Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2011 Holiday Must Have Games

Holiday Must Haves by Gamezelot

If you're like me, there are always several games around the holidays on my must have list. Well, this season is no different. There are a several titles heading to the stores this holiday season and here are the Gamezelot picks (in order of expected lowest to highest ratings).

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
  • Darksiders II
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic (MMO)
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • The Darkness II
  • Bioshock: Infinite
  • Mass Effect 3
  • Gears of War 3
  • Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Assassin's Creed Revelations
  • The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
Of all of the most anticipated games for the 2011 Holiday season, I expect Skyrim to be not only the best game, but may even win Game of the Year. Many of these games are offering special editions, so if you want the extra chachke included, then you'll want to reserve your special editions now.

In addition, here are a few games to watch. These are not here as must-haves, but are simply here in that they are new or revamped franchises and may become sleeper hits.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • Rage
  • Tomb Raider
Enjoy and reserve early if you want the special editions.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Xbox 360 - F.3.A.R

F.3.A.R by WBGames / Day 1 Studios

Type: First Person Shooter
Save Type: Checkpoint

Even though this game (and franchise) is named FEAR, there's really nothing very scary in this game. Yes, there are things that occasionally jump out at you. Most of what is 'scary' here is more the gore factor. There's lots of simulated blood, guts and dead bodies. I have found games like The Darkness, Dead Space 1, Dead Space 2, Chronicles of Riddick and Alan Wake to be more creepy and scary than F.3.A.R (especially Dead Space 2).

F.3.A.R (aka. Fear 3) is a first person shooter that's pretty straightforward. Although this game pulls in some things from F.E.A.R. 2, it doesn't really do it quite as well. At least the game isn't coming from EA, which I know would have ruined the franchise. That said, this franchise is really on its last legs anyway. How many times can you pull the let's-chase-Alma-all-over-hell's-half-acre gameplay?


F.3.A.R starts you off as one of two brothers. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that you killed your brother and he's trying to help you get through the game (even in spite of the fact that your character killed him). Yeah, I didn't quite get this part either. While it appears he seems to know what's going on, he doesn't really help you through the game as he only appears during Cinematics and through an occasional voiceover.

You start out roaming each level in search of what's ultimately going on. At first, you're trying to escape a prison. So, you're trying to get out before it explodes and, at the same time, avoid the guards trying to kill you.

Later, you run into various types of zombies that also try to kill you. Some zombies have bombs attached to themselves and they get close and explode, other zombies carry hammers, tire irons or other melee weapons and still others lob projectiles from a distance. Further on, you run into both guards and zombies at the same time.

Finally, there's this creature thing that appears and occasionally sucks you into an alternative reality that shows you things like kids playground rides, baby carriages and other kid related visuals. When the monster presents, you see a halo of black webbing around the edge of the screen. Of course, the game wouldn't be complete without an alternative reality at play. After all, Alma is a ghost.


The gameplay is about standard for a first person shooter. Nothing outstanding or out of the ordinary here. The controller is mapped appropriately (for the most part). The only thing that's troublesome is when you press B for cover. Two problems with cover. First, when you press B to move into cover, the game moves you into a position that can be seen (so you immediately start taking gunfire hits). Second, you can't kneel and be in cover at the same time. Both of these problems reduce the benefits of cover.

Most of the game revolves around protecting yourself from being killed, finding weapons and ammo, finding psychic links on dead bodies, locating Alma dolls and progressing from level to level.


In F.3.A.R, they haven't improved the graphics over F.E.A.R 2. That's not to say the graphics look bad. They look slightly above average for this type of game. But, there's nothing new to add wow factor to this game.


There are some audio issues here. Some of the cinematics volumes are very low requiring you to turn the volume up to hear it. Then, when the game starts up again it just about blasts you out of the room. This may have been in purpose, but it's really a bad bad design.


This game is fairly one-tracked much like F.E.A.R. 2. Although, when you do get to use the power armor, it's a really small trek and there's not much to it. Rather disappointing actually. The small arms weapons are also straightforward. Ammo is reasonably abundant on levels where you don't need it, but becomes kind of scarce when you do need it. There are also several types of grenades.

One of the main problems I have with this game is that enemies have perfect vision and perfect aim. This means that they'll hit you immediately when they 'see' you and, worse, they will sometimes see you when you can't even see them. So, this game could have done with some work here. Overall, there's nothing outstanding in F.3.A.R. It's an average first person shooter with an okay story. The atmosphere in the game works, but the tricks to try and scare you are way too cliche at this point.

  • Sound: 4/10 (sound problems)
  • Graphics: 7/10
  • Gameplay: 6/10 (enemies have perfect vision and perfect aim)
  • Story: 6/10 (been there, done that)
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 8/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 1/10
  • Play Value: $4
  • Overall: 5/10 (nothing outstanding, no wow factor, nothing new)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Xbox 360 - The First Templar

The First Templar by Kalypso

Type: Third Person Sword Combat
Save Type: Checkpoint

I've been torn about writing a review for this game. I tend to write reviews based on at least some redeeming quality. Unfortunately, I haven't really been able to find many redeeming qualities in The First Templar. I will say that based on the title, this game may appear related to Assassin's Creed. It has nothing to do with Assassin's Creed in any form at all. That said, here's the review.


Actually, I'm really pretty lost with the story here. Basically, you're two Templar Knights (at least in the beginning) wandering the countryside in search of something. I haven't yet determined what that 'something' is nor am I curious enough to really go find out.

As a story author, you really need to make it clear what your player characters are all about and what their motivations are. Just as any good story, this setup is crucial to making a compelling story and a compelling game. Otherwise, the gamer will simply skip all of the setup just to jump into the gaming (as I did with this game).


You're a team of two. You can switch between the characters at will (bumper button). Each character has his/her own health bar, experience, armor, weapons and power ups. So, you get to level up your characters separately.

The game tries to be a dungeon crawler, but doesn't really do much of this. Most of the game is pointless little diversions. For example, you have to mount a trebuchet and lob rocks at the enemy. You do this several times. In fact, this part gets a little tedious after the third time. It was actually kind of fun the first time. But, not after the third time. Or, you might be tasked to break down doors and rescue the inhabitants from being burned to death.


Mostly, however, this is a fighting game. You just go in with your sword and use combos to kick butt and take names later. The game likes to throw wave after wave of enemy soldiers at you, so you need to make sure to spend those eXPerience points to expand your health capacity and get better combos.

Leveling Up

To level up, you click the back button and this opens up the level up screen. You can level up your player character right from this screen. There is a very large amount of things you can buy to level up your characters. So, there was a fair amount of thought put into this part of the game. Unfortunately, the rest of the game doesn't really support this level up detail. It's rare that a game company can get all of the pieces of a game to work together cohesively. So far, Bethesda is about the only company who has been able to accomplish it with both Fallout 3 and Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.


The controls are a bit on the overly sensitive side (specifically the camera). However, this doesn't really hamper the game from working once you're used to it. The control mapping is okay, but I would have preferred something a little more standard.


The audio works, but not outstanding. The voiceovers aren't bad, but the facial animation is rather weak. The music works, but isn't enough that I would run out and buy the soundtrack. At times, the music can be a little repetitive.


Average. The designers decided to use in-game rather than pre-rendered cinematics (by moving the camera close to the game characters) for the transition scenes. While this can sometimes work, it doesn't work for this game. And, unfortunately, it doesn't help make this game any better. The oddness here, additionally, is that the designers decided to overuse the left and right sound effects. So, the voices come out almost entirely left or right when the characters are speaking. Again, while this can sometimes work, it's just odd here.

The textures, lighting and environments are mostly underwhelming. The only exception to this are the Templar outfits. They are actually well done and very detailed. Some of the environments look good, but even as good as they look in places there's so few things that you can interact with in-world that it's mostly a waste.


Some of this game can be fun. However, most of it is tedious. After you've done the Trebuchet twice, you're kind of tired of it. So, you really don't relish the thought of doing it again. Yet, you do. This game could have been far better if it had tried to do more with the characters and turned it more into an exploring game rather than a fighting game. Rent this one.

  • Sound: 7/10
  • Graphics: 5/10
  • Gameplay: 5/10
  • Story: 4/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 5/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 1/10
  • Play Value: $5
  • Overall: 4.5/10

Monday, June 13, 2011

Coming Holiday 2012

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a video worth? Without further ado...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Xbox 360 - Hunted: The Demon's Forge

Hunted: The Demon's Forge by Bethesda

Type: Third Person Co-Op Shooter
Save Type: Checkpoint

Hunted: The Demon's Forge is a third person co-op campaign shooter with the second player character played by AI. You can switch between the characters only when you reach certain portals. This is a checkpoint save based game. The trouble with this game isn't the AI or the game itself, it's the graphics. In a word, horrible. If you like game throwbacks to the late 90's (ala Xbox original quality), then you'll probably like this game. If not, you should probably rent this first.


You are a team of two (a human man and an elf.. at least, I think she's an elf). Anyway, you're roaming the countryside when you come upon a woman who appears out of a time distortion portal. She tells you you need to collect death stones and give them to her to gain the power to defeat the enemy. Well, you can see where this is heading. So, you give her the stones and you're taken to a level up menu to equip yourself better (both in spells and in combat).


The controls are a bit overly sensitive, so the tiniest camera movement moves the screen around almost instantly. Other than the sensitivity issue, HDF plays pretty much like any other action third person shooter. You roam the level, kill lots of creatures (skeletons and other dead-ish looking creatures) and collect gold and crystals to buy upgrades. In addition to the standard fare of killing the undead, you are given a bow to shoot at ropes and chains to free people or smash things. As you smash things, like doors, you can enter rooms to gain new weapons or other goodies.

The downside to this game is there's very little to do other than kill, smash and collect. So, don't go into this game thinking you're going to get a very deep gaming experience. No, treat this game as it is, light gaming fare.


This is where this game gets its absolute lowest marks. The graphics look no better than a Wii game (and, in some cases) worse. Specifically, the environments look okay, but the characters look amazingly bad. The textures are low res, the movements are strange and the mouths might as well not move at all. The weapons work well enough, but there's just not much here to brag about with the graphics. If you want a much higher res gaming experience, then get Gears of War, Halo 2 or Modern Warfare. These are high quality games given the professional graphics touch. Hunted: The Demon's Forge is so poorly done graphically, I'm surprised Bethesda would even want to release this thing.


Even though one of the main voice overs is Lucy Lawless, this game doesn't benefit from her work here. The graphics rendering quality is so bad on the characters, even the voice overs don't help.


This game needs a lot more development time to polish the graphics. In fact, this game looks even worse than Two Worlds and Two Worlds II. Yes, it looks that bad. The game plays better than Two Worlds, though.

Again, this is another disappointing title from Bethesda. It's unusual for Bethesda Softworks to release such underwhelming titles as Brink and now Hunted: The Demon's Forge. However, if you like throwbacks to the 90's, you might enjoy this style of game (ignoring the poor quality graphics, of course). I'm personally not thrilled with AI based forced co-op play. So, this play style doesn't get high marks from me.

This is not a title you're going to play for a long time anyway. So, I'd recommend renting over buying this one. Stick with Redbox or Gamefly to find this game. Don't spend full price.

  • Sound: 6/10
  • Graphics: 3.5/10 (amazingly bad character graphics)
  • Gameplay: 7/10
  • Story: 6/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 8.5/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 1/10
  • Play Value: $5 (rent this one)
  • Overall: 4/10 (too much of a throwback, game too straightforward, poor graphics)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Xbox 360 - L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire by Rockstar

I usually like Rockstar games that are even somewhat based on the Grand Theft Auto engine. However, in L.A. Noire's case, I need to make an exception.


You're a soldier turned beat cop in Los Angeles (Cole Phelps) who must solve crimes to move up through the police force ranks (i.e. Beat Cop then Rookie Detective to Detective.. etc). So, as you solve more crimes, you progress through through the ranks of the police force.

At first, you think the story is leading somewhere because you are progressing through the ranks of detective. Yet, your player character (beat cop turned detective) makes an unexpected choice about 3/4 of the way through the game which you have no control over. At first, I thought the choice was something you could control. But, you can't. Worse, it's a questionable moral (and career breaking) choice that just makes no sense. I'm guessing they included this part to put you onto the Arson desk (which is apparently a demotion).

At first, I thought the the choice was part of a bigger cover to entrap the dirty cops in the department into revealing their identities. No, it isn't. Then, at the very end, your player character inexplicably dies.

Before Cole Phelps dies, though, your player character basically enrolls a former army buddy turned life insurance investigator unknowingly into playing detective (though he's not a cop). This puts his life in danger while you now play the game as this character. Which is odd that Rockstar decided to switch your player character here. Anyway, after that, thew new character loses his job from the life insurance company and is courted by the DA to become investigator to uncover all the dirty cops. So, all the way through the game, you're playing as Cole Phelps, but now you are inexplicably playing as a new character.

Also, all throughout the game between each level, you see flashbacks of military actions that have nothing to do with the actual gameplay. It was inevitable that they would roll it together at the end, and they somewhat did in the final scenes of the game. But, there were so many dirty cops left that the ending felt hollow and unsatisfying, especially considering the outcome of Cole Phelps.

Basically, the story is convoluted and disjointed. The ending wraps up one thing, but not the entire game. It also doesn't exonerate Cole Phelps in any way.


Witness Interviews and Interrogations

Here's where the game has failed on two fronts. First, the interview process. As you work through clues while interviewing your witnesses, you have three selections to choose during the interview: Accept the statement as Truth (A), Doubt what they are saying (B) and Tell them they are lying (C). If you decide they are lying, then you have to substantiate it with a piece of evidence. Once you make a choice, you don't know if you have chosen correctly until you finish the interview.

And here's where the first failure lies. If you choose a wrong answer type to the witness statements and you want to try to get all of the answers perfect, you have to completely restart the entire assignment from scratch if you choose 'restart'. That could mean playing another 20 minutes gathering clues, visiting other places, etc to get to the point where the witness line of questioning is. The checkpoints are too far between when you start a level and line of questions. This is, at best, frustrating. I should be able to start over just the line of questioning, not the whole level.

I have found that instead of using 'Restart' on the menu, that you should quit the game right where you are. Don't use restart, just quit to the main menu. When you restart, it will start from the most recent game save and you don't have to restart the entire level. Instead, Rockstar should have made it so that if you choose 'restart' that it goes back to the last save rather than the beginning of the entire assignment.


The second failure is driving around the city. Clearly in Grand Theft Auto, driving around is a big part playing the game. In L.A. Noire, there is absolutely no point to driving at all, unless you count the pointless street crimes which are mostly worthless. Worse, in most cases, when you hit vehicles, things or people, the game basically penalizes you for doing so. So, there's really no fun in driving inside this game. That said, they do offer to let your companion drive which skips the tedious driving scenes. The only real need to drive is for the side missions (when a call comes in over the radio). Otherwise, it's rather pointless to drive.

After the game ends, you can free roam on each level to gather what amounts of small things there are left to get. Frankly, there's really no fun in it. It's much more fun to take diversions during the stories to get things. Doing it all after the game is over is really no fun. Once I've played the story element all the way through, I don't really feel that I want to explore the rest of the game.

Investigating crime scenes

At crime scenes, you are tasked to locate clues. Unfortunately, the game directs you to the clues using queued music and controller shaking. So, when you're on top of a clue it shakes the controller and plays a piano ditty. On top of this, there's an overall music score that plays as long as clues are available. Unfortunately, this part is so directed that you basically can't miss any clues... especially if you use intuition points. Also, the only thing that clues help you is to nail lies during the evidence phase of catching people in a lie.

Locating suspects

Yet another gameplay problem ends up as chasing suspects (either in a car or on foot). Inevitably, one of the two outcomes after finding a suspect is that they run either by car or on foot. So, you're tasked to chase them down. The main problem I have with this part of LA Noire is that it seems to do it with EVERY suspect. Not only is it just unrealistic, it's just stupid to think that every suspect would run. Worse, it seems that the suspects can run far faster than Phelps in every instance (including the fat ones). Catching running suspects is just an exercise in futility. I'd rather just shoot them and be done with it. Worse, though, it only takes two shots (or in some cases one shot) to kill the suspect. So, you can't do that.

If you're doing a car chase, again, their car is far faster than yours. So, you're always just one step behind. Trying to push the car off the road is near impossible. Trying to ram the car doesn't work and while you're driving you can't shoot. So, you just have to chase them until they run themselves off the road (which they will eventually do).

The chases are incredibly stupid, not fun and border on the edge of tedium.. especially after having done it more than twice. If there were an easy way to push the suspect off the road fast, I'd be all over this part. But, there isn't. Instead, the game would have been far more fun to just skip past the chase scenes from the outset and get right to the capture of the suspect which is going to happy anyway.


The one thing that is the most stunning of this game is the facial animations. Rockstar has raised the bar with facial graphics animation. So, instead of trying to animate a mesh by stilted mechanics, they capture facial motions using cameras and apply it right to the mesh. I think I understand what they used to accomplish how it looks, and it is mostly amazing. The trouble isn't the facial features, it's the stilted body movements that make the character animation weak. Part of the reason is that they captured the facial animations separately from the body motions. So, when putting these separate elements together, the walking and talking animations still seem stilted and unnatural.


Nothing spectacular here as for music or voiceover work. It's definitely serviceable. The soundtracks are mostly from the 40s, though. As far as other incidental music, there's not much. Worse, you can't even change the radio station when driving around in the vehicles. Note that what makes the voiceovers work is not the voiceover itself, it's the facial animation.


I was hoping for more from this game, but the two failures mentioned above dampened me about this game. Even though they do allow you to skip the driving (most times) by having the partner drive, it's still doesn't really resolve the driving issues. When you do have to drive, it's just wasted.

The cases are ok, but mostly boring. Examining the scenes for clues is almost exactly the same in each case. There's nothing surprising. It would have been more fun to find clues randomly at later parts of the game. Someone throws a gun into a bay and in a later crime you happen to find the gun from a previous case, as an example. The cases are far too cut and dried.

The game is somewhat fun to play. But, playing as a cop has major hurdles that Rockstar wasn't able to overcome. That is, being able to run over pedestrians and things. The cases are far too directed with no free roaming aspects until AFTER the game has completed.

  • Sound: 6/10
  • Graphics: 9.5/10
  • Gameplay: 6/10
  • Story: 6/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 8.5/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 4/10
  • Play Value: $12 (not as fun as GTA)
  • Overall: 6/10 (some good parts, not nearly as fun as GTA, too directed, too many chases)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Xbox 360 - Portal 2

Portal 2 by Valve

Portal 2 is the follow up to Portal. Portal is available through the Orange Box game set or via download on Xbox Live. Obviously, it's also available on other platforms (both Portal 1 and Portal 2).


Mini-review. Portal starts as a unique and fresh take on a shooter. Instead of being a straight first person shooter, it turns the gun into a portal creation device. So, you run around in 'test' chambers creating portals and then running through them to get to other places in the room without walking. So, you can create an orange and blue portal. This creates two doors linked together.

Portals are like mini-rifts in the time fabric that let you walk through the portal and enter one place and exit wherever the other doorway is. Portals can be created on floors, ceilings, walls or wherever a portal surface is. Portals can only be created on special surfaces. Some surfaces cannot create portals (like metal).

In the first Portal, you were a test subject thrown into a series of test rooms to test out the portals and whether you could solve the puzzles using the portal guns. In among all of the tests there are motion sensing shooting robots, a quirky and somewhat insane robotic female computer along with other traps that could kill or maim you. At the end of Portal, your character ends up shutting down the main insane female computer to prevent it from becoming more insane (and, of course, to escape).

To solve many of the puzzles, you are tasked with dropping down long drops into created portals to fling yourself across the room using momentum.

Score for Portal: 8.5/10.

Portal 2 -- story

Portal started this whole new genre of puzzle shooters. This is a unique game with an odd twist on a shooter. It's fresh and unique and sits in its own unique place in the gaming world. Hello other developers, you might want to take notice.

Portal 2 continues with where Portal ended. It's not exactly clear how you get there, but you are now many years in the future. So, you start off with a somewhat odd flying eye bot with a male British or Aussie accent. This bot leads you back into the test chambers again where, eventually, you awaken the insane female robot computer from the first Portal. Now that she's awake, she begins testing you again with various rooms and new trials. Except, now this eye bot is helping you along and the female computer is now seeking revenge (even though she says she isn't). So, you meet up with the insane female robot computer again and things take a turn when you disconnect her and connect up the eye bot to the mainframe. So, now the eye bot is in charge and the insane female robot computer gets shoved into a potato.

As you carry the potato around, she talks to you trying to devise a way to get herself back into the mainframe and get the eye bot out. Worse, the eye bot doesn't seem to understand the system at all and is now leading the entire test facility towards destruction.

So, you are now tasked to work your way back up from the very earliest levels of the facility to the most recent and to the chamber with the eye bot. And, there are some new things you need to do along the way.

Liquid blobs and flinging

As you progress, you will run into holes dropping various colored paint blobs. These liquids do various things. The orange liquid is very slick and makes you slide. The blue liquid makes you bounce. The white liquid lets you 'paint' surfaces to create portals. The clear liquid washes any of it off. The liquids can also be dropped onto things to disturb them (like robots).

Now instead of just trying to figure out how to get out of the room with portals and momentum, you have to use the liquids creatively to coat surfaces. This allows you to create speed and momentum to jump through portals to fling yourself across the room onto a ledge or some other surface. You are tasked with figuring out which surfaces to coat.


The story is mostly reasonable. It takes place many years after the first incident. But, the robot says she doesn't hold a grudge, although it's quite clear she does. Note that the insane female robot computer has some of the best lines in this game (including Portal) and they all happen during the first few test chambers. After she becomes a potato, the one-line zingers basically stop.


This game relies almost entirely on humor to carry it. While the puzzles can be challenging, it's really the female robotic computer voice that makes this game. Unfortunately, the eye bot is not so much that way. His British or Australian accent is annoying and his lines aren't funny at all. It's a good thing that he disappears for a good bit of this game, otherwise this game wouldn't be nearly as much fun to play.


This is a good follow-up to Portal. The game is nearly as fun as the first. Portal 2 is a unique game much in the same way as Portal. The only one downside is that I was expecting the campaign to be a lot longer. Instead, the game requires co-op play to get more fun out of it. When you play co-op, though, you play as two robots rather than as the female in the first Portal.

I would also have preferred a completely different character and a different approach to the Portal gun. I was hoping to see more than the test facility, but that's where we're still stuck.

  • Sound: 9/10
  • Graphics: 8/10
  • Gameplay: 7/10
  • Story: 9/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 9/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 5/10
  • Play Value: $30 (if you like puzzle games, worth buying)
  • Overall: 8.5/10 (a good follow up to Portal)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Xbox 360 - Brink

Brink by id / Bethesda Softworks

I used to like most Bethesda titles, that is until Bethesda bought id. Now, I'm not so thrilled by the Bethesda's new id games. Unfortunately, this game is not what it could have been. It's really mostly a waste and definitely not worth the $60 that it costs.

Because this game is not very compelling and definitely not something you'd want to play over and over for a long gaming experience, I'll make this review short and to the point.

id games

Way back when, Doom was all the rage. It had some cool new things that hadn't been done in gaming before. Now, it's all been-there-done-that. With Brink, unfortunately , it's all too familiar.

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars Clone

Unfortunately, Brink is just a clone of Quake Wars. Quake Wars is a team based objective play first person shooter. Brink is just a rehash of that. If you enjoyed Enemy Territory, you might enjoy Brink assuming you like to play games you've already played before. Otherwise, it's a been-there-done-that moment. Frankly, the campaign part is not very exciting. If you enjoy games where you're constantly being shot and killed by random enemies from all over the place while trying to accomplish a task, then this is the game for you.

On the other hand, if you're looking for something deeper and fresh with a real story involved, this isn't it. It's far too much like other team oriented objective play games.


In Brink, it's actually quite hard to distinguish the enemies from the friendlies. So, you're constantly shooting at the wrong people. Worse, you can't even tell that you're doing it. So, it's really badly designed from this perspective.

And it gets worse. There's an annoying Jamaican announcer who's constantly blurting useless information out throughout the entire level. That useless information being constant updates on things that don't even matter to what you're currently trying to do. It's like, "shut-the-f-up. I'm trying to play here."


Well, once again a game developer decides to break the rules with the controller. See 'Messing with a good thing'. Anyway, they mapped reloading the weapon to the left stick button press. Looking at any other first person shooter, who does this? Get with the program id.


What armor? The only thing you get is basically nothing. Two shots and you're incapacitated and you have to spawn again. Worse, all of the XP you gain only gets you cosmetic appearance armor. It doesn't give you any real armor to help increase how many shots you can take. No, you have to get other 'points' to buy armor. Worthless system.


A disappointing romp not worthy of the $60. Perhaps if you enjoy lots of multiplayer action and being constantly shot at while trying to obtain your objectives, you might like this. Instead, for team based play, I'd prefer something like Star Wars: Republic Commando where you actually direct your team members to actual strategic locations and use their skills to handle specific tasks along the way. That's what I want to play.

What I don't want to play are clones of previous games that weren't really very good the first time around. Oh well, maybe id will get their next game right. Maybe not. Although, I won't be buying into many of these id titles unless they are a lot stronger than Brink.

Do yourself a favor, rent Brink first. If, after you've rented it, you actually like the title, then you might consider buying it. But, you can probably get through the game long before the rental period is over. However, if you've already played Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, then you've already played Brink. So, do yourself (and your wallet) a favor and skip this wannabe clone.

  • Sound: 8/10
  • Graphics: 7/10
  • Gameplay: 4/10 (average shooter)
  • Story: 4/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 6/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 1/10
  • Play Value: $5 (rent first, then buy)
  • Overall: 4.5/10 (poor gameplay, average graphics, poor characters)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Xbox 360 - Crysis 2

Crysis 2 by Crytek / EA

Format: First Person Shooter
Save Type: Checkpoint only
Rating: Mature

Ever since I'd heard about the Cryengine 3's 'fabulous' rendering capabilities, I'd been anxious to play a game that actually uses this engine on a console. Well, Crysis 2 is finally here. Unfortunately, it's not everything it's cracked up to be. Oh, it's definitely better than many game engines, but I'd say that it's not that much better than the engine driving Halo 3, Gears of War or even what is driving Bioshock.


Ok, so let's start out with the best part first. The graphics are very very good, but are by no means perfect. I was actually expecting a lot more out of Cryengine 3. The shadows of objects on the ground is fairly well done. The edges are 'softer' by using very small dots rather than big block to create the shadows. So, while the shadows are better than what's in Halo 3, it's not that much better because the shadows are kind of flickery. Specularity is good, but not great. Sunlight color appears natural.

Although, there are some other problems with the shadow system, too. A big feature of the Nanosuit is that it can be cloaked. However, even though the suit is cloaked, the shadow is still fully dark on the ground. If light were truly penetrating through a transparent surface, the shadow would also become much more faint. This is an issue that should have been addressed and wasn't. So, either the Cryengine 3 doesn't manage this properly or the coders didn't write it correctly. Either way, the shadow needs to reflect the cloaking. Seriously, if there was a solid shadow on the ground moving around, you'd definitely know something was cloaked.


The person operating a Nanosuit (armored biosuit), Prophet, is just about spent due to the suit's symbiotic relationship. So, just as he is about to die, a wounded soldier (you) happens upon him. He takes the opportunity to shed the suit onto you and then he kills himself to sever the link to the symbiote so the suit will accept you as the new host. That's where the story begins.

As you progress, the suit gains strength (and points) from the hard-to-kill alien DNA. As you kill more aliens, you gain more DNA from them. So, it enhances the suit's capabilities.


This game's physics system is a bit on the weak side. When you kill an enemy, the enemy falls to the ground and stops in an unnatural way... sometimes with their arms or legs straight up in the air. Also, when bullets penetrate a surface, it does nothing to the surface (it doesn't leave a mark, yet the bullets sometimes do hit you). If you're going to spend this much time on realism, please add these small details that really make it seem real. Basically, the physics system should have been tested better.

Bugs as a result of physics

There are times as you are playing where the enemies will randomly kill themselves. I've seen this happen several times. In one case, it was an enemy soldier. He was jumping through a window. The move seemed to work going through the window once. On return jump through the window, the character seemed to get caught on the window frame and then he becomes a projectile who then flies across the room and dies.

The second time I had this happen with a soldier, it was on a level where you are tasked to sneak across an island and disable the power grid. In this case, there is a round staircase that leads to a lookout post. Under certain specific timing conditions, the soldier at the top will do something and then die as a result of some physics glitch. The issue with this particular glitch is that it will trigger your presence if this soldier doesn't respond to a request for status. If he doesn't respond, then the soldiers become alerted to your presence even though you had nothing to do with that soldier's death.

I've also seen this physics bug manifest with the Seth aliens as well, but not as a show stopper as above.


The gameplay is about standard for a first person shooter. You have mostly one-handed weapons that fire a variety of projectiles (bullets, missiles) as well as grenades and C4 explosives. Nothing spectacular here with regards to these weapons. I was hoping for more, but no. The weapons don't even have much in the way of cool factor. But, that goes back to another issue which I'll discuss further down in this review.

As you progress through the levels, you find alien DNA (as you kill each alien) that acts as points to buy upgrades.


Crysis 2 heavily borrows its look and layouts of some interior and exterior environments from games such as Enslaved, Half Life, Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST, The Darkness, Fallout 3 and F.E.A.R. On the one hand, the environments are familiar, on the other it's a bit too familiar. Whether this was intended as an ode to these games or simply cutting corners is not known. What is certain, I would have preferred to see more original layouts.


Repetition here is the key. Once you see the bosses, this is what you have to beat over and over. The AT-ST style walker, which is a nod to Star Wars, is a bit annoying once you understand what you need to do. It's also highly annoying that the bosses always 'see' you whether or not you're cloaked. However, if you get far enough out of their sight box, they will then focus on other threats and leave you alone. That is, until you fire a single bullet. Then they 'see' you again and immediately come after you. So, killing the bosses takes far too long to do as mostly you're just trying to avoid being shot up. This is not challenging, but it is frustrating.


There are times where the controls and collision detection severely lag. It is especially bad when you're in a battle doing melee hits. So, you know that you've hit and killed the enemy (it has fallen to the ground dead), yet the enemy manages to get one last damage hit into you long after it has hit the ground dead. So, you're standing over the dead alien body and you're being hit by some phantom projectile. In one case, it was enough to kill my character. This is extremely frustrating and enough for me to put this game down. But, I'll work my way through it only because I'm about halfway through this so far.

The first time this phantom projectile happened to me, I thought there was another alien somewhere close hitting me. Yet, I've looked around and there wasn't another on the level. So, the game is definitely glitchy here.


The sound is average. Nothing spectacular here, but noting horribly wrong either.


The upside to this game is that the environments are mostly very polished and look great. The 3D look appears solid and has a realistic feel, until you get up close. Then everything breaks down. This game does not use levels of detail for up close viewing. So, if you get close to a sign, everything is extremely pixelated and barely legible. So, this is a disappointment in what should arguably be one of the best looking game engines out there.

The fact that Crytek chose this game to be a first person shooter makes the whole idea of the superb graphics combined with the Nanosuit a frustrating experience. Here you are in this cool looking Nanosuit, yet you get to see only one arm in the view window the entire game. The game never pans away from the suit so you can see the whole suit from a different vantage point. It doesn't even do this in cinematics. This is very disappointing. Since the game is all about the suit, this game should have been a third person shooter (or toggle between first and third) so you get to see the suit.

Unfortunately, this is a drab and uninspired first person shooter wrapped in a nice looking package. The problem is, the developers spent so much time making the graphics engine look good, they forgot all about the gameplay, the physics and the motion capture. So, the characters move in odd stilted ways and the physics of the game is, at times, bad (weights are off, characters don't fall down dead believably, etc). Crytek now needs to take time to mature the physics and collision detection engines. They need to spend as much time on these as they have on the rendering engine. Only then will this game engine rival those of other game campanies.


  • Sound: 8/10
  • Graphics: 9.5/10
  • Gameplay: 5/10 (average shooter)
  • Story: 6/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 6/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 2/10
  • Play Value: $20 (rent first, then buy)
  • Overall: 5.5/10 (average gameplay overshadows excellent graphics)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Xbox 360 - Dragon Age II

Dragon Age II by Bioware / EA

In November 2009, Gamezelot reviewed Dragon Age Origins (DAO). Gamezelot gave this game a 6.5 out of 10 rating. It was, by no means, a perfect game. It has its moments, but it also has it share of problems. Fast forward to today. Dragon Age II is now out.. so how is it?

Starting out

The game starts out by allowing you to choose your character's class. While you are stuck being human, you can choose to be a mage, warrior or rogue class (male or female). After choosing the class, you can then choose your cosmetic appearance (mostly facial features). You can't choose a body shape, though. Also, even though there are Dalish, Dwarves and Elves in the game, you cannot choose one of these as your race. You are stuck as human only.


The story picks up pretty much where Dragon Age Origins leaves off. So, you're still running around killing Darkspawn. It almost seems, though, that they ignored the story in Awakenings, but that was more of a side game anyway. So, after battling a bunch of Darkspawn and confronting a Dragon, you're out of Ferelden and off to another city by boat.
The beginning of the story is a bit convoluted and starts out twice, actually. Once, it starts as a fanciful tale and then the person listening doesn't like what she hears and asks the storyteller to tell her the 'real' story. So, he backtracks and tells it all over again. During the storytelling phase, you get to play the game in certain parts to get you familiar with the gameplay as a small tutorial. Unfortunately, that really fails for new users. You really must be familiar with Dragon Age Origins already to understand the controls and the game play. So, if you're new to this game, you might want to read the manual first.

When you arrive at the city gates, your envoy is kept out of the city because there are already too many people trying to immigrate there. So, your first quests are one of two different and you can choose which one to do. The first quest choice is to kill someone as a favor. They will then get you into the city. The second choice is to retrieve money from a local shopkeeper. Either one you choose, you'll get into the city. The easier one, of course, is the one that doesn't involve combat. I'm not sure exactly how it shapes your character overall, but the choices may change how the story progresses. I do know that you will receive individual Xbox achievements for doing each of them. So, save your game right before you choose. You can then do one, get your achievement, save, then load and then do the second and receive that achievement. When you find quests that allow you to do one of two things, save and attempt both because you'll likely get Xbox achievements.

Once in the city, you get access to the map and you can roam the city looking for battles and loot, primarily loot.

Menu System

The interface to the system is still lackluster. To get to the journal (your quest list), you need to press the Start button on the controller. This lea ds to the main menu. Unfortunately, this menu is the wrong place for the the journal. The system needs its own place that's separate for this task and single button press that brings up the top level inventory (to change armor or weapons) rather than multiple button presses Start->Controller Right->A Button. Then B twice t o back out of it all. No, it should be a simple one click in and one click out. When will game designers learn this?

When you click the left trigger controller, it does bring up the fast select menu so you can get to consumables and spells easier. But, you still have to go through the main menu to get to everything else.

Yes, you can map the potion to an easy access key, but getting to them through the main menu method is slow, tedious, interrupting.. and is an incredibly bad design. The only way to get to the journal (and the quests) is through the main menu even though the right trigger allows for easier access to some things.


The gameplay hasn't improved much over DAO. That said, the graphics have improved by a lot. In fact, it looks like the designers have used the Mass Effect 2 engine to drive Dragon Age II. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn't always work in all cases. For example, the menu system above. Also, the talking system is jus t as annoying as Mass Effect II. That is, you have no idea which response will lead to a positive or negative outcome. However, the skin surface textures on the characters are much better than DAO. So, there's pluses and minuses.

However, even though the graphics have changed by a lot, the gameplay itself hasn't. The problems that plagued DAO still plague this title. Na mely, that your main character is extremely weak against opponents. Not so much individual opponents, but that the game constantly throws many opponents at you all at once. However, unlike DAO, where you start with yourself and add characters along the way, Dragon Age II gives you four people in your group right up front. So, your group is a lot stronger than when you start out in DAO. Even still, that doesn't resolve the issue. The game throws exceedingly strong characters at the group which makes it difficult to complete a battle with all four of your team still standing. In fact, you usually have one character left and you have to run them all over the game board just to keep from being pounded to death (and give enough time to drink potions).

This also means, save early and save often. If you don't and all characters in your party die, the game is over.


This is a sore spot with me here. The battles are all real-time, although that isn't the issue. The issue, as mentioned above, the game throws a large number of mid to higher level opponents at you at a time when they should be far easier than they are. Yes, I could move the mode to 'Casual', but in the beginning, the game shouldn't se nd this high level opponents at you anyway.. and especially at 3-4 times the amount in your party. Worse, it keeps spawning them over and over with more and more.

But, here's the stupid part. Running around the city, people and guards are standing around. So, you are battling right in front of a city guard who stands there motionless. Seriously bad. Every other game would have had the guards join right in and either help you or help the opponent. Either way, the guards need to join in and bystanders need to run away. Where was the thought and design behind this?

The questing is much the same as DAO. It's improved slightly, but not much. The quests names appear briefly on the screen and then go into your 'Journal'. Although, the journal is more easily laid out from DAO, it's still hard to determine where you need to be to complete a quest. Unlike Fallout 3 that lets you pick the location where
you need to be next, Dragon Age II still doesn't seem do this easily.

Sparse Cities and Loot

While wandering around the cities, you'll notice there are tons of buildings and lots of doors. Yet, none of the doors can be opened. In fact, when you wander the cities in search of treasure, there's very little anywhere. Even after a battle in DAO
, there would be a lot of dead bodies with loot (probably at least half or more of the enemies). In DA2, you might kill 20 enemies and end up with 2 bodies with loot.

For creating such a detailed environment, there's really very little to do in them. It's sad that game developers are producing such detailed environments and so drastically under use them. I just don't get this part of game development. If you add a door to a building, plan to allow the gamer to use it. Don't create buildings with doors that don't open.


The map is pretty much worthless. In fact, it's not really a map at all. It's more a poster on the wall with destination points. So, you really have no idea the relationship between one city and another. I'd rather have a real map that shows me the landscape, terrain and where I'm traveling. Fallout 3 at least has a real terrain map that corresponds one to one to a real place in the environment. Dragon Age II doesn't.


I'm disappointed in this title. It should have been a drastic improvement over DAO, but isn't. They used the Mass Effect 2 engine, but pulled out the VATS-type targeting system that made ME2 a much better game. Without some kind of targeting system, the real-time battles just end up worthless. Why even have four people in the group? It's easier just to run around avoiding them until you can do them in one at a time.

Granted, some longer ranged weapons do offer targeting, but usually blanket targeting rather than individual targeting or, more specifically, limbs, head or torso. It's these little missing things that make this game less than what it should be. It's these attentions to detail that Bethesda seems to never miss, but Bioware seems to
ignore these details in most of their newer games. That is, especially now that EA owns them.

The Qunari segment ending is complete garbage. Not so much from the story, although that is fairly lame. No, the gameplay is just plain frustrating and lame. Note that I am playing this on 'Casual' mode at this point. First, they throw a small wave at you that's easily defeated. Then they throw a wave of 20-30 enemies at you that en
ds up killing your entire group in less than 2 minutes. The spells they throw at you, you have no defense against (not even the mages). The Qunari commander has a fatality move that there is no way out of. Worse, there is no way to know what Qunari has in store to prepare before you get to this part. Even lamer, targeting is near perfect on you by the enemies. So, if you're standing behind a pole on the level, they can still manage to hit you fully (either spells or melee). Even if you're running away or on the other side of the room, they can still manage to fully stab or hit you with their melee weapon. Was this game even play tested?

This is also yet another game that cheats. This lack of t
hought to the combat is complete garbage. Bioware has completely lost its edge. What's left is a hollow shell of a company. At this point, the only major game companies left are THQ, Ubisoft, Bethesda, Valve and Rockstar. Pretty much every other company has either lost their edge by being gobbled up by larger companies like EA or Atari or they just can't produce solid games anymore. Oh well, this is probably the last Bioware
game that I'll review here on Gamezelot.

Note, I haven't completely finished this game yet. But, I don't have to complete the game to already know the frustrating aspects of Dragon Age II.

And last but not least... at least they could proof the copy

  • Sound: 8/10
  • Graphics: 8.5/10
  • Gameplay: 6/10 (still many fundamental problems)
  • Story: 6.5/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 8.5/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 2/10
  • Play Value: $15 (rent first, then buy)
  • Overall: 5.5/10 (graphics improvement, gameplay is worse)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Xbox 360 - Two Worlds II

Two Worlds II by South Peak Games

While I played but never reviewed Two Worlds, I also thought it was unfair to review Two Worlds as it was so unfinished and buggy. In fact, the game was so unfinished, I wasn't even able to complete the game. To be fair, though, I should have at least reviewed that part of Two Worlds here on Gamezelot. So, here's your mini-review of Two Worlds. Overall, Two Worlds is rated 2/10 (Very poor game, very buggy and very unfinished).

With that out of the way, we get to the heart of this review of Two Worlds II, the sequel to Two Worlds.


Well, frankly I haven't been able to make heads or tails of the story. It's a mix-mash of a bunch of RPG ideas, but it's not really that cohesive. Something is definitely going on, but the dialog and voice acting are so bad, I couldn't really keep up nor was it compelling me to watch it. So, while there is a story there of some kind, I really lost interest in finding out what it was. As a storyteller, you have one shot to draw in your audience, Two Worlds II fails miserably at this.

RPG System

So, while Two Worlds failed at just about every aspect of being an RPG game, Two Worlds II has much improved the gaming aspect quite a bit over Two Worlds. That said, the improvements made don't make this a grade A title. No, it's still firmly a grade C game. In fact, the designers should have just skipped the whole lead-in story completely and dropped the gamer right into the character generator. Basically, after the arduous story, you end up in the character builder.

Unfortunately, once in the character builder, the player character is limited to being human (as is nearly every other character in the game, with the exception of the enemies and creatures you can summon). As far as the player character, he's always human and, from what I remember, always male. You can modify your character's looks within limits including height, broad shoulders, and facial features. In fact, most of the alterations deal with facial features and hair and beard shapes and colors. For an RPG, it's really very limited. That is to say, compared with the Elder Scrolls series (Oblivion specifically).

After you create your character, the game begins.


Once the game starts, you will notice several things. First, the controller mapping is completely wonky (see messing with a good thing). South Peak should have looked at other RPGs and decided on a more cohesive button layout. That said, the designers do allow you to remap nearly anything in your inventory to RB, LB, X, Y, A and B buttons. Helpful, but not overly useful. I'd still prefer to have a standard layout with the action keys on the A, B, X and Y buttons rather than using the trigger controllers. Triggers are for cars and guns, not swinging swords and melee weapons. I might accept firing arrows from a trigger, but that's inconsistent when you're already using A or B for melee.


To pull no punches here, the graphics are downright awful. But, it's not just the texture mapping that's at issue. Some objects are textured mapped well enough, others textures just don't work at all. It's the inconsistency that's at issue here. For a game to work, all objects have to be consistently texture mapped. For example, you would never use a 1024x1024 texture map for a large surfaced area like the ground. On the other hand, it's pointless to use 4096x4096 pixel maps on tiny objects like vials. Designers need to be cognizant of the when and where to use the right sized maps. Worse, though, is that the ground surface maps look like photographs of real surfaces just plopped onto the ground surface. That doesn't work alone. It takes supporting bump maps to make a surface look realistic. Yet, no bump mapping is here.

Unfortunately, there is no use of specularity maps here. Since I don't know the engine that South Park decided to use for Two Worlds II, I do not know if it's capable of specularity. However, most game engines do support some level of specularity (i.e., shininess vs dullness). Most objects in the game have a single level of dullness that leads the game to look flat and lifeless. We need to see levels of specularity to make the objects appear 3 dimensional.

Programming Issues

Most console games hold the game in a loading screen until everything has been completely loaded and ready to go. Not Two Worlds II. When you teleport, for example, as soon as you appear in the destination teleport, you see the whole world load. That is, building, textures, plants, trees, etc... everything pops up right on the screen. This is a bad technique. A 'loading' screen should be present until the world has fully and completely loaded.

In addition to the popup issue, which I could live with, there is this 'freezing' thing that happens. It doesn't hang the Xbox, instead this appears to be a conscious programming decision. For example, when you land on the destination teleport, the game is frozen. You can see your character, but you can't move. You're stuck until the game decides to finally let the game start. When you're frozen, so are all of the other characters in the world. It's like you pressed the pause button on a remote control, yet the game is not paused. This issue needs to be addressed a lot more elegantly going forward. Most well designed games think this aspect through.


Again, to be blunt, the lighting is horrible. The daylight lighting overdoes (and overexposes) the scenes so it's actually hard to see much of the terrain when the sun is blinding the player character. So much of the outdoors scenes are overexposed. Sunlight needs to look realistic, yes. But, it doesn't need to blind the player so they can't see the environment. Basically, the sunlight effects are way overdone and need to be toned way back.

On the flip side, in the dark areas it's too dark. Yes, there is a torch, but as a designer you still need to add key lighting in places (shafts of light from holes in caves) to add mood and give depth to the scene. In most caves, it's just not moody enough, just dark. Caves need dark places and need light places to create a mood, provide a realistic environment and reinforce a convincing 3D aspect of the game experience.


The lack of a story leads to a convoluted and confusing questing experience. There is a quest log, yes. The quest log does lead the player through where they need to be to get the quest completed, but the quests are trivially easy to complete. For example, there's a follow-someone quest where they tell you not to follow too close. In fact, there is no need for this at all. You can follow as close as you want as there is nothing to 'notice' that you followed them at all. The only aspect here is that you need to hide behind barrels to allow the meeting to take place. Ultimately, though, you still have to fight and kill the meeting people anyway. So, why bother hiding? Just go in with the sword drawn and get it over with. It's not that it's that hard to kill the opponents anyway.

Leveling up

Gaining experience is strange at best. You have no idea how much XP you're gaining by doing any specific thing. Sometimes you'll see '1 XP gained', but other times you see nothing. In fact, most times you see nothing. So, there's no way to quantify how much XP you'll get by doing any specific thing. This part of the game needs a lot of work.

Unfortunately, leveling up is a mixed bag here. Not so much for the player character, but more for the enemies around you. Meaning, you have no idea what level opponent you're about to fight. You only see their health bar, but not their level. With any long-form RPG game, the game needs to level opponents up at near the same rate as the player character. Don't throw level 30 enemies at level 2 player characters. This is completely unfair and unnecessary. The level 30 enemy will simply pummel the player character in one hit of the sword. Not fair and not necessary. Designers need to understand this aspect.


Like Oblivion, there are guilds. Unfortunately, this is yet another haphazard element. It's there, but not explained. As you play and finish quests, you will gain points toward guilds. Some of the quests are defined as guild quests, while others aren't. I'm not even sure what happens once you gain favor with a guild (note that I haven't gotten that far yet). Still, even though I haven't gotten far enough to get through obtaining guild favor, I'm not sure that it will even give me much when I do.


The combat system is about standard. Swing swords or fire arrows. Once you get the hang of where to be, how to stand, how to corner the enemy and all of the other tricks, you can easily defeat just about any enemy in the game.

Game Maps and Travel

The maps seem very large. So, there's lots of running to be had. However, there is also a teleport system. This system allows you to teleport (fast travel) to any other teleport that you've found on the map. As long as you are outdoors (clear sky above), you can teleport. Inside buildings, dungeons and caves, this is not possible. So, exit to outdoors to travel. Horses are also available, like Oblivion, to move from place to place faster. To be honest, I haven't found a horse yet, so I can't speak to how well this part works.


This game is a mess. However, to its credit I have yet to run into any show-stopper bugs. You know, the kind that lead you into a room that you realize you can't get out of and you have no save to revert back to (so you're stuck having to start over). That's not to say I won't discover one about 75% through the game, but so far I haven't. In Two Worlds, I found bugs (not stuck bugs), but the kind that crash the game dead regularly. Thankfully, Two Worlds II at least doesn't hang the XBox.

That said, the game is designed as though there were multiple teams all completing separate aspects to the game never coming together to create a cohesive whole game. Worse, so many corners were cut to produce the game, the game is missing a cohesive whole story element that draws you in and makes you want to play. So, the lighting guys, texturing guys, coding guys and story guys never seemed to sit in a room and say, "Hey, we want a high quality game". They just all seemed to do their work independently, then put it all together, beta test and then release. Little quality control on the end result seemed to happen.

So, the game's quests are many and take a while to complete, even though they are trivially easy. If you're willing to overlook all of the negative aspects mentioned above, you might find some kind of enjoyable experience from Two Worlds II. That is, if you like to just blindly quest without thought to the story. Granted, I do find myself blindly questing much of the time even in Oblivion. So, in this way, I find myself doing the same thing in Two Worlds II.

Play this game only if you like blind questing. Since there is a drought of major RPG titles, this one will do until Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is released in the fall of 2011. This game is not likely to win Game of the Year from Gamezelot (or any other review site), but it is much better than Two Worlds. I recommend this game only if you are desperate for an RPG and you need something to play. I also only recommend it as a 'buy used'. It's a bit to expensive at $60 with all of its flaws.

  • Sound: 4/10 (works ok, but needs help, bad voice acting)
  • Graphics 3.5/10 (bad quality 3D work, textures, lighting, etc)
  • Story: 2/10 (not engaging)
  • Bugginess: N/A (no hang bugs found yet, surprisingly)
  • Controls: 7/10 (reasonable, but could have been better)
  • Bang-To-Buck: 2/10 (Not really wanting to revisit this world)
  • Play Value: $5 (play once, but too long to rent, buy used)
  • Overall: 4/10 (improved from TW, but not great)
Definitely not the quality you would expect from an RPG

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Xbox 360 - Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas by Obsidian

I would love to say this game is perfect. In general, I like Bethesda games, even if they do come from Obsidian. However, even though Fallout: New Vegas is very similar to Fallout 3, it's just different enough that I'm still not overly thrilled. Since Fallout New Vegas is basically an expansion to Fallout 3, I will treat it as such and not go into depth about the entire game. If you're looking for a more in-depth review, please read my Fallout 3 review here on Gamezelot.


Fallout New Vegas starts with a completely new character. This time, you don't start out in a vault as a baby (a good thing). Instead, you wake up after having been knocked out from some mostly unexplained event. You come to find out that you're basically a delivery boy delivering a package when you're beaten within an inch of your life. A doctor intervenes and saves you.

This is where your character begins. From here, you choose your character's look and attire. After this, it's much the same as Fallout 3, other than you're hoping to find your attackers and the reason you were attacked. So then, you are hopelessly roaming the countryside in search of and completing quests in and around 'New Vegas' (a post apocalyptic version of Las Vegas). Every ounce of power generated is sent to New Vegas, so you will find quests related to power generation.


The same as Fallout which is also the same as Oblivion. The scenery has changed, but the game play and controls are identical. Not that this is bad, but I was at least hoping for an updated look and feel. No such luck.


As with RPGs like this, the quests are many and varied. Some you get right away, some you pick up by talking to people, others just fall in your lap as part of other quests. Overall, the questing system is near the same as Fallout 3.

Pip Boy

The pip boy is still here and is your interface to your character's health, armor and items. Basically, anything and everything dealing with your character is available through the pip boy. I'm still not overly impressed by this in-game device. I would have preferred a different interface system, but it works for what it is.

Leveling up and Perks

This aspect has changed just slightly from Fallout 3. Instead of getting perks each time you level, you only get perks every other time you level. So, you have to go through two level ups to get more perks. This also means that perks are slow to come. So, don't expect to get a lot of perks throughout this game.


I like Fallout New Vegas well enough, but the story isn't any more compelling than Fallout 3. The premise is ok, but it's far too much the same as Fallout 3. This is a rather long RPG game. This is definitely a buy if you are into RPGs as the game is quite long. You won't be able to rent this and get through very much before you return it.

At this point, I think Bethesda is beating a dead horse with this title. It's not that it's bad, but it's a 'been there done that' title. Meaning, if you've played Fallout 3, you've pretty much already played Fallout New Vegas. I'm much more anxious and excited to play Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim than to play another Fallout at this point.

  • Sound: 8/10 (workable, but gets annoying after a while)
  • Graphics 8.5/10 (a bit glitchy like Oblivion... this wasn't fixed in Fallout New Vegas)
  • Bugginess: N/A (no hang bugs found yet, surprisingly)
  • Controls: 8.5/10 (reasonable, but could have been enhanced)
  • Bang-To-Buck: 2/10 (Not really wanting to revisit this world)
  • Overall: 8.7/10 (not an improvement over Fallout 3)