deep that 16-bit game's story is, and I didn't think I would get the same sense of overwhelming depth from a game released in 2013. However, I was wrong; Shin Megami Tensei IV still blew my elevated expectations out of the water, mostly because of the Challenge Quests (optional side quests that add flavor and character to the bombed-out shit-hole that is Tokyo). This game has four endings: Law, Chaos, Neutral, and Nihilism. Each represents a different idea of how to make this world a better place, and you get endings based on your choices throughout the game. What this means is not you're not guaranteed to get the ending that you actually agree with the most. For example, I got the Law ending, which involves genocide committed by the forces of God. Do you think I wanted to commit genocide, or even side with God at all? No, but that's where my choices led me. Ordinarily, I'd be upset, but this game does something really great: it gives you the sense that you're not getting the full story, and that encourages you to play through the game again to see a different ending, a different attempt at making the world a better place. The game has a secret "stat" of sorts keeping track of where you are on the scale of Law-Neutral-Chaos, and the game will mock you if you say something that's uncharacteristic of the alignment you're currently on. This makes you wonder where you went wrong, where your true intentions lie, what your weaknesses are. The original Shin Megami Tensei did something very similar to this, and now twenty-something years later, Shin Megami Tensei IV updates for a new generation the mature, multi-faceted, and meaningful writing that makes me love this franchise so much.
 

al_the_bard

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Pokemon Blue: 9 out of 10

It brought back a lot of great memories. The gameplay can be challenging, especially if you don't know what you're doing. But there's also a lot to do.
 

Wispy Willow

Ducks
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Heh, I haven't posted in this thread in a while, have I? Well, I just finished a game, so now's as good a time as any to post here... So let me tell you a tale of something something I don't really know how to segway into the game's title it's Jotun: Valhalla Edition for Wii U.

Now, this here's a game I have been interested in for quite a while. As for why, well, it pretty much involves you journying through various places in Norse mythology (which happens to be one of my favourite types of mythology (which may or may not be due to a particular series of dungeon-crawling RPGs), despite how little I know about it) on a quest to defeat five Jotun, or deities. As for why you are doing this, well, the main character, Thora (or at least I'm pretty sure that's her name it sounds something like that), was a warrior who, in the opening cutscene, drowns. This isn't exactly good in and of itself, but what makes it worse is that, in Norse mythology, if a warrior does not die in battle (or, as the game puts it, 'die a glorious death'), then they are not able to enter Valhalla (or heaven if you prefer). Thora, however, is given a second chance - if she can best five Jotun, then she can have a chance at entering Valhalla, and that's about it for the story. A simple premice that doesn't get in the way of killing gods, I like it.

However, it is also worth noting a few things: firstly, as I mentioned earlier, the locations you have to travel through before you can battle a Jotun and the sights you see along the way are the developer's interpritations of various Norse myths, and thus might be unheard-of by most people. Perhaps anticipating this, they made Thora have knowledge of these myths and recount them to the player when they approach something that relates to it in some way... not that she speaks that often, mind you, but it's better then nothing. And the second thing of note is that Thora speaks in what I can only assume is Icelandic. Points for authenticity yay.


Moving on to the other main reason why I wanted to buy this game - the visuals... and oh boy do I like the visuals. Well, the backgrounds, even though they can be both awe-inspiring and beautiful at the same time (such as the bottom of the Roots of Yggdrasil level, which I feel I have to give special mention to because of how awe-inspiring it is), aren't actually the main reason why I like the visuals in this game - it's the models for Thora and the foes she faces. While some of the smaller ones aren't super-detailed due to how far the camera can zoom out in this game, there is one thing that makes them all unique from any other game I've played: they are hand drawn. Or at least they have been made to look hand-drawn, but either way they look like something out of a cartoon or that one XBone game. All-in-all, it's a really pretty game for the most part, and that's all that really needs to be said. Aside from that it's in an isometric-esque perspective, which can be a tad annoying at times, but that's besides the point.


And now we come to the gameplay itself and it is... interesting. Earlier I mentioned that you have to travel through various places from Norse mythology before you get to fight any Jotuns, and these areas can vary in quality. Well, most of them are very good, it's just that some are... less then stallar, shall we say. As for what you do in these levels, well, you basically have to find a rune in and, once you have two runes, the door to the Jotun of that area will be opened. It is the methods of getting to them that make or break the levels, however, and each level offers some new mechanic or other that makes it different from the last, and while most of them are good (special mention to the Northern Sky, which happens to be my favourite level due to its unique concept alone, as well as whatever that frozen lake level is called due to the sheer terror and awe that comes with walking on the ice there), there are some that just aren't very fun, such as both of the Musphelheim levels (one of which involves lots of lava and pushing rocks into lava and waiting for more rocks to push into more lava, while the other requires using rafts to move from place to place to piece together what I assume is the Norse myth of creation, which would be much cooler if it wasn't so easy to get lost with how the level is set up and the general bland appearence of the place, and both of which involve some drops in frame rate). But that's besides the point - most of the levels are pretty good, and even if they aren't, then at least you usually have something nice to look at, and you can do them in any order you like so that's also something.

As for the actual combat, well, this is where the Jotuns come in, since there isn't actually that much combat in the main levels, effectively making this a game about boss battles or something... and I don't know if it has something to do with not having much combat outside of these fights, but they are pretty hard. But we'll get to that later, as for Thora's moveset, she has two different ways to attack - a standard swing with her axe and a charged axe swing, both of which are rather slow. She also has the ability to roll out of the way of attacks, which isn't exactly slow but it's not the fastest evade in the world either. All-in-all, it's a rather slow game, which may take some getting used to, but it's still perfectly playable one you get the hang of it.

When it comes to the actual battles withthe Jotun, I must say, while I have definately seen some cooler bosses in my time, these guys are pretty high up there, partially because how well each of their fights play out. For example, while at the start of the fight they don't really pose too much of a threat, as their health bar goes down, they will get access to more and more moves and use them more often, and the fights are paced in such a way that the escalation in difficuilty is pretty seamless - they don't just go from squirting spores at you to trying to anhilate you with thousands of root-tentacles just like that, rather it's a slow process, letting you get used to the boss's attacks before gradually amping it up to eleven - game design in other words. Oh, and I feel I have to give special mention to Musphelheim's Jotun, for not only having the coolest design dat lava beard tho, but also being my favourite in terms of the actual fight.

But as for how I feel on the gameplay as a whole... Well, it could be better, but it is in no way terrible. I like it.


...OK I think I've rambled on about the gameplay enough let's move on to the music, and... it's pretty good. Perhaps not the most memorable on its own since I can't remember any of it while actually writing this post up to this point, but that doesn't stop the music from being really good, fitting the situation it plays in really well. Now, if you want an example, I have some here. *Looks up Jotum music*

Ah yes, the music from my favourite level, always a good place to start. It's nice.

This one, while not that impressive on its own, certianly does its job of making you feel tense as f*** when you know something big is following you.

And finally, the battle music of my favourite Jotun is a good a place as any to stop talking about music.

There, you see, good music. It'd be better in-game, but what can you do. Though before we move on I think I should probably mention something first: the ambient sounds this game has are really, really good. Just thoguht I should point that out since ambient sounds are important for setting the mood and all. Moving on.


...Well,, actually, I don't think I hav emuch left to cover. Unless I left something out, but that's beside the point. So I think I'll sum it up here: if you are looking for an interesting take on Norse mythology, then I'd say pick this game up. If you are looking for a game with nice visuals and setpeices that will both wow and terrify you, then you can also pick this game up. If you are after a way to waste about five or so hours while listening to rather atmospheric music, then by all means, pick this game up. Or even if you just want to fight some challenging bosses, then pick it up. But if you don't like fighting hard bosses or exploring incredibly large areas for one or two items isn't your thing, then I'd say you look elsewhere. As for an actual rating, though, I'd give it a 7.7/10.
 

Doctor Celebi

Aimless traveler in time.
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Yars' Revenge (Atari 2600) - 7.5/10

Despite being 34 years old, the game is still really fun to go back to and play from time to time.
 

Scarlet Sky

Violet Detector
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Undertale (PC) - 9/10.

Hush. .-. I did play and enjoy this game a lot. The characters, writing, and world building/plot are all really interesting. (As well as the soundtrack of course.) Points taken off since its actual gameplay isn't QUITE as good as those things, but it isn't bad. I just wouldn't say it's the main reason to play. I wouldn't say it's GAME OF THE YEAR FOREVER, but it is still an amazing game. Would definitely recommend to anyone who wants something different than just about every game out there.
 

Cap'n Jack

I will burn my dread!
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Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors - 9/10 (of course!)

My biggest problem with this game is just the way that it played out for me. This game is all about the multiple endings, and I was lucky enough to see stumble upon every ending, however, the grind that I went through in order to get to this point was a pretty big bummer. This game has six endings, and I went through them like this:

- My first run-through took a few days because I couldn't skip any of the text, not that I would anyway, since it was my first time reading any of it. I got acquainted with the controls, the premise, the characters and what have you, and I ended up getting the "Axe" ending. That came as a shock, and a pretty effective one, too! In that jarring moment, I suddenly understood the real flow of this game: going through the story over and over and over again, trying to get different endings and go down different paths in order to slowly, painfully slowly, figure out this mystery.
- "What is the purpose of the Nonary Game?" "Who is Zero?" These became my guiding questions, whose answers are buried deep, in bits and pieces, within this game's clockwork of multiple paths.
- I ran through the game again, making slightly different decisions, and got the "Submarine" ending, which is more drawn-out and mysterious than the "Axe" ending. This made me think I was getting somewhere. Next run through, I got the "Knife" ending, which is a step backwards from the "Submarine" ending in that it's a sudden abortion of all the momentum I had been gathering up to that point. Oh, well, I thought, if I keep this up, I'll be seeing all the endings in short order. I was very wrong...
- The bulk of my time with this game was spent doing the same things over and over and over and over again. Each time I got one of those same three endings and restarted, I fast-forwarded through more dialog I had uncovered, and I went through the puzzles quicker and quicker as I was trapped in them for the umpteenth time. Still, I kept going, because although I was seeing the same things over and over again, each run through I made one more tiny connection in my head, and slowly I exhausted every dialog tree I could find and opened every door I could get my hands on. This period of time, getting the same three endings, lasted several months and made me quite stir-crazy.
- Then, last evening, I finally made a break-through. I lined up the pieces in just the right place that I got the "Coffin" ending, which is actually the True Ending abruptly cut short at a very tense moment. I felt totally blue-balled, but then I received a major hint that led me to get the "Safe" ending. Then, finally, I got the True Ending, played the most intense game of Sudoku ever, and brought this thick, dense, labyrinthine, surprisingly emotional story to a close.

So, as you can see, the drudgery of trial-and-error that I put myself through in hopes of unlocking more endings was a drag, but what lies, piecemeal, in this game's maze of multiple paths is a story of suffering, revenge, sacrifice, seemingly-irrelevant science experiments, modern myths, mathematics, mummies, sexual tension, uh... it's just very dense. I'm not yet sure if I would rank this among my favorite video games of all, but it is certainly among the most complex, and it is a truly excellent example of telling a story in the video game format. I recommend it wholeheartedly, if you promise me that you'll go into this game prepared to give it a lot of careful thought. That's what the developers did.
 

MachDragonX

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Gears of War 4 (Xbox One)

I'm going to break this review up into two parts – one for the campaign, the other for the multiplayer.

But before I delve into them, a few new things have been added to the series via this game that I want to highlight and discuss, as I feel are positive additions to the Gears of War games.

Cover mechanics:
One of the new game play mechanics The Coalition heavily advertised prior to the release of GOW4 is the ability to dive over pieces of cover to grab enemies who are in cover opposite to where you are located. For me, this was always one of those features that should have been in past games – it always seemed silly to me that two players could be in cover less than a foot away from each other and yet couldn't grab one another. Instead players would try to psych each other out, seeing which of them could shoot the opposing player first by popping out of cover for a brief moment without getting killed in the process.

Now with a press of a button, your character will dive over cover and grab the opposing player/enemy in question, stunning them and giving you a brief moment to execute a close range knife attack, which instantly kills. To me, this is a very good addition to the game and a no brainer... I'm actually shocked it took the series so long to implement this mechanic.

However, I disagree with the game designers' choice of having the grab animation play regardless of whether an enemy can be grabbed or not. Now, as long as you are in cover and press the grab button, the animation will play, which can cause players to whiff on their grabs. This means that baiting players into going for the grab and moving aside at the last second can occur, often resulting in a quick death due to how long the grab animation is. I've had this happen to me a bunch of times during online matches thus far. I've only successfully pulled off a grab and stab combo twice, while I've whiffed probably six or eight times.

Controller button layouts:
One of the most overlooked additions, but no less of an important one in my view is the addition of the Alternate Tournament controller scheme. Anyone who has played any Gears of War game before knows that the default controller layout scheme has the 'A' button designated for roadie running, rolling, mounting cover, and vaulting over cover. If you play Gears online or have played Gears online in the past, you know that this control scheme can be problematic if you want to be able to wall bounce efficiently. For those who don't know what this is, 'wall bouncing' is a method of moving across a map that increases a players evasiveness. Many top level competitive Gears of War players are pros at wall bouncing.

However, the controller button layouts have always been sub-optimal for wall bouncing, and as a result, some do not use the default controller scheme. Instead they use other layouts, such as the Alternate controller scheme, which has the 'X' button designated for rolling and roadie running, while the 'A' button is used to mount cover and vault over cover. Still, this isn't optimal for wall bouncing, as in order to effectively wall bounce, you need to have your thumbs on both control sticks. As a result, many players utilize weird methods of holding their controllers, many of which involve using several different fingers at once in order to access all the buttons necessary to wall bounce, evade, and shoot without constantly needing to pivot their fingers from one button or control stick to another, like most players do in most other games.

Starting in GOW4 however, a new controller scheme was added which solves this problem – the Alternate Tournament controller scheme. This controller layout switches the 'A' button and the left bumper buttons functions with one another, so now your Tac/Com / Objective Tracker is accessed via the 'A' button and you can mount cover with the left bumper button. This means that you do not have to take your thumbs off of the control sticks at any point, meaning you can mount cover/wall bounce with ease.

This change was actually implemented with Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, however the button functionalities were based on the 'Default' controller layout – the one that has the 'A' button assigned designated for roadie running, rolling, mounting cover, and vaulting over cover. Personally, I have always disliked this layout, as it isn't precise. Sometimes you can roll when you mean to mount cover, or vault over cover when you mean to roll backwards, etc. So I've always used the Alternate controller layout, which spreads these actions over two separate buttons. But now, with this new button layout, I can wall bounce easily without having to awkwardly grip my controller in an unnatural way. Speaking of wall bouncing...

Air Canceling:
Another great new mechanic, this one modifying the popular pre-existing method of movement – wall bouncing. Air canceling is the act of stopping your character from mounting a piece of cover before the mounting animation ends. Since wall bouncing is basically the act of mounting several pieces of cover in succession, one after another after another, the ability to stop the sliding/mounting animation halfway makes your character's movements far less predictable. This is a huge advantage for wall bouncers, but thankfully due to the limits the game places on how far away one can slide into/mount cover, it isn't too overpowered. I also heard that the online beta version placed limits on how many times players can actually touch walls/pieces of cover within a given amount of time, but I haven't heard or tested whether this limit carried over to the released version of the game. Either way, air canceling makes this restriction irrelevant, as you no longer need to touch pieces of cover in order to wall bounce.

New Weapons:
Most weapons from the previous Gears of War games return in GOW4, save for a few – off the top of my head, Digger Launchers, Boom Shields, One Shots, Sawed Off Shotguns, Ink Grenades, and Butcher Cleavers are not in the game... I'm sure I'm missing a few others though. As for new weapons:

The Dropshot:
One can think of this weapon as the inverse of the Digger Launcher – whereas Digger Launchers launch explosive projectiles underneath cover, Dropshots launch them over cover. I tend to not like weapons that mess with the cover mechanics of the game, so naturally I'm not a fan of this weapon. But they do require skill to use effectively in multiplayer, so at least they aren't overpowered in a mindless kind of way...

The Buzzkill:
Basically a gun that fires buzz saws. They are heavy weapons though, and power weapons as well, so they are rare, have limited ammo, and cause your movement to slow down significantly, similar to Mulchers.

The Trishot:
Another heavy weapon, this one a chain gun. Primarily used by the Guardian DeeBees that you encounter starting in Act 1 Chapter 4. In addition to slowing your movement, Trishots also have quite a lot of recoil, so ideally they should be fired in spurts.

Enforcers:
Rapid-fire sub-machine guns. The uzis of the Gears of War universe.

EMBARs:
Long range sniper rifles similar to Longshots, except they utilize energy-based projectiles instead of regular slugs.

Overkills:
Overpowered shotguns capable of firing several rounds of ammo per trigger pull. Used primarily by the heavy-duty DeeBees first encountered in Act 1 Chapter 3.

Shock Grenades:
Grenades which, when thrown or activated, discharge electrical energy that slows movement and slowly damages all enemies within its blast radius. Using these grenades in conjunction with rapid-fire heavy weapons like Trishots and Mulchers can cause one to rack up a lot of kills, when implemented properly. They are also highly effective against DeeBees.

The Campaign:
There are six campaign acts, with each act split up into several chapters. The first act (Act 0) is a tutorial sequence designed to get the player up to speed on what previously occurred in the Gears of War universe/games. It is a playable flashback sequence that, like many games, is supposed to ease the player into the game by giving them opportunities and sequences to learn the game play mechanics. Aside from introducing one key new character, this act is inconsequential in terms of plot significance.

The game really begins in Act 1. Here you are introduced to The new main character of the series – James Dominic "JD" Fenix, the son of Marcus Fenix, the main character of the original trilogy of games. You are also introduced to his two companions – Kait, the daughter of a village leader, and Del, JD's friend who he served with in the COG. Accompanying these three is Kait's uncle, Oscar, who was a former Gear during the Locust War. None of these characters are Gears now. Instead they are referred to as 'Outsiders' which I guess is supposed to be some kind of modern version of the 'Stranded' from the original games.

JD, Kait, and Del are pretty bland characters. They have playful and sarcastic senses of humor similar to Damon Baird's sense of humor, but without the underlying bitterness. Besides being bland, they don't have much chemistry with one another either. The Gears of War games have never been very character-driven games, but the original cast did have good chemistry. Marcus' down to earth leadership tended to clash with Baird's sarcastic pessimism and constant questioning of authority, which was usually checked by Dom's pragmatism and Cole's lighthearted, go-get 'em attitude. Instead of dynamics such as this, the cast of Gears 4 are completely devoid of any interesting character qualities. Their banter is humorous, but not much else. Oscar is probably the most interesting new character, not because of his history, but because he is a colorful character who enjoys teasing the other, younger characters. Unfortunately Oscar doesn't appear at all past Act 1, except for a cameo in a cutscene later in the game.

The first act has you trying to steal a fabricator – a device that can instantly generate weapons and fortifications. If you've played Horde Mode in the prior games, you'll know this device. In the in-universe world, it can also create pretty much anything one can think of. Kait’s mother requests that JD, Del, Kait, and Oscar go steal a fabricator from one of the COG settlements. Apparently, after the Immulsion Countermeasure Weapon was fired at the end of Gears of War 3, Sera’s atmosphere was altered and frequent, violent storms began to occur. The COG built fortified settlements for human beings to live in. These settlements have huge barrier walls which are designed to protect the settlements and those who dwell in them from the Windflare storms. This act introduces players to DeeBees for the first time. In the years following the first trilogy of games, the COG stopped using human beings to wage war on battlefields and instead opted to build robotic soldiers instead. Later on in the game it is revealed that Damon Baird (who was always good with technology in the original games) designed the DeeBees.

You and your friends wind up fighting DeeBees as you steal the fabricator and get it to Kait and Oscar’s village. You run afoul of the leader of the COG – Jynn – who accuses you, your group, and Kait’s village of ‘stealing Jynn’s people.’ You escape the COG settlement with the fabricator, but Jynn and the COG wind up attacking Kait’s village. You and your squad mates are tasked with defending the village from waves of enemy DeeBees. This part can get challenging depending on what difficulty level you play on, as there aren’t any checkpoints until you completely defeat each wave, and the second wave introduces a challenging new enemy that can give you fits if you don’t play smart and/or aren’t lucky.

Eventually JD, Kait, Del, and Oscar repel the COG attack, but that night the village is attacked by an unknown force, heavily implied to be Locusts, or at the very least related to Locusts. Kait’s village is massacred, and her mother is taken captive by ‘the Swarm’, which is the moniker Del gives this new force. JD decides to enlist his father’s help to get Kait’s mom Reyna back from the Swarm. I won’t go much further into the plot from here on out. The remainder of the game basically consists of you and your squad trying to find out what the Swarm are, where they came from, and getting Kait’s mom back. At one point, Marcus is also captured by the Swarm, but JD and the others do manage to free him before anything bad can happen to him (I don’t view this as a spoiler, since many of game trailers and advertisements have given away this particular subplot).

There are a number of new enemies in the campaign, many of which are derivative of previous enemies in the original games, but there are a few new ones of note that are not derivative: Pouncers are great new enemies that are not too difficult but not too easy to deal with either. Snatchers are one dimensional enemies that are a pain to kill – they take way too long to destroy and aren’t very interesting to fight, as they only have three, very basic attacks. Carriers are mini bosses that are pretty challenging to take down on the harder difficulty levels. There are plenty of other new enemies too, but these three are by far the most unique of the bunch.

My biggest complaint about the campaign is how, believe it or not, the hardest part of it isn’t dealing with the enemies – it’s dealing with your teammates. Your AI teammates are COMPLETE MORONS. They will constantly block your shots, steal your cover, use weapons in environments where they should not be used, etc., all of which frequently result in getting you killed. I have never played a game where the game tries so hard to kill you by using your own allies. I wanted to strangle Kait and Del so many times during the campaign...it was ridiculous. I know Gears has always been a franchise that encourages playing together with friends via co-op, but yeesh… Aside from the stupidity of your AI squad mates, I noticed a massive jump in difficulty from playing the campaign on Hardcore mode to playing it on Insane mode. I’ve never had too hard of a time beating Gears games on Insane difficulty level, with the exception of Gears 3 (there are sections of that game that regularly give me trouble), but with Gears 4, there was nary a section of the campaign where I didn’t die at least a few times. It seemed like there were quite a few poorly designed sections where the game just devolved into pure chaos, creating situations where you need to get lucky in order to advance the game/plot.

The game also had some sequences where the frame rate dropped quite a bit… The game (or more precisely, the Xbox One) seems to have trouble rendering liquids when there’s a lot of action/enemies on screen. Thankfully these moments are rare, but when they do occur they are very noticeable. And the final boss fight has a section where the game almost becomes a slide show… But again, these frame rate issues are uncommon and should not be a deterrent to anyone who is on the fence about buying this game.

Multiplayer:
The online multiplayer plays smoothly, with very few frame rate drops. The maps are all well designed too, at least the ones that come with the base version of the game. However, two changes to online multiplayer really bother me – the addition of ranks, and the changes to the match making process that the addition of ranks (presumably) caused.

Ranks are the way the game calculates player skill levels. They are based off of individual player performance – get the highest or second highest score in enough online matches, and your rank will go up. Keep coming in last on your team, and your rank will go down. The ranks are Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Onyx. These ranks are further broken down into three sub-tiers (Bronze 1, Bronze 2, Bronze 3, Silver 1, Silver 2, Silver 3, etc.). In terms of match making, the game tries to pair you with and against players who have similar ranks.

While I appreciate what the game developers are trying to do by adding ranks, I don't like how they are implemented. They are entirely based on individual performance, but IMO they don't place a heavy enough emphasis on playing the objective in certain modes (King of the Hill). And worse, the game no longer attempts to place players into matches that are already in progress. This is a HUGE problem IMO, as players can and do drop out of matches all the time. There is nothing worse than playing a match where all your teammates drop out in the first round, leaving you in the awkward position of fighting 5 opponents all alone. It is totally pointless... Of course you can leave the match too, but my point is this shouldn't happen in the first place.

My guess is the developers removed the continuous match making process because because it can affect the accuracy of player rankings. If a player gets placed in a match that is about to end, they will come in last place through no fault of their own. This in turn will affect their individual player rank. Still, it's ridiculous. If given the choice, I'd prefer it if they kept the continuous match making and not implemented ranks.

Interestingly, this doesn't seem to be the case when playing social quickplay matches, but maybe this makes sense? I'm not sure if playing social quickplay matches affects player ranks, but if it doesn't then this pretty much confirms my suspicions as to why continuous match making/rolling lobbies don't exist anymore for the core modes.

Other than this, my one comment/complaint about online matches (although this applies to the entire game too) is that I'm finding it difficult to blind fire around corners compared to how blind firing/aiming worked in Ultimate Edition. I used to be able to blind fire around corners with ease and get kills doing so, but because aiming works differently in this game, blind firing around corners has become my Achilles heel. But this is a totally subjective complaint that is largely unique to me. Other online players don't seem to have any problem doing this.

As for Horde Mode, I've never really understood the appeal... I'd rather fight against actual human players in online multiplayer matches or face AI bots within the campaign than attempt to fight wave after wave of AI bots with friends... Just my personal preference. I don't play this mode often, so I won’t comment on it.

Final Verdict:
Flaws and complaints aside, Gears of War 4 is an incredibly fun game. I think its campaign is right up there with the best campaigns of the series. IMO the original Gears of War had the best gameplay, while Gears of War 2 had the best campaign story. While I don’t think Gears of War 4 surpasses either game in these aspects, it holds its own quite well. Personally I like GOW4’s campaign better than Gears of War 3’s campaign, and going forward, I think I will be playing Gears of War 4’s campaign many more times in both the near and longterm future.

As for the multiplayer, while I really enjoy it, I don’t think I will be playing it anywhere near as often as I played Ultimate Edition’s online multiplayer. There are many additions and changes I really like, but the issues I have with it probably will cause me to play online matches every once in a while, rather than multiple times per week, like I used to play.

Gears of War 4 - 9.8 / 10
 

Wispy Willow

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So, it's been a while since I've posted in this thread, and, while I'm not rating the last game I played as the title commands, I figured that, since I replayed it semi-recently, I may as well re-rate the first game I gave any form of critique to, namely Okami. And, even more specifically, the Wii port, though if you like what you hear, then you can also get this thing on the PS2 or the PS3 (and maybe the PS4 if it has the same digital store, I don't have one so I wouldn't know).

Now, first things first, I should probably state that Okami is one of my two all-time favourite games, so I may have a personal bias towards it in some respects, but as for why I like it so dang much, well, here's a basic overview of the game's premise: you play as the wolf-god Amaterasu and have to stop an 8-headed dragon (which, like pretty much everything in this game, is based on ancient Japanese mythology) from plunging the land into darkness. Now, I think I may have just sold one or two of you on this game right there, but for those that aren't convinced yet, I shall now go into slightly more detail on said story... By which I mean an incredibly shortened and bastardised version to give you a couple main plot points and some info on general character stuff:


Story

Once upon a time, in the far-away land of Nippon, sat the peaceful village of Kamiki, where birds sang, flowers bloomed and everyone was happy in general. However, one day, a great dragon by the name of Orochi started eating maidens from the village, in exchange for not just outright flattening the place. However, as the 100th maiden was about to be sacrificed, a warrior, Nagi, who happened to be in love with said maiden, had decided that enough is enough - on the night she was supposed to be sacrificed, Nagi dressed up as this maiden and snuck into the Moon Cave, Orochi's lair, to slay the beast once and for all.

Unfortunately, his sword was unable to pierce the beast's scales, however hard or long he slashed at them, and thus it looked like his ruse was in vain... Until a white wolf that had been stalking the village showed up and, with the help of Nagi, managed beat back the beast and to chop off all eight of the its heads... however, the wolf was also mortally wounded in the fight. Nagi, seeing the wolf was near death, carried it back to Kamiki Village, so that it could die in peace. The villagers then built a shrine where the wolf died to honour its valiant effort.

Now, 100 years after that whole escapade, Orochi, whose spirit had been sealed away in the sword used to slay it, has returned and cursed all of Nippon... except for one tiny shrine in a remote corner of Kamiki, where Amaterasu, a re-incarnation of the wolf that fought alongside Nagi (who also happens to be the god of the sun) appears... The only problem being that while Ammy (as she's later nicknamed) is a god, she doesn't actually have most of her powers upon awakening, on account of her dying and all that. Thus, she must set off on a quest to not only rid Nippon of Orochi's darkness, but also retrieve her lost powers.

Well, that's a basic overview of the plot, and if my description of it seems a little serious, then you may have misinterpreted it, since this game is actually fairly light-hearted for the most part, almost like something out of a cartoon or, well, a myth - heck, there's even a narrator that, well, narrates bits of the story to you on occasion as an elder would to their grandchildren - a fact that is further emphasised by the game's graphics... Which is a rather nice segway to the next thing I'm going to talk about:


Presentation

You see, this game has a rather unique art style, one that I wish more games would try and emulate. As for what this particular art style is, well, have you ever seen any old Japanese water paintings? Well, if you haven't, then you should look them up because they're quite lovely. Oh, and that's basically the look this game goes for (albeit one that's a tad brighter), and it pulls it off incredibly well. I mean there may be some minor issues every now and then such as some errors with the outlines or the way some things rotate to face the camera due to them being 2D images, but despite those minor issues (which only really are issues if you're explicitly looking for issues), you could take just about any shot from this game, frame it, hang it on your wall and anyone who isn't an art critic would call it just that - art.

What's more, due to the particular art style used, it doesn't look like the game's aged a day since its release. Oh, and to complete the whole Japanese water painting look, the entire game actually has an effect that makes the whole thing look as if it was painted on a piece of parchment. I mean, sometimes it's more obvious then others, such as during Great Divine Interventions - incredibly pretty cutscenes that play when you revive a particular piece of land - or, during an underwater level, where there's an effect that make the 'paint' blur and smudge a bit as if the paper itself was getting wet, but it's always there, and it's a really nice detail to pay attention to.

Needless to say, I really, really like how it looks, and I should probably stop rambling about it… Though there is another reason I really like this particular art style choice for this game, but I shall hold off on talking about that for now, since it relates to another topic later on. But for now, let's talk about how this game sounds.


Sound

Unsurprisingly, much like everything else that I've been talking about, the music in this game gives of that whole 'ye-olde Japanese' vibe - expect to hear a lot of eastern instruments in this game's soundtrack, as well as the occasional vocal noise or two. Now, I don't know about you lot, but I really like this particular style of music, so not only is this one of my favourite games, but it's also got one of my favourite soundtracks.

Oh, and the individual bits music actually fit rather well with whatever they're associated with. For example...

The elegance of the Dragon Palace's theme fits perfectly with the serene underwater palace it plays in.
The Ryoshima Coast theme has just the right mix of beauty and awe one might expect from a large seaside locale (and is one of the game's best themes by the way).
Waka's battle theme captures the spirit of elegance associated with character in question but, since it’s a battle theme, is still a pretty darn good at hyping the player up.
And speaking of character themes, Susano's character theme, while it does sound rather epic (befitting the descendent of that warrior I mention in the story section), it's also rather effective at making some of his rather comedic moments that much more comedic, with clever starts and stops of the music during cutscenes, as well as shifting to a more action-packed version, so to speak, every now and then.
As for something a bit more relaxed, well, for that we have Reset ("Thank You" version), which plays during one of the most heart-warming cutscenes in the game, and this serene yet sorrowful yet inspiring and just plain beautiful piece of music goes that little bit farther towards jerking a tear from your eye.
And finally, I would be remis if I didn't at least bring up the most iconic piece of Okami music, Rising Sun, and it's iconic for a dang good reason: it is a rather inspiring piece of music and, since it's music that plays during a pivotal moment of one of, if not the best boss battles in the game, it's also really dang good at inspiring the player. That, and while still being one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard.

Anyway, that's enough rambling about music, as for the other sound effects, well, remember how I said that the game had a cartoony feel? Well, part of that is derived from the sound effects... which I can't really find words to describe other then 'cartoon sound effects with a Japanese flavour', if you can try and picture that. Oh, and there’re some traditional ‘item get’ sounds and the like, which also have that whole ‘Japanese flavour’ as well, that too. Moving on...



Gameplay

And now, the final topic I wish to talk about, the gameplay. As far as the basics go, have you ever played one of the newer, 3D Legend of Zelda games, such as Wind Waker or Twilight Princess? Well, this game has been described as 'the best Zelda game Nintendo never made', so if you liked either of those, then you'll probably enjoy this game too. However, if you haven't played either, I shall now ramble on for a bit:

Firstly, you play as Amaterasu, who, during standard gameplay, roams around the game's open-world environments and delves into its dungeons, jumping over obstacles and maybe tackling a few things in her way to interact with them, or to find items or money to buy other items because that's how Zelda games work. As far as that stuff goes, it all feels incredibly enjoyable to control, particularly because of how fast Ammy moves combined with the general elegance of said movements. Though the tackling is controlled by shaking the Wii Remote because the Wii has motion controls and all that, but it's probably one of the better uses of motion controls for a Wii port since A. you won't really be tackling all that much, as I'll explain later, and B. these motion controls usually do what you want them to for once. Oh, and there's a flurry of flowers (or some other type of foliage) when you do pretty much anything in this game, which makes doing those things (particularly running around) that much more enjoyable.

However, when running around the game's areas, you may stumble into a Demon Scroll or just trigger a scripted encounter, which means you'll enter a combat arena and be forced to fight whatever foes decide to show up. As for how you can fight off those dastardly demons, well, you have two ways to do so, one of which is that thing I keep promising to explain later, but the main one is your Divine Instruments - one of three weapons you can clobber the creepies with, namely a Reflector, some Divine Beads or a Glaive. As for how you clobber them, well, whichever one you have equipped as your main weapon replaces the 'tackle' command you usually get when you swing the Wiimote, and... the results may vary here. I mean, the basic Reflectors are probably my favourite now, but they take a while to get used to since they have a short-ish range and you have to swing in a certain rhythm to make the most of it, the Beads are good for new players and were my favourite back when I first played it, since they have a long attack range and don't require a specific rhythm, but they don't really do that much damage unless you know how to use them, and the Glaives... well, it would be my favourite type since they let you charge up for some devastating attacks, but that kind of thing is a bit of a nightmare when motion controls are involved, so... no thank you. Also, regarding enemy variety, while there are a decent amount of regular enemies (and some later reskins for when you level up a bunch), the variety within those regular enemies and the general flashiness of the combat is enough to keep it interesting.

Also, as far as character progression goes, there are four main ways that Ammy gets stronger on her journey. The first is finding different Divine Instruments, of which there are fifteen in total - five of each type - each being slightly stronger then the other. Though a few do have special abilities, which does give them a bit of use after you've found stronger ones, but it's up to you if you actually want to use them. Oh, and you can equip another one as a sub-weapon for different effects - a Reflector becomes a shield to block attacks and counter with a flashy, high-damage attack, the Beads turn into bullets and the Glaive lets you charge your opponents head-on.

The second way you can upgrade your stuff is by visiting a dojo and paying some of that hard-earned yen of yours to learn some new techniques, which vary from combo extensions to the ability to double jump to a swift dodge (which is rendered useless since it's motion control-related and jumping'll get you out of most sticky situations anyway) to the ability to dig through more stuff and even some attacks that involve hitting your enemies with some wolf waste, so to speak.

The third way involves you gaining experience points and then spending it on various stats. However, you don't gain experience from defeating monsters - probably because the experience in this game is given a different name - Praise. You see, in Okami, kinda like in Japanese mythology (I think), if people don't believe in a god like Ammy, then they lose their power. Thus, the more you help out the people of Nippon the more Praise you gain and the stronger you can become. A rather neat connection between narrative and gameplay, if I do say so myself. Though you don't just gain Praise through helping people, you can also gain it through feeding animals or purifying the land, but the principle's the same - do good things, be Praised for them, level up. Either way, it's a nice change from the standard 'kill things and get stronger' EXP system in most games with such a system. And as for the final means of upgrading I shall speak of, well, much like in Zelda games, this comes from gaining new abilities...

And this is the thing I've promised to explain five or so times now. You see, you know how I said there was another reason I liked the particular choice of the game's art style, aside from it just being pretty to look at? Well, that reason is as follows: in this game, when you get a new ability, it doesn't come courtesy of a new item or something stuck on the end of your arrows, oh no - in Okami, you gain Brush Techniques. You see, once you meet the first of the brush gods - the beings that once gave Amaterasu her godly powers - you gain the ability to, at any point, hold down the B button, which turns that moment in time into a canvas, which Ammy can use her Celestial Brush (a.k.a. her tail) to paint on - in that watercolour style I like so much, obviously - and, if you draw specific simple shapes then, assuming you've obtained the corresponding Technique, you will unleash one of Amaterasu's godly powers. For example, if you draw a circle in the sky, you will use Ammy's signature Sunrise and turn night into day, while if you draw a straight horizontal line through an object, then it'll be sliced by your Power Slash. Now, a lot of these are, for the most part, reminiscent of Zelda items - for example, the abilities to summon Cherry Bombs and fly through the air with a Vine. However, it's just the execution that makes them interesting - you gain them via finding one of the lost Brush Gods and re-drawing a constellation rather then just in some chest in a dungeon somewhere, and you don't just pull then out and hurl them at whatever you're trying to use them on, you are actually painting these things and they're happening, which creates an incredible fusion of narrative, art style and gameplay, and I can't describe how much I love that combination in words alone. Even if the game tends to argue with you over what defines a circle every now and then.

Oh, and another thing I love about this mechanic is that, unlike Zelda's items, which tend to be only truly useful in the dungeon they're found in and maybe a few later ones or the occasional overworld puzzle, these Techniques are useful pretty much everywhere, and not just in combat - heck, the first one you get is Rejuvenation, which restores damaged or destroyed objects, and one of the ones you'll be using most often, Bloom, is used to restore dying plants to full health, purify cursed areas of greenery and even trigger those Great Divine Interventions I mentioned earlier (all of which give you Praise in the process, by the way). Though they do have some pretty significant combat uses though - Power Slashing your enemies to pieces, for example - and you can also use them to add even more flashness to the already flashy combat, like creating a Cherry Bomb to give that Reflector's counter-attack even more flashiness... Did I mention I like this mechanic? Because I really do like this mechanic. Though don't use them too often, however, since to actually use a technique, you have to pull from a pool of ink, which does refill over time but still puts a limit on how brush-crazy you can go.

Also, I feel like I should mention that, like the other things in this game, these Brush Techniques can be upgraded, in one of two ways - firstly, you could find a fountain to throw money into, which lets you get a better version of a couple of your Techniques, and secondly, in order to finish some sidequest or other, you may have to learn a new Technique relating to one you already have, and those... well, they vary in usage - on one hand, the ability to teleport across Nippon is pretty darn useful, but on the other, an ability that calls down lightning but doesn't actually work 80% of the time (and doesn't hit the mark you intended 15 % of the time) is kinda pointless.

Now, what was I talking about before I went off on a tangent about the Celestial Brush? ...You know, I can't remember... Oh well, that's as good of an excuse to talk about the game's puzzles as any. After all, this is pretty much a Zelda game, and what would a Zelda game be without puzzles? Granted, the puzzles in this game aren't very complicated, and the game does hold your hand sometimes via Issun, Ammy's constant companion and a less-annoying version of Navi (who actually develops as a character as the story goes on by the way), and a majority of the rest of them are fairly simple, but hey, they all make creative use of the Celestial Brush in some way or other, and that makes me happy.

Also, on the note of Celestial Brush-related things, there are occasions where you may have to participate in a minigame or two to progress the plot, and... they're alright. I mean, the fishing is pretty fun, if a little tiring on your fingers, and the Blockheads, enemies that block your path until you hit them in some randomly-generated weak spots are a nice test of your short-term memory, but the digging minigame... wasn't actually that bad on this playthrough, but that's probably because I have experience - if it's your first time playing, then you will probably struggle to complete these things which, while they may seem simple in concept - guide an NPC to the bottom of a miniature maze, avoiding obstacles on the way - they're devilish in execution, with a time limit (that varies in how unforgiving it is) to boot. Overall, however, the minigames in this game are... alright.

And now, one final thing before I stop talking about the gameplay - the boss battles, and they too fit the description of 'alright'. I mean, as the plot progresses, there are the occasional boss you'll run into outside a dungeon, who fight similarly to the regular enemies but are attack much more often, have much more health and do a bit more damage, and those are some pretty good fights, but I'd really consider those to be minibosses... As for major bosses, the kind typically found at the end of levels that make use of whatever technique you gained in those levels to defeat them, well... they vary in quality, from 'meh' to 'alright', but they are a good way to learn about whatever Technique you last learnt. However, there are two bosses that I really like, due to how unique their battles are compared to the rest - there's one fight I like where the boss is able to use a Celestial Brush too, so you'd better draw quick or face one of its attacks, while the other one I rather enjoy involves using all your techniques in a long, drawn-out, yet still satisfying battle that I shan't spoil here.

And with that, I think I've droned on long enough - time for a few...


Final Thoughts

Say, you know how I said they paid great attention to detail with the art style earlier? And how I said I'd stop rambling on about how much I like the Celestial Brush? Well, they also paid good attention to detail with the ways you can use the Celestial Brush - for example, if you draw a dot in the sky, you'll create a star up there, that will shoot off shortly afterwards, while if you just slosh some ink over a character, then they'll get covered in the stuff. Both of these things do have their uses - the star thing is used when re-drawing constellations and as part of a story objective, while inking people can be useful in battle, since it blinds enemies for a few seconds. Either way, those are two of the many nice attention-to-detail bits I like about the Brush, and I'll stop talking about it for real this time.

Also, I probably should point out that, for the most part, this game is fairly easy if you have had a little experience with games before. Now, it does make sense for the game to be a bit easy considering that you play as a god - heck, there's even a Godhood mechanic that keeps you from taking damage up to three times if you get hit - but if you're looking for a challenge, then you won't find it here... until you reach Ryoshima Coast, and find the first of three hidden challenges that consist of ten waves of tougher-then-normal enemies (and even some tougher-then-normal bosses in the later ones) that don't drop health when they go down. Granted, you can leave to refill on items and the like between rounds, but these challenges are still pretty challenging, particularly the last one... I don't know how you're supposed to do that one without items...

Oh, and if the very idea of motion controls turn you off, then, like I mentioned at the start, then you could always go for one of the versions on the PlayStation consoles, but as far as I'm concerned, the best Okami experience comes from this particular port, since using the Wii's pointer for the Celestial Brush was the main reason it was ported to the console in the first place, and I'm really glad that they did.

...And that's about it when it comes to what I have to say on this game, so it's time for...


The Final Score

Now, while this may not be the most challenging of games, that doesn't stop it from being fun - it has a great art style that hasn't aged a day, great music to listen to, a rather enjoyable plot you might find in a tale from ages past, some fun and flashy gameplay, and the Celestial Brush to tie all of that stuff together (well, most of it, but you get what I'm getting at). Do I even need to say how much I love this game?

...What, I do? Oh yeah, that's kinda the point of this thread, isn't it? Well, in that case, I give it a 10/10, a true masterpiece. That is all.
 
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ReturnofMCH

One Who Rebels Against Authority
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Halo wars 2: 10/10
Amazing game, amazing story, great gameplay, and a great soul crusher after the final boss
I loved playing halo wars 1 again too
 

Cap'n Jack

I will burn my dread!
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I've finished a ton of games since my last post here (just the examples I can remember: The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption, Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, Life is Strange, Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson, and Metal Gear Solid - if you want me to talk about any of those games, tell me and I happily will), but today I'll just talk about a game that I beat a few days ago.

Senran Kagura Burst - 6/10

I played this game's sequel before this one, so I'm definitely spoiled, but man, this game has some issues. I dove into this series because I got a giggle out of the mixture of a competent beat-'em-up and a slightly dark warring-factions setting with goofy power-of-friendship stuff and - yes, the elephant in the room - ridiculously over-the-top sex appeal/sexploitation, whichever it is. It's a story about two shinobi factions who live to fight to the death and learn that it's okay to trust and nurture relationships with others, but all the characters are teenage girls with GGG cup sizes and bodies that aren't hourglass-shaped so much as "a-generous-dinner-platter-of-specially-selected-and-meticulously-carved-pieces-of-buttery-smooth-and-heaping-thick-white-meat"-shaped. This is a game with such "advanced" jiggle physics that the 3DS will drop frames if the camera gets too close to the characters. That's the kind of game we're dealing with, folks.

Starting with graphics, when the game isn't dropping frames it looks pretty slick and fluid for a 3DS game, but the reality is that you will be playing this game at like 20 FPS for the majority of the experience because there are either a bazillion mooks or more than one main character on the screen.

In terms of game-play, it's technically a 3D beat-'em-up, but the Z axis is very limited, so it really feels more like a Final Fight than a Dynasty Warriors. Light attacks are on the Y button and heavy attacks on the X button, there's a dash and an area-of-effect explosion with invincibility frames for desperate situations, special moves and aerial launches and follow-ups, and different animations depending on when you switch from light to heavy attacks - what I'm getting at is that this is actually a pretty good beat-'em-up underneath all the stripping and the boobs pointing in two different directions. It's not as complex as later games, but this game builds a solid template for Deep Crimson and the Vita games. However, by far the funnest part of this game is the boss fights, and the mowing-down-mook parts (the majority of the game) are either tedious, in Shinobi Mode, or trial-and-error split-second frustration in Frantic Mode, where you strip down to your undies for higher attack and lower defense. That said, Frantic Mode is definitely more fun than Shinobi Mode, but the point is that the game never finds a happy medium.

The story is serviceable, and I'd say even has more thought put into it than a lot of games. By now it should be clear that Senran Kagura as a series has three pillars of appeal: story, game-play, and sex. The sex appeal is... unwavering, but since this first entry falters heavily in the game-play department, the story became a diversion to keep my attention through the Dynasty Warriors-like tedium. The creator/director of these games has stated that he knows the real reason people keep coming back to these games: they get attached to the characters. The characters are certainly familiar to me at this point, but they're still pretty thin (metaphorically, of course). Expect plenty of this sort of thing:

"I will keep fighting! For my friends!!!"

"Maybe the lines between good and evil aren't so clear... good shinobi or evil shinobi, we are still humans!"

"YEAH, FRIENDSHIP!"

"The monster has transformed into a larger monster! This shit is REALLY serious now, more SERIOUS than it was before!"

"Stop sexually harassing, Katsuragi!"

I only recommend this game if you want to see the humble beginnings of this franchise, otherwise just get a newer game is the series, with better titty bouncing-- I mean, better beat-'em-up game-play.
 
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