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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (26 Games) [Assassins Creed: Brotherhood]
PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:41 pm 
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Dragon Age 2
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Formats
#PC/360/PS3
Genre:
# Action/Fantasy
Origin
# US
Publisher
# Electronic Arts
Developer
# BioWare
Price
# £39.99((http://www.amazon.co.uk)
Release
#2011
Players
#1

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I have completed a full play through including the majority of the side quests, which took me approx 30 hours to complete. The bottom line is this game does not rise to the level of Origins. However, it is a good game in its own right but just not on the same level as the original dragon's age.

The graphics are good, although not ground breaking. Much like the original the enviroments seem kind of stiff with people just standing there that you can not interact with many times. I was hoping this game would take a page from Mass Effect 2. In ME2 I would load up the game just to walk around the enviroments and explore. This leads me to another thing I did not care for with this game and that is the fact that the story has you staying at the same location for the majority of the game. It got a bit tedious walking around the same city without many changes as years passed by.

A major drawback of this game is that you are forced into playing a human character. One of the neat things about Origins is that you could play different races. You could be an elf and experience the discrimination by humans first hand, or you could live the life of a dwarf and learn about their culture from the inside. To me this was a major blow in my wanting to replay the game over and over in the way I did in Origins.

The talent specialization menu feels over simplified. In DA:O you had more flexability in how you designed your character. I also miss being able to outfit my companions. This brings me to my next point. The companions in this game do not lend themselves to the same emotional connection that you have with the characters in the original. They feel as if their character traits are muted. Varric is probably the most entertaining character of the group although I also liked to have Isabella along on most of my journeys, still they are Morrigan and my favorite Leliana. What the characters in DA2 do have some backstories they are not as fully fleshed out as was done in Origins.

The character stories and the main storyline do not feel nearly as epic as in origins and I came away feeling disappointed. That being said some of the side quests were interesting. The voice acting was brilliantly done. The combat effects seem kind of silly where bodies constantly explode. The original game was a bit better in making combat feel a little more grounded in reality. The change to a dialogue wheel made conversations more fluid.

If you never played Origins then you would probably be very impressed by this game. If you have played Origins then you may enjoy the chance to return to the DA universe and see some of the characters from the first that made it soo special. This game is good, but do not expect it to rise to the level of the original.

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (27 Games) [Dragon Age 2]
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 1:50 pm 
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The Witcher 2
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Formats
#PC/360/PS3
Genre:
# Action/Fantasy
Origin
# Poland
Publisher
# Namco Bandai Games
Developer
# CD Projekt Red
Price
# £29.99((http://www.amazon.co.uk)
Release
#2011
Players
#1

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The combat in this game is hard to get used to. It is tricky to learn, difficult to master, and like anything that is both of these things, it is exceedingly rewarding when properly executed. Yes, the opening fights can be hard, but they're hard because we've been weaned on point and click combat--either mmo's wherein we stand toe to toe while idly clicking buttons, or in games like Dragon Age 2 where frantic clicking can very often win the day.

You need patience, timing, and dexterity to succeed. Would you have it differently? Would you rather a pop-up that says 'Would you like to win this fight? Or would you rather earn it? Yes or no?"

And it gets easier, which some have leveled as a complaint. For me, however, it works perfectly. After all, when is the last time you read a book in which the hero kicks everyone's ass in the beginning and then falters at the end? The fighting is great, but you need to lose your preconceptions and play THIS game, not another, when it comes to combat.

Graphically, I really cannot say enough, and you have heard it all before. The detail is astounding. Whether you are navigating the slums of a dilapidated town or trekking through the underbrush of an ancient forest, you are treated to a sense of immersion unheralded in any game before. The same goes for the sound: the music is subtle, but enchanting. The voice-acting is great, and the ambient sounds are incredible. You see where I'm going here.

Alas, to keep this from being a wall of text, I'll get to the bones of my review: this game is what role-playing is all about. It is not about accumulating gear or grinding out levels for incremental perks. It is about the experience. It is about being treated to an unfolding story which you, the player, can actively influence. It is about choice and consequence.

The Witcher 2, in my opinion, is what exemplifies the very best in video games. Too often considered less cerebral than books or less relevant than cinema, this medium has the capacity to be so much more than either. You can lose yourself in a game, and yet in doing so truly you become the very embodiment of its character. Confronted by moral dilemmas that so often mimic the convoluted choices of real life, we can examine ourselves in a bizarrely honest way.

Geralt of Rivia lives in a world full of bigotry and hate, lust-for-power and homicidal zealotry; where doing the right thing means choosing the lesser of two evils, and where he goes on living under the burden of his own choices, right or wrong. So do we. And perhaps through such vicarious means as using Geralt as a tool to confront racism, greed, and political oppression, our own convictions will be made stronger for it.

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (28 Games) [The Witcher 2]
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 7:32 pm 
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Witcher 2 Review (No spoilers).

Maturity:

This game is for a mature audience, with it's crude language and some sexual scenes. CD Projekt emphasis on maturity isn't just limited to these two gimmicks, but the mind set and attitude also. This game requires a mature player who is patient and does not need a cookie reward to be encouraged to play on. This game's rewards are not flashy matrix, cinematic action moves with special effects of exploding bodies and a fireworks display of lighting effects from spells. This game expects a mature player understands what this game is. This is an RPG experience and the rewards are derived safrom that. Player should be seeking dialogue from characters to extract information and be inquisitive to explore. This is a game that won't do it for you, for some quests, you may have to take a pen and paper and write something down to remember, because your quest log won't record it.

The game is not made for young children who may require extensive tutorials and explanations. This game refuses to give handouts and easy hints. The quests and objectives give just enough to give the player some direction but the player is then left to find out themselves. The puzzles and investigation in this game are not hard. All they require is patience (maturity) and a desire to explore and learn. Yes reading is required. This is not a game where you can ignore all quest dialogue and just follow way points for an flashy action sequence junkies. Stick to Dragon Age 2 if you are unable to accept Witcher 2's refusal to hold your hands.

RPG, not Action RPG

This is something that needs to be said since majority of reviewers have mistaken Witcher 2 for an action RPG. This is a true RPG game through and through. The action will not be PRESS A BUTTON AND SOMETHING AWESOME HAPPENS! The combat in this game are just like the dialogue and explorations, a necessity. The combat is well balanced for the game and are not the emphasis, but rather they are a means to an end.

A short opinion on some of reviews that have been appearing on the net. This misunderstanding of what Witcher 2 seems to be the cause of this. Often reviews are giving Witcher 2 low scores for the combat and action. This is a travesty since it shows the incompetency of the reviewers to even understand what they are reviewing. CD Projekt has clearly stated that this is an RPG game not an action RPG. As such, the game should be judged fairly based upon that, evaluated as an RPG game, not an action RPG game.

Dialogue

Witcher 2 features some of the best dialogue you'll encounter. There is a mix of typical jargon you'd expect from a fantasy game, speech style you expect from an era of the past, but Witcher 2 also has some of it's own unique characteristics. The language can be crude but that does not take away from the artistry the dialogue posses. The writers for this game surely must have been fans of the book (I have not read), because the dialogue in this game read as if from a novel, with that same level of quality and finesse. The replies and banter in this game are not curt and short, they are expansive and highly entertaining. This is one of the few games where I do not click to speed through the dialogue. Sitting back and listening is a joy in this game. This level of quality for dialogue is what encourages a player to be inquisitive and talk to other characters. The dialogue is a reward in this game for the inquisitive player.

Plot/Story

The plot in this game unfold just as a novel does. The game is also separated into 3 chapters. Here is an example. In a novel, a prologue is intended to capture a readers interest. Provides some background and then also introduces the reader to the style of prose. The prologue in Witcher 2 provides the gamer some background information, interests the player with some intrigue in a complicated political situation in which Gerald seems to be just another pawn, and introduces the player to the style of the game. From the prologue you immediately are introduced to the language of the game, the brutal unforgiving nature of the game and lack of hand feeding.

Witcher 2 develops the plot with an increasing rising action. As you discover the conspiracies and the roles the villains and the perpetrators have in these conspiracies, the excitement rises! There is an element of mystery as the player tries to unravel what is truly going on. Each character has their own agenda so the player knows there is something each character is not telling the entire truth about. How do these gaps in information fit? Some reviewers will say the gaps are a fault in the game. But then these are the same reviewers where thinking is not rewarding for them, so let's disregard this opinion.

The climax of the game are it's biggest weakness. The game does feel rushed in the climax of the story. But then this is not entirely bad as climax are the peak and they are often short not drawn out as they are in the build up. The decisions you make in the climax of the story don't have as much impact in the direction of the story. This is something maybe CD Projekt can polish up on their next game.

Decisions and outcomes

This is what separates Witcher 2 from the it's competitors. The decisions a player makes controls how the story progresses. This is truly a gem if this is the type of gameplay you seek. The player is at the helm on this one. Your decisions in the prologue will have an everlasting impact throughout the game. Your decision in Chapter 1 will provide two different Chaper 2 outcomes. Yes depending on your decision you will have two separate 10-15 hours of quests and gameplay in Chapter 2. This provides the ultimate in replay value for an RPG game. Chapter 3 will continue this. Your decisions in previous chapters will influence what you do in the last chapter, and not just the preceding chapter, but from all. What you do in Chapter 1 will influence the decisions you make in Chapter 3. This is because your perspective of the game changes. The information you gather are from a different perspective and no doubt your decision will be influenced on how perceived the situation based on those perspectives.

I highly encourage all players who enjoyed the Witcher 2 the first time to play again the 2nd time. Force yourself to choose the decision you did not want to make the first time and you will be rewarded from 10-20 hours of extra gameplay with a different perspective.

The player is also given the power to determine the fates of the characters in the game. This is an incredible feature of the game. Games have in recent times become just a movie for most game developers. Games are a way for a developer to tell the story how he/she wants it told. This is sad and disheartening. Blizzard, BioWare, Valve all of these companies that make games with plots do the same. They don't allow the player to decide, this game isn't yours. This is their game and how they want the story to unfold you are not in control but there for the ride. CD Projekt goes against this trend. They put in the extensive voice acting to ensure all options are available and you are allowed to make that decision. CD Projekt thrusts the fate of the people in this game into your hands and you decide!

Visuals

There is little that needs to be said about this. This game is uncompromised in it's mature story content and gameplay. The visuals are the same. The sun shafts are stunning. The lighting and reflections are top notch. The colors are vibrant and dazzling. The textures are bump mapped and do not have the flat boring look that Dragon Age and Dragon Age 2 and Crysis 2 feature. The visuals of this game are uncompromised for PC. They did not skimp anything just so the visuals will run better on consoles. But that's not to say this won't be ported to consoles, more on that later. The attention to detail is mesmerizing. Every piece of clothing in intricate detail, the shell and armor of the monsters are well drawn. Nothing is left with low textures as they are in DA2/DAO and ME2. Everything is with the same level of attention as the faces in this game.

In short, if you want an RPG game on PC to see what a PC is capable of, Witcher 2 is that game. This is the best visuals you will find in an RPG game to date. I have little doubt the visuals in this game will exceed that of Elder Scroll V Skyrim also. Bethesda makes numerous compromises in their console ports, ES V will be no different. So if you game have decided to limit your budget on RPG games this year or limited your time dedicated to RPG gaming and need to make a decision based on the visuals, Witcher 2 is a safe bet.

Controls

The controls take a while to get used to but they are a weakness. The traditional mouse and keyboard controls are forsaken for controller/console friendly controls. The mouse is not used to point and click to objects, to open doors, click on characters for dialogue etc. All of is directed with WASD and pointing the Gerald in the direction of the object of interest. This obviously makes this a very console/controller friendly game. CD Projekt did not compromise the visuals or the complexity of the plot for consoles though. But I would say, don't be surprised to see Witcher 2 on consoles soon. Meanwhile, on PC, the KB and Mouse are fine as that's how I played, but using a controller I would say is highly recommended. You can use either or.

Conclusion

Not much else for me to say. I loved it. If you want a game that does not compromise on the story, plot, decision making and combat then is is for you. If you are a person who is tired of games that are made for the masses of all ages with hand holding, then this is a game for you. This game is for the mature audience in it's entirety. A proper game for adult gamers.


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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (28 Games) [The Witcher 2]
PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 6:21 pm 
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Call of Juarez: The Cartel
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Formats
#PC, 360, PS3
Genre:
# Action / FPS
Origin
# US
Publisher
# Ubisoft
Developer
# Techland
Price
# £34.99((http://www.amazon.co.uk)
Release
#2011
Players
#1

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The visuals for Call of Juarez: The Cartel are interesting, well on the detail to the environments were in some of the level's seemed a little bland and on some level's they used a foggy look which was alright but was a little annoying and their is some levels that take place in the desert which was the best looking environment's in the game visually.

So I'll talk about the levels that were a little bland first and they are the levels that are in the urban streets of Las Angeles and the docks they seemed a little under done and it felt like they were not thought out to well and the level design for these level's could have used a little more work and a little more polish to them.

Now the mentioned foggy look that is on some of the level's like the first mission where you have to go and burn up some marijuana fields(sorry for the little spoiler) and this foggy effect is on the level docks which kinda was annoying because that mission is at night so you have that and add the illusion of fog but it's not that foggy it's just the look ( like a little misty fog effect ) but still add the night and a misty fog effect it was okay but could have done with out it and this effect is on about maybe two or three more levels.

Now the gameplay for Call of Juarez: The Cartel is great from a story aspect and is decent from the actual gameplay mechanic's. I'll start with the decent gameplay mechanic's and that is if you are familiar with the control's from the last two Call of Juarez game's especially with Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood where they are almost the same as one another but with some changes cause if you remember from the last two game in the series you could just tap the right bump or hold it down to see what you wanted to cycle through and now in this game you can tap the right bump to cycle through the weapons which you can carry three guns and a grenade or more grenade's depend on how many you pick up along the way and if you hold the right bump you will duel-wield two pistol's or depending on which character you use you can duel-wield two U.Z.I or two Scorpion's or a U.Z.I and a Scorpion or a pistol.

So the gameplay is quite fun but it can get a little repetitive at time's because the enemy A.I. are not that bright in the ways of tactics and like most first person shooter's you have friendly A.I. which they can handle their own but it's more about you getting the job done and one more thing about the enemy A.I. and that is this, their are some time's where you catch one or two of them aiming at your teammate's and while they are doing that they seem to never miss you at all but that is just one of the problem's but not that much though.

Overall point on Call of Juarez: The Cartel is this and despite some issues with some of the level design on some levels and on some of the non-playable-character's and some of the level design was great and the detail to most of the main character's of this looked great. The audio for this game was amazing with a superb sound track and great voice.

The gameplay was decent and the story is great when playing it from three different perspective's and plot line's and a small but great tie in from the previous game's. The on-line for this game has only two modes and drop in/drop out co-op and as some issues. I would like to point out that the main menu is not all that great to look at they could have done the main menu a little better and the overall it could have used a little more polish but other than that there are some great areas to this game, but still there are just some good areas as well.

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (29 Games) [Call of Juarez: The Cartel]
PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:23 am 
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Assassin's Creed: Revelations
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Formats
#PC, 360, PS3
Genre:
# Action / Adventure
Origin
# Canada
Publisher
# Ubisoft
Developer
# Ubisoft Montreal
Price
# £34.99((http://www.amazon.co.uk)
Release
#2011
Players
#1 (online multiplayer)


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If you loved AC2 and ACB then you will love this, there's not much new and there's not much that changes it up too much. Assassins creed revelations is a very 'been there, done that' kinda game. The single player was a big let down though with the final 20 minuets of the game feeling like a forced and rushed ending.
Out of all the enviromental settings in Assassin's Creed, I found this time around to be a bit lacking. I fell in love with Rome and the entire city layout. Constantinople is just too cramped for my tastes, and besides a few spots like the Hagia Sophia there aren't enough landmarks like the Colosseum or other great landmarks. That said, this game is still very enjoyable and fun. The killing moves by Ezio are just drop dead gorgeous, no pun intended. The missions are still great, and almost all of the 100% synchs are possible, unlike in Brotherhood where there were several near impossible ones. Den Defense could've been a good idea, but it just becomes you randomly placing units and hoping that they'll stop the Byzantines.

Moving on..the mutiplayer on the other hand was well done this time. I wouldn't say it's something that really sucks you in or anything. But many nights i found myself enjoying the mechanics and the multiplayer gameplay. It's nice to see a game where it comes down simply to player skill and patience to win. This is the game to play on nights when you don't have too much time on your hands or you just want to pass some time before work/school or whatever you do.

The singleplayer is still fun, and the multiplayer is now one of my favorite games because of the improved matchmaking.

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (30 Games) [Assassins Creed: Revelations]
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:37 am 
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Going to be posting a reviews for all 3 mass effect games now that i have played them all. First 1 will be up tonight :yay:

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (30 Games) [Assassins Creed: Revelations]
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:28 pm 
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Mass Effect
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Formats
#PC, 360,
Genre:
# RPG / Adventure
Origin
# Canada/America
Publisher
# Electronic Arts
Developer
# Bioware
Price
# £14.99((http://www.amazon.co.uk)
Release
#2007
Players
#1


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When Mass Effect was originally released, it unveiled a vast, beautiful galaxy populated by diverse, fascinating alien races. Players stepped onto this stage as Commander Shepard, a hero at the vanguard of humanity's ascension in the arena of galactic politics, and thus began an epic story bolstered by engaging characters and rich, branching dialogue. Exciting combat and robust skill management completed the package, but it was not without flaws. Many small issues have been addressed in the PC release, and the result is a more streamlined, more playable version of one of the best role-playing games in recent memory.

BioWare creates another revolutionary game. Mass Effect further distances itself from the ponderous, tactical feel of combat in previous BioWare role-playing games. Instead, it feels like a bona fide third-person action title. Gunning down small groups of enemies while barely breaking a stride is still immensely satisfying, as is blasting your way out of larger pitched battles--only now you can unleash multiple tech or biotic attacks on the fly. You can dart out from cover, take down enemies' shields, and explode their weapons--all while shooting them--and be back behind cover in a matter of seconds. The real reward of this faster, more fluid action is the sense of power it imbues. Wielding your formidable abilities with ease really makes you feel like the badass warrior you were meant to be, and it makes combat more exciting and fun.

As in most role-playing games of this nature, you begin by customizing an avatar. You play as Commander Shepard, potential savior of the galaxy, but there's plenty of room to mold him or her as you see fit. Physical customization isn't as deep as you'll find in something like last year's Oblivion, but the system is relatively robust, letting you choose from a variety of preset features, and even letting you round everything off with a scar. Shouldn't every badass commander have one? Of course, you'll also choose a class. In this case, you've got six to choose from, each with various strengths in combat, tech, and biotics (Mass Effect's sci-fi equivalent of magic). More impressively, you will select a few autobiographical tidbits--and these choices aren't just for show. Through the course of the game, characters will refer to your past, and your resulting dialogue options will allow you to react to their comments with various degrees of humility, wistfulness, and scorn.

The narrative is pure space opera, yet there's no denying that BioWare has created a tale of surprising depth and appeal. Surprise number one: Humanity is not the political center of the universe. We don't have a seat on the galactic council, or even a representative on the Spectre squad, an elite group of special forces whose members are given wide berth to solve political and military challenges as they see fit. In the meantime, a Spectre has gone rogue, ransacking ancient artifacts and unleashing the violent, robotic Geth race on an unsuspecting galaxy. As Shepard, you pursue him across the Milky Way, visiting one alien world after another and discovering the fallen Spectre's intentions along the way. He isn't the best villain ever created: He disappears for the bulk of the game, which makes finding him feel less urgent than it should. Still, the journey to the game's exciting end is one worth taking.

When navigating dialogue, you'll also be earning paragon or renegade points, which is the usual light-versus-dark system we've come to expect from the developer. Unlike in Knights of the Old Republic, however, your decisions here will not affect any abilities you have. However, the intricate relationship between the story and the game proper means that these decisions still affect gameplay--though that effect is usually an indirect one. More interestingly, your paragon and renegade meters are separate, rather than being at opposite sides of a single spectrum. It's a subtle but effective choice that lends itself to Mass Effect's shades-of-gray fiction, where light and dark aren't mutually exclusive.

The main quest starts you on a huge space station called the Citadel, but takes you across a small series of planets before reaching the game's exciting final moments. Not that you're stuck with the main story, since you can pick up a good number of side quests along the way. Some of them are simple and relatively self-contained, while others will send you across the galaxy to uncivilized planets and derelict spaceships. This involves bringing up your galactic map, selecting a destination system, and going planetside to kick some alien butt. There are multiple regions to choose from, and often multiple solar systems within them, but while that sounds intimidating, it's not nearly as mind-bogglingly huge as you would expect. In any given system, you can usually only land on one planet--and on each of these planets, there are usually only a few things to do before you get to your destination. More surprisingly, once you've finished the mission, there's never a reason to return. Aside from the annoying thresher maws (more on these later), there aren't any hostile indigenous creatures, so once you've dispatched your foes and scavenged for loot, it's time to move on.

A ground breaking game in terms of telling a compleling story ( one that would eventually link across all 3 mass effect games ) It is prehaps this first in the series that gives players the most of what it means to be a human in a galaxy like nothing ever before. In a game player style that really is out of this world.

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (31 Games) [Mass Effect]
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 11:34 am 
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Mass Effect 2
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Formats
#PC, 360, PS3
Genre:
# RPG / Adventure
Origin
# Canada/America
Publisher
# Electronic Arts
Developer
# Bioware
Price
# £29.99((http://www.amazon.co.uk)
Release
#2010
Players
#1

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If you have played Mass Effect, you know that the story is not yet completed. In fact its only just beginning for Shepard as not even an early death can stop him/her from taking the fight to the enemy. Mass Effect 2 is a sequel that improves on almost all levels of the first game, it changes some aspects for the better, leaves a few out but for the most part, it creates are more polished, streamlined and ultimately more playable version of the first game.

The biggest selling point for ME2 is the story and the characters and once again the game is a milestone in modern storytelling and the creation of an unique set of characters. Yes, there might be a few too many but I still enjoyed being spoiled for choices, especially towards the end of the game when your choices become much more meaningful. As usual, death, romance, bromance and loyalty all play an integral and tangible part for the player and it is amazing to see how your decisions and responsibilities as a Captain have true repercussions in the universe and believe you me, choosing with whom to hit the sheets is not even the easiest of your decisions with so many gun-wielding girls (and boys) around. The story was on par with the first game, even though they failed to create a similarly haunting mythology of the unknown hostile entity as they did in the first game but the game added a few interesting layers, many of which will be further explored in the conclusion of the trilogy (such as the allegiance with Cerberus and the cause and effect of decisions made in the game) .

Combat in Mass Effect is much more action-orientated, a trend that will be continued in Mass Effect and while I am usually against making games more on the FPS than RPG side, I did appreciate the changes that have been made. The weapons carry a much bigger impact and oomph than in the first game. Yet, they made away with looting and introduced a research system instead. The results are pretty much the same, you gradually upgrade your gear and ship through findings you make in the battlefield, the only thing I am missing is the ability to customize weapons and armour completely as you would like to as the PRG elements from the first game have been dumbed down to make the game more "actiony" and appeal to a bigger audience. Speaking of resources, the planet scanning system becomes boring after you do it three or four times in the game, too bad that you will probably have to do it a numerous times throughout your travels as you look for resources to improve your ship/squad and missions to undertake.

The main story as the player yet again assuming the role of Commander Shepard ( imported from a saved mass effect 1 save game if the player wishes to ) who while on a routine mission is attacked by an unknown enemy who destroy the Normandy and kill Shepard. Skip forward two years and Sheppard awakes on a Cerberus base to find that he/she has been "brought" back to life and is tasked with working alongside Cerberus forces to investigate and stop the Collectors, a mysterious race who are attacking and abducting entire human colonies.
Meeting up with familiar squad mates from Mass Effect 1 as well as recruiting new ones the player must ready their ship and crew for a suicide mission against the collector home world in an attempt to stop/delay an all out Reaper invasion of the galaxy.

As with the first game the player makes moral choices that effect not only the mission in question but also events in the galaxy which all add up to the main story arch for Mass Effect 3. While most of the choices seem to be a simple matter of good/evil the harder choices are more shaded grey, leaving the player to ponder what might of been as they soon realise that what seems like a good choice at the time was in fact the wrong one later on.
Players also have the ability to improve relationships with team mates by undertaking their "loyalty" missions to endear them to Sheppard ( as well as unlock special costume bonuses for characters). All of these choices add up to the final mission where the player must make choices of which of their crew mates must undertake certain tasks. Pick the wrong team member and they will die during their takes, removing them from the final section of the attack and from the game in general.

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (32 Games) [Mass Effect 2]
PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2012 10:55 am 
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Mass Effect 3
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Formats
#PC, 360, PS3
Genre:
# RPG / Adventure
Origin
# Canada/America
Publisher
# Electronic Arts
Developer
# Bioware
Price
# £39.99((http://www.amazon.co.uk)
Release
#2012
Players
#1 (1-4 multiplayer

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Finally, after 4 1/2 years of waiting we finally get the final showdown between Commander Shepard and the Reepers, but was it worth the wait?

The final chapter in the series has promised to end with a BANG, and it actually does. The Reapers have arrived and have started to tear through The most vital planets in the galaxy, including Earth. For a long time, Bioware promised to give this game the best elements of both its predecessors, and to a large amount it has done just that.

The combat has been updated even further in hopes of rivaling other 3rd person shooters, and it actually does a good job at this, though many would argue that other games have better combat systems, but then again, this is an RPG. Shepard can now run for a long time without stopping up for air and breathing heavy, a feature we missed in ME: 2. Now we also have the ability to do a "rolling fall," stab enemies with an Omni-Blade and do a stealth kill on foes who get to close to your cover position.


Now the storyline, Picking up 3 months after the end of Mass Effect 2 Shepard is being held on Earth in a military base under military arrest after blowing up the alpha relay and killing 300,000,000 Baterians in the process. Bought before a miliary tribunal to advise on the Reaper problem the Reapers quickly appear and attack Earth in full force force your Shepard to leave the planet in a quest to unite the galaxy against the Reaper threat and save Earth.

Linking up with Ashley/Kadion and soon after Liara you soon find yourself understaking a mission to build a massive super weapon that may or may not be able to stop the Reapers once and for all, you visit new locations, previous one and throughout the adventure encounter old and new allies/enemies alike. This is the major aspect where the gameplay blends in and provide the proper output. But I think it fails in some aspects as certain things don't make any sense at all with the concepts on which the game is actually based upon, if you don't have previous mass effect saves it loads the default values and the story continues, characters survived from previous game make some impact on the story and also the choices made shape it's turn but not that interestingly as I feel that it does not come up well towards the end. I will suggest you playing mass effect 1 & 2 first and then starting this game just to experience the full story across the 3 games. While the games ending doesnt seem to fully fit into the full scope of the series ( Bioware will be making an extended ending after massive number of complaints ). It does at least bring an end to the series.

On an interesting note Mass Effect 3 features for the first time in the series a multiplayer mode that ties directly into how the story ends. This tie in is disappointing in that if players whats a great ending they will need to invest time into this side of the game. However at the same time the multiplayer side of things can best be summarized as a kind of team wave survival mode with no other modes with each match consisting of 11 waves total. Players can purchase upgrade packs via bioware points or by collecting enough recits from multiplayer game. These packs offer new and better weapons, new character classes ( Human, Turian, Geth, Krogan, Asari, Batarian, Drell and coming in the next DLC Vorcha ).

The Good:

- Gameplay is similar to Mass Effect 2, combat has not changed much else either but thats what makes the game so easy to pick up and enjoy.
- Side quests return, giving you an aim to collect War Assets to add to your strength of your fleets and armies in the final battle which changes the tempo.
- Storyline and plot, is as great as the rest of the series with an amazing final battle and the feeling of desperation in some scenes.
- Cut scenes are still emotional, with great voice over work and animations.

The Bad:

- Even though the combat system has not become more difficult to comprehend, it feels repetitive of Mass Effect 2.
- The ending has pretty much annoyed most of Mass Effect fans, including myself with the lack of depth and gratification in seeing the series through to the end.

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (33 Games) [Mass Effect 3]
PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:44 am 
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Metro: Last Light
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Formats
#PC/360/PS3
Genre:
# Action/RPG
Origin
# US
Publisher
# Deep Silver
Developer
# 4A Games
Price
# £39.99((http://www.amazon.co.uk)
Release
#2013
Players
#1

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Metro Last Light is dark, relentlessly tense, occasionally action-packed and often frightening. It's rare that we see a shooter of this calibre uninterested in making you awe in explosions and feel powerful when you shoot a gun, instead Metro is unafraid to make you feel scared, make you feel awful and make you feel all alone. It forces you to stop, look and listen. It has a deep conviction to atmosphere and detail which is astonishing, and makes for a beautiful world to traverse but not to do much else in. In fact Metro single-handed reliance on its impressively detailed and dangerous world can on moments feel empty, especially when you're just an observer and aren't shooting or interacting with its world. But once the game throws you out into its urban and underground wilderness with only your guns, your light, and your wits to survive, Metro makes for a compelling journey through the nuclear wasteland.

The story of Metro places you in the immediate after-effects of your decision to annihilate the mutated surface creatures known as the "Dark Ones" from 2010's Metro 2033. These creatures aren't the monsters you're comrades of the Order, one of the three factions that are fighting to survive in the Metro, make them out to be and you are tasked to uncover your mysterious relationship with them. Although it is interesting on a surface level, especially as it frequently made me feel empathetic to the situation of the inhabitants of the Metro, and when it placed me with the burden of his actions from the last game, for the most part I never thought too much of it during gameplay. It feels written outside of a video game context, and therefore fails to cohesively bring out the best in the moment to moment gameplay other than providing backdrop to the traversal and shooting, of which it is excellent. The ending is poignant, for what it is, but the last half of the game doesn't come together as well it could have.

Much of the game is traversal, although it's well-paced with encounters. Encounters offer you choice in how to get through; stealth and full-on action are possibilities, and each are uniformly excellent. The game offers solid mechanics that feel great to shoot, sneak and stab. Unfortunately bad A.I breaks the immersion, being stupid in combat failing or being bad at path-finding. Those choices are confined to human opponents however, which comprise of half of your time shooting.

Unfortunately a lot of time is spent with the stupid and agitated animals which are less engaging intellectually, although are much more frightening. Much of the game is terrifying. The darkness hides the unknown which include mutated creatures such as gigantic spiders, weird shrimp creatures and enlarged wolf-like monsters who look horrifyingly realistic and disgusting. This makes moving through environments utterly engrossing and tense as you narrow your eyes and ears. I jumped off my seat on many occasions as I was playing on Hardcore as one strike from a lobster-like monster's claws could end my life in an instant. Supplies are limited and you spend a lot of time scrounging the environment for them, particularly the gas mask filers which you need to breathe in particular sections. Ammo is also scarce and like the last game, also used as currency, and can be swapped for weapon upgrades and more ammo although many of the guns you pick up are well-equipped anyway making this exchange system sometimes unnecessary although nevertheless welcome.

These moments are immersive because they make you environmentally aware. Metro doesn't succeed as well when it forces you to walk through its long corridors observing the intricately crafted world around you. A little girl who loses her bear, a group of drunken men arguing, a marketplace alive and a theatre complete with hilarious acts. These are a sample of what you observe, but not actively engage with. As a result, the game becomes boring and tedious in long stretches as you wait for some way to actually play Metro. As an extension of this frustration, you begin to want to actively engage in combat which makes for the short no-combat but tense traversals through its environments equally frustrating. It's unfortunate that Metro's only method of immersing you is with detail because the world itself is beautiful to look at, in its own intriguing way.

You are alone for the most part, in this decrepit, dystopian, and for much of it (particularly if we talk about the spiders and the gigantic shrimps or the high level of rotting corpses) disgusting world. The outside sky is grey and sometimes raining heavily over the ruins of Moscow, inside, the environments are claustrophobic, dark and filled with cobwebs. The nuclear wasteland is void of colour. It's depressing. An effective musical score follows you along and becomes one with the backdrop helping to build tension and anxiety appropriately. Along with the relentless fear attached to the mutated creatures that roam this land, much of the game I felt helpless and sometimes hopeless. I wasn't really having fun. I never smiled. It was compelling, but it left me exhausted. By the end it made me thankful that Metro's alternate universe never became a reality. I was also thankful that I had experienced it.

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (34 Games) [Metro: Last Light]
PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:28 pm 
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The Last of Us
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Formats
#PS3
Genre:
# Action/Adventure
Origin
# US
Publisher
# SCEA
Developer
# Anughty Dog
Price
# £37.99((http://www.amazon.co.uk)
Release
#2013
Players
#1

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The Last of Us is probably the best story-driven "zombie" game you're going to play that isn't based on The Walking Dead. One cool thing is that, unlike other zombie-related forms of fiction, Naughty Dog actually explains the infection in a way that it could actually happen in real life. It turns out our infection in The Last of Us is the result of a real species of fungus called Cordyceps evolving far enough to be able to target humanity. Cordyceps, in the real world at least for now, only targets insects.

Starting off, the design direction on the Infected was incredible. The Clickers in particular looked great; spores sprouting from their faces and all that, exactly how the spores sprout from infected ants in our world. The Clickers are one of the most unique-looking "zombies" to be seen thus far.

However, all that aside, there wasn't anything particularly special about the game itself. The gunplay, while enjoyable, wasn't anything new or unique. For example, you could approach encounters either guns blazing with the shotgun, or stealthily with the bow; nothing too ground-breaking. Luckily, the gameplay does have some cool aspects. One of the little craftable gadgets, for example, is a grenade that sends knives and other various sharp objects flying in every direction, shredding anything in the vicinity. These grenades can either be thrown regularly or be strategically placed. As cool as these grenades were, no other weapon or gadget was as unique.

Continuing on with the gameplay, fighting the Clickers was also a bit infuriating. Why can't they be strangled? What makes them different from other infected? Why do they just instantly kill you when you go toe-to-toe with them? From a gameplay standpoint, the Clickers weren't very consistent.

The ending was...it makes perfect sense in the context of the game. It's a conflicted ending that will either be loved or hated; during the final mission of the game, you'll likely be saying, "I've gotta do this, but...why am I doing this? Isn't this wrong?" It was well-written, thought-provoking and interesting.

With all that said and done, the game was good, but very far from Naughty Dog's best. The story was great, but it felt a bit generic until a few hours in. To be frank and honest, the story had absolutely nothing on Bioshock Infinite. Along with this, there was nothing really unique or stand-out about the gameplay.

Nevertheless, The Last of Us is definitely a game worth experiencing, especially if you're a story-driven gamer.

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (36 Games) [Rayman Origins]
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:13 pm 
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Rayman Origins

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Details:

Formats:    # PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, OS X
Genre:        # Platforming
Origin:        # France
Publisher:  # Ubisoft
Developer: # Ubisoft Montpellier
Price:         # €9.99 (Steam)
Release:     # 2012
Players:     # Single player, 4-player co-op.

Rating:
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Review:
People were waiting for a new Rayman game ever since the announcement of Rayman Raving Rabbids in 2005. We all know how that packed out... lots of trailers, advertisements, epic wii-mote controls... only to be greeted by a minigame fest that would slowly become a cancer to the franchise, until it finally split off.
Naturally, the announcement of Rayman Origins reignited hope among old fans, and the promise of an origin story made the deal all the more sweeter. Ubisoft claimed the game would cover much of Rayman's inception and history, and even better, would return to the old 2D platforming style the game was known and loved for.



Ubisoft lied again.

Rayman Origins is a disappointment. Not as much as Raving Rabbids, but still very much a disappointment.

There is no lore/story at all.
The game starts off with Rayman and friends having a snoozefest, their loud snoring disrupting the lives of the denizens of the Land of the Livid Dead. The game ends with Rayman defeating a random Teensie wizard, which was apparently the one controlling some of the monsters Rayman came across throughout the game. The whole Land of the Livid Dead deal, only served as an extra unlockable 'very hard' (Really not very hard at all) level with arguably the easiest boss in the game. The story starts and ends with a complete blank.
The entire Origin Story is scrapped, yet the game still retains it's name Rayman ORIGINS.
Nothing seen in the above trailer made it into the game, except for some of the baddies and the boss character seen at the end... which is the boss for the completely optional Land of the Livid Dead.

A Sonic game in disguise.
Despite going back to 2D platforming, Rayman Origins takes a big step away from the gameplay of any of its previous incarnations. The step is so great in fact, that it went ahead and turned itself into a Sonic game. The traditional, careful jumping and layered level design, made room for freerunner style, flowing platforming with mostly only one direction to move in. The game gained sort of on-rails / infinite runner characteristic. Combat is also entirely different. No more winding up your fist to take out enemies from a long distance. Rayman's unique magic fist abilities are swapped out for karate moves. Enemies you run into serve more as means to slow you down or even as stepping stones in order to get to higher platforms. There's even Sonic-esque loopings, vertical runs and walljumping.

It's monotonous.
Every world in Rayman consists out of the same stages:
- A couple of regular platforming stages
- A Mosquito level
- A Chest Run level
- A Boss level

The regular stages often feature levels design based around a previously received power from the Nymphs.
The problem is that these powers somehow don't really add anything to the gameplay. Where Rayman 1 would change it up and turn you tiny so you could fit through tight spaces, solve small puzzles and find secrets at the cost of mobility, Rayman origins makes you tiny and has you carry on as if nothing really happened. Being small in origins is neither a puzzle nor even much of downside. If anything, movement seemed faster than before...

The level design doesn't feel particularly inspired. It's all pretty much a straight line. Keep running and don't stop unless you spot a electoon cage. It lacks the sadistic nature and depth of Rayman 1.
I suppose that level of difficulty has little place in the modern market, and difficulty certainly wasn't a factor in Rayman 2 and 3's success either, but both of those games still had the heart of a proper Rayman game. Origins seemed like it just wanted to ignore its heritage...

The Mosquito stages are by far the worst part of the game. They're very simple Shoot 'em up sections where you spend 5 minutes mashing the shoot key. Repeat 5-6x because you missed that 1 lum you needed to get highest rating. They're really just filler stages. Once is neat, but 10 is waaay too much.

Now the Chest Run levels...
With all the criticism so far, you may be surprised to hear that I actually liked the Chest Runs.
There designed shamelessly with the new mechanics in mind, and made the best use of it of any stages in the game. Thus they were fun, very much so even, just not very Rayman-esque.

A small issue with the chest runs was their unpredictability. Sometimes the player could act faster than the game expected them to, resulting in miss-timed event triggers. Certain falling stage elements wouldn't align properly anymore and as a result the player dies a rather frustrating death.

Still, I think the majority of people agree that these were the most fun levels, because Origins' sequel, Legends has expanded and polished them further by giving them unique musical themes. This elevates the previously mentioned unpredictability problem, by having the familiar music act as a metronome. Inputs could be anticipated, so no more cheap deaths. /tangent

So, what's good?

The artwork, that's what!
Even though personally I am not the biggest fan of the new art style, I can still acknowledge the effort that went into the game's visuals. Stages are thematic and colorful and the whole game radiates silliness. Everything on screen matches perfectly and some of it is pretty memorable. My only point of critism is that some object hitboxes didn't allign with their visuals. Pretty frequently with the player character would clearly be touching stuff without receiving damage, but this is very minor stuff.

The sound design is fantastic.
Perhaps the biggest upside of the game is its sound design. Rayman games have always had pretty unique tracks and this is no different in Rayman Origins. The OST has a very adventurous character to it and follows a structure and style that's suited to the game's stage-based levels. I think that this track alone elevates my opinion of the game by a whole point:



Possibly the tightest controls I've seen in a game... ever.
Control responsiveness is extraordinary. I'm not saying I like the new mechanics, but they certainly function well. Rayman reacts to every command you give him, exactly as you would expect. It's crisp, without any delay at all. Button mashing results in Rayman properly executing every single key press on the spot, giving the player much control over the game.

Overall, the game scores something like a 5.5-6/10 for me. It just barely passes.
Since there's no story to speak of and the gameplay loop is a bit tiring, the game mostly gets by on its artistic merits.

Frankly, deep down there's a good game in there. It's just not a Rayman game.
The advertising was a lie. The name is a lie too. It's dissapointing.

edit: reworked the review 20/02/2017 ;)

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Last edited by poehalcho on Wed Feb 22, 2017 12:50 pm, edited 12 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (37 Games) [Tomb Raider 2013]
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2017 5:15 pm 
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Tomb Raider

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Details:
Formats:    # PlayStation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux
Genre:        # Platforming, Action-Adventure
Origin:        # America
Publisher:  # Square Enix
Developer: # Crystal Dynamics
Price:         # €19.99 (Steam)
Release:     # March 5, 2013
Players:     # Single player, Online Multiplayer

Rating:
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Review:
So, I'm pretty positively surprised with the Tomb Raider reboot game. I had some pretty low expectations, but it I got it for cheap and when I purchased my new PC it was the most modern game in my steam library, so I installed it to see how it would run :P
It pretty much spent nearly a year untouched from thereon, till I decided to devote some attention to it these last few weeks.

The game is a prequel / origin story of sort, depicting Lara's transformation from timid teen to survivor. Because of this, the game starts off on a slightly weak note. There's lots of completely scripted sequences, QTE depicting lara taking some massively painful hits and lots of pained moaning and whatnot. It's not necessarily bad, but it feels a little like playing a Call of Duty game, it can kinda take you out of the experience when it occurs too frequently. Luckily this all take a step back as the game progresses and Lara becomes more capable.

The story is decent. Not mind-blowing, but fairly solid, bar a few minor plotholes. It's a fairly standard story, but it's well-presented and it maintains a strong sense of urgency all through-out, including a fairly climactic ending. One of my biggest fears for the game was that it would have an anti-climactic ending, but I was very happy to be shown otherwise. There was a healthy amount of ups and downs, and each came around a point in time where you'd want them to.

The game has a good sense of progression. You travel across pretty much the entire island and see it all. There's a slight sense of open world to it, but the paths are all linear, keeping your progress in check and your playing experiences masterfully crafted. I also enjoyed the weapon progression. Each of your weapons, aside from being useful for killing, was also necessary to work your way through puzzles and paths. Bows to shoot rope arrows and pull objects, shotguns to destroy barricades, noobtube to blast metal doors and your axe to climb all over. It felt like everything was well thought out and had a clear purpose.

I also want to point out that the puzzles were some of the best I've seen in games in recent years, they weren't really difficult or anything, but they made great use of the game's physics and they felt nifty and refreshing in an era of fairly braindead AAA games. I had good fun with them.

The low points in the game for me were largely related to locomotion and collectibles. Every time Lara enters a tomb, water or a tight space the movement speed slows to crawl and control is largely out of your hands. These were just tedious bits scattered everywhere and it was usually too dark to really see anything there anyway, so they were nothing but frustrating.

Every area in the game was filled with a certain amount of collectibles ranging from old journals to various ancient treasures. If you're like me, you can't really move on to the next area without clearing out everything 100%. Now, it's no Assassin's Creed in this regard, but hunting all the treasure down did detract a bit from the flow of the story. Luckily none of these items are absolutely necessary, and I urge you all to not waste TOO much time on it. You can certainly skip all the GPS caches, they don't hold anything particularly valuable. And try to unlock the skills that make collectibles appear in your Survival Instict ASAP. You can come back after finishing the game to get all the items you've missed, so have no fear.

I also felt Lara's voice acting was a little off, but that may just be me. I feel her strong British accent naturally carries as certain amount of sass, that detracts from all the pained moaning and sad sounds she produces. It becomes a bit hard to take it seriously at times.

TL;DR
+ Good presentation
+ Good progression
+ Strong suspense and sense of urgency
+ Fun puzzles
+ Fun overall
~ Story is OK. not great, not bad.
~ Quite a different direction than the original Tomb Raider games.
- Bits of slow crawling through tight spaces with nothing to see scattered all around the game.
- Slightly More collectibles than I can consider healthy for the game.
- Lara's voice acting felt iffy to me

p.s.
I found myself entertained in the beginning by how much of laura's problems are solved by setting things on fire. Try doing a pyromaniac run where you always fight with your bow and set as many enemies ablaze as you can for a bit of extra fun.

p.p.s.
Sat, I reworked my Rayman Origins review posted above if anyone cares :P

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 Post subject: Re: SRF Game Reviews (38 Games) [Dark Souls: Prepare to Die]
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:37 am 
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Dark Souls: Prepare to Die

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Details:
Formats:    # PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows,
Genre:        # Action, RPG
Origin:        # Japan
Publisher:  # Namco Bandai Games
Developer: # FromSoftware
Price:         # €19.99 (Steam)
Release:     # 2011
Players:     # Single player, Online Pseudo-Multiplayer

Rating:
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Review:
I have played the Prepare to Die edition of Dark Souls on PC, which includes all DLC, so that's what I'm basing my review on.

Performance
So let me just get the performance stuff out of the way quickly...
It's bad port, ok? It runs like crap in many areas, even on a grossly overpowered PC. By default its locked to 30fps, max resolution is 1280x720, options are nearly non-existent and the controls are pretty abysmal with KB+M, especially the camera. To top it off, there's terrible blur in the distance wherever you look, which I can only assume is intended to compensate for the lower draw distance on consoles.

Thankfully, MODS! If you play on PC, DSFix is an absolute necessity! [ http://www.nexusmods.com/darksouls/mods/19/ ]
DSFix lets you fix all of the above by tweaking a simple .ini file. It fixes resolutions, unlocks framerate (though it's best not to get too liberal with it) and even lets you clear out that blur in the distance.
It does however not really cure the bad performance and KB+M controls. I could maintain 60fps in most areas, but there were also some where it easily dropped to 40~ish. It wasn't really clear what caused it, as a lot of the areas that suffered from it, didn't seem particularly complex :S.

Gameplay
As gamers we've become accustomed to a lot of hand holding in modern games. Dark Souls doesn't do that. It throws you into the world, gives you the quick rundown of the mechanics and lets you figure the rest out on your own. If you don't take those lessons to heart, the game will weed you out quickly.

The game has an intimidating character. The world is larger-than-life and oppressive. NPC's are mysterious, with a tinge of madness. The enemies are carefully placed, so they may surprise and surround player. Recklessness is punished with death and alertness is required at all times. 'Haste makes waste' might as well be the game's motto. Many people quit before even making it to the first Bell of Awakening, because they can't maintain their composure.
Fun fact: Quitting Dark Souls is the lore equivalent of going Hollow

The game is designed around learning through observation and adapting to the circumstances. It treats death as its most important feedback mechanism to the player.
In the beginning it may feel that many things the game throws at you are unfair, but somewhere along the journey, it starts to click and you realize its all on you. You learn to observe carefully, to predict and to survive and before you know it, the constant dying stops.

The impressive thing is that despite the game's hardcore reputation, it's not really all that brutal. In fact, in many ways its much more forgiving than contemporaries. Dying is expected, and the penalty isn't big. You get to keep all the items you've acquired along the way and you are given a chance to reclaim your lost souls and humanity. With the knowledge you've acquired through death, the return journey becomes relatively easy. Other games would simply load you back in time, wipe your progress and randomize the enemy encounters and positioning.

The combat in the game is relatively simplistic, but feels good. It's slow, but very weighty, giving it a very dramatic and rewarding feel when you land hits. There aren't really a lot of moves, though various weapons have at least one unique type of attack in their moveset.
Combat mechanics are largely based around timing and stamina. Taking a hit with your shield, swinging your weapon and dodging all cost stamina. Holding your shield up decreases the regeneration rate.
The key to victory is timing your rolls after the enemy has locked onto your position and making sure you have the stamina left to abuse the newly created opening.

I should also note that the game is surprisingly lengthy. Even without all the dying, the world is huge and there is probably well over 40 hours of content out there, despite the complete lack of filler. It took me about 120 hours to reach the end (though I always play my games very slowly).

Multiplayer
Dark Souls has a pretty funky type of multiplayer going on. If I'm not mistaken Demon's Souls invented it, but Dark Souls popularized it. While the game isn't an MMO, player's worlds are connected with those of others.
There are essentially two operational modes in multiplayer: hollowed or alive.
If you're hollow, you're multiplayer interactions are kept to a minimum. You see hints left by other players, can view a replay of their last death and other fairly minor stuff like hearing the bell of awakening ring, whenever another player has reached it. It's still quite useful and very cool to experience.
If you're alive then the real multiplayer opens up. You become able to summon other players to your aid to play co-op or beat bosses, but you also open yourself up to invasions from other players that want to collect your souls and humanity.

Notably, the game does it's best to incentivize playing alive, even if you're not that interested in the multiplayer content. By staying alive, the game also spawns the occasional NPC invasions. While this increases the difficulty a little bit, these NPC's provide some extra lore material and frequently drop unique equipment you can't get elsewhere.
I also noticed the very subtle addition of an ever so pleasing screenshake effect whenever I used a heavy attack with my zweihander ultra-greatsword. I assume this is present for some other weapons too, but I didn't test it out.

While I didn't participate much in multiplayer content, I enjoyed it a lot. The risk of getting invaded increased the immersion and tension of the game. When an actual invasion occurred, it forced you to think on your feet and added some extra variety to your experience. It's a wonderful mechanic.

Story.
Notably, despite being of Japanese origin, the game only has had an English release. As a result, the writing, voice acting and general presentation are all of very high quality, with a very genuine feel to them.

Storytelling of Dark Souls takes a minimalistic approach. There is tons of lore out there, but much of it told through environments and item descriptions. Little is said explicitly, urging the player to think and leaving much to personal interpretation. If you don't wish to bother with it, you can simply ignore it. It's a difficult thing to pull off, but Dark Souls does it well. It makes you feel a bit like Hystorian or Archeologist when you draw your conclusions.

Another part of the story is the NPC side-quests. It is never said explicitly that they have quests, though they occasionally hint at something related to it. Some NPC's are looking for people, others are pilgrims like yourself that you run into at multiple occasions. The initial impression is that you don't have much interaction with them, and that your agenda's don't really allign, but upon some more in-depth inspection it turns out you interference makes a big difference.
I'd rather not get into the spoilers, but I highly urge everyone that plays this game to watch this Youtube lore series by VaatiVidya: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eJeUG1 ... ZJlXB2CzCz

Visuals
From a technical perspective, the game isn't that impressive, but from a stylistic / artistic approach it's an amazing accomplishment.
Dark Souls draws heavily from western media, history and mythology. The game has awe-inspiring, larger-than-life gothic architecture, jaw-dropping scale and designs straight out of a H.P. Lovecraft novel.
While certain textures leave much to be desired, others are filled with detail.
In order to accomplish these things, the game renders detailed 3D models of everything you see, very little is left to the resource-lite skybox that most games use. The result is beautiful, but also probably one of the reasons the game runs like crap.
This render-heavy approach also sees great use for the occasional destructable environments. For example, floors that cave in blend perfectly with the surroundings. There are no weird stitches, they're virtually indiscernible from the rest of the environment. It makes for a fantastic and unexpected presentation quality.

Spoiler!

Sound
My opinion on the sounds of Dark Souls is mixed. Throughout the majority of your playthrough the game is very quiet. Very few areas actually have music at all, which can occasionally get a bit boring. Only the bosses are guaranteed a soundtrack. Most of these are frantic, orchestrated pieces with a choir signing. They are by all means good pieces, but there isn't too much to discern them from one another. A lot of them use the same instruments and tempo.
I am personally a bigger fan of the rare few calm themes like the main menu theme and firelink shrine.

The other thing I've got to say about the game is the sound effects related to combat. There aren't too many of them basically. Somewhere along the way I upgraded my weapon to lightning. From thereon every hit I landed produced a KRRSHHTTT. It was the same KRRSHHTTT over and over and over. It was bearable, but a bit of variety certainly would've been welcome.

Downsides
Despite all the praise, the game has its downsides.

  • The Camera is beyond abysmal. I am a very patient man and never before have I complained about the camera in any game, but Dark Souls has done it. As far as I am aware, this is worst camera to exist in any AAA fully released game. Using a controller certainly improves the experience, but it remains terrible. The worst of it shows during the boss fights where you need it the most. locking on to mobile bosses will quickly make you lose control of your character, especially when they're directly above you.
  • The game's latter half is a little bit rushed. After Anor Londo the difficulty level seems to dip a bit. Many of the boss fights seem more gimmicky and comparatively anti-climactic. The experience is still fantastic, just of slightly lower quality than the first half of the game.
  • Certain things are just TOO far-fetched, vague, misleading or straight up lies. For example there is a ring which grants health regeneration, but doesn't actually dot. It just increase your HP by a tiny bit. Another prime example is Snuggly the Crow. An invisible bird NPC you can trade with by dropping items in his nest and reloading the game....
  • There is the occasional nasty fight that leaves some things out of your control. For example you must take fall damage to enter a room, stuff like that. It's a blight upon a game that otherwise manages to maintain its difficulty level so well without handicaps.

Conclusions:
Dark souls is a nasty port, but an absolute must-play game for what it brings to the table. It's an experience unlike any other. Much like mandatory literature, it might not be to everyone's tastes, but it's the kind of experience that builds perspective and makes you grow as a human.

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Day[9] wrote:
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- Day[9] Daily 337 -


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