Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening Special Edition (PS2) Review

Developer/Publisher: Capcom || Overall: 9.0/10

The Devil May Cry series has been one of the more talked about games recently with the release of Devil May Cry 4, all with the exclusivity to Sony platform being thrown up into the air – but back in the day where none of that mattered, there was a game called Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition for the PS2. The Special Edition is the refining of the original game, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, and includes a bunch more goodies that the first version didn’t have, as well as a shuffling around of the difficulty modes. Usually action games peak out around ten or fifteen hours, but it’s easy to spend at least twice that with Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition.

Put simply, Devil May Cry 3 is an action game with horror and gothic elements. It’s not exactly scary, but the game goes back to its roots after Devil May Cry 2’s “offensive” locale. Not only that, but there is an actual story that you can comprehend, unlike any of the other games in the series up to this point. Though the story is actually worth its weight in words this time around, the main appeal comes from the gameplay itself, and it speaks volumes. Unlike most games, Normal mode isn’t for the faint of heart, and even that is considered “easy” by the original version of Devil May Cry 3’s standards.

The Devil May Cry series doesn’t have a combo system utilizing different buttons like in God of War. There is one button to use your melee weapon (typically a sword), one button for your guns, and one button for a special move. Used appropriately, you can string together all the different types of attacks to lay some serious hurt on the demons and rack up some impressive combos. Unlike Devil May Cry 2, you’ll have to hit the square button over and over if you want to shoot Dante’s guns (in Devil May Cry 2, you could just hold it down and it’d fire). As far as Dante’s pistols go, the faster you hit the square button, the faster he’ll shoot them. As you get different weapons, they all have their own firing rates, so clicking the button as fast as you are able to does not help you all the time. Melee weapons follow a bit different logic, however. A melee weapon has two or three different combos that rely on the timing of your button pushes. This can change a little from weapon to weapon, but it’s basically the same execution. In total, there are five guns and five melee weapons for Dante to acquire through the game.

The circle button comes into play when you want to use one of Dante’s Styles. The basic styles are Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, and Royalguard. Trickster allows you to make use of dashing and running up walls, which I found to be practically useless. Trickster is a hold-over from the circle-button command from Devil May Cry 2, but Devil May Cry 2’s execution in that regard was leagues better. Swordmaster is a bit more useful, and allows you to do some cool stuff with your sword (like throw it) once it levels up. Gunslinger is the one I used the most, and allows you to do quite a few things, like shoot your guns faster, charge them, and target two targets at the same time. Not to mention spin in the air like a tornado while shooting your gun! Gunslinger is by far the coolest of all the styles. Royalguard is kinda boring and only blocks. If you block enough, you charge up some power and can release it onto an enemy to kill them. It’s sort of ineffective at times, because you’ll still get damaged, and it’s not really smart to take damage since it’s very hard to find something that heals you. Other styles are acquired as the game goes on, but for about 80 percent of the game you’ll be stuck with those four. The more advanced styles you gain later on don’t allow you to level up at all.

The graphics are pretty nice for a PS2 game, but do sort of show their age as we get further into the current generation of consoles. The voice acting is not terrible at all, so that is something to be thankful for. The sound effects are good, but the music is where the game lacks. Every time you’re near an enemy, a cheesy battle score with horrible lyrics starts playing. I hated the song by the end of the game and tried to just ignore it, unfortunately to no avail. It would have been nice if they didn’t have such a horrible song, but what can you do? The story is good, and really the first competent piece of writing the series has shown after the first two games.

Overall, the game is very hard, even at the Normal difficulty. The easy difficulty allows for less experienced action gamers (or people who just suck at games) to get into the game to actually beat it and *gasp* enjoy it. Even hardcore gamers will probably at least take a pass through all modes of play the game has to offer, as it’ll add towards fully completing the game in every facet. Once you finish the game, a new gameplay mode called Bloody Palace will be accessible, not to mention being able to play as Dante’s brother Vergil in a new game. There’s plenty of stuff to unlock, so you’ll be playing the full game quite a few times, although it’ll be easier after the first time since you’ll know how to figure out all the puzzles.

Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition is a good game to play if you’re into action games. Since it has been out for a while now, you’ll be able to find it at a very cheap price. The Devil May Cry box set includes all three of the PS2 games in the series, and it’s a good value. Regardless of your feelings toward the second game, you’ll get a loaded action game in Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition.

 

This Is Satire – Civil Engineers Appalled At Grand Theft Auto IV

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series This Is Satire

Citing a gross misrepresentation on the stability of streetlights in Grand Theft Auto IV, the Furiously Angered Civil Engineers Union (FACEU) has held a press event in the Civil Engineering capital of the world, the GameStop on Foothill Avenue in Arcadia, California.

Don Southerby, Chairman of the FACEU, said in his opening statement that his organization feels that Grand Theft Auto IV is an insult to Civil Engineers everywhere and should be pulled off its shelves, not for its varied measures of allegedly extreme violence sprinkled throughout the game, but for its “sickening misuse of Civil Engineer equipment, such as barrels full of water, orange cones, off-colored barricades, and traffic laws.” Afraid that since only children play the game, not people that drive cars, they will think that it is normal to drive like maniacs endangering all around them.

What Don Southerby was really steamed about, however, was the fact that “streetlights are depicted as frail poles swaying in the wind that a car can simply sweep off its feet and be disconnected from the power grid with little to no damage to the car. In the real world, streetlights are powerful and a car can not simply run through it. Streetlights are built stronger than trees, yet not a tree in Grand Theft Auto IV can be run down!”

Don Southerby continued, “Do you know how many streetlights prevent drunk drivers from continuing their drunken rampage? A LOT. We owe a lot to streetlights in this country and without them the world would be a cold, dark place 12 hours out of the day. Not only that, but Grand Theft Auto IV does not punish players for not following traffic laws. Traffic laws are handcrafted by painstaking research of traffic patterns at each and every stoplight out there. Running red lights in this game does not show the respect to all those Civil Engineers who risk their livelihood everyday out on the streets.”

The FACEU’s Environmental sects have also railed Rockstar Games, maker of Grand Theft Auto IV, for misrepresenting trees and grass in the game. “Trees and grass do not look like that,” said one of the supporters at the FACEU press event.

After the rally had taken its course, many attendees bought copies of GTAIV, commenting that they were “planning on burning it later where the fire would not threaten any street signs or road pavement.”

Don Southerby closed the rally, with the following comments, “FACEU will not support any game that gives you high scores for destroying streetlights and Civil Engineering equipment. These vital parts of society are here for a reason and not meant to frivolously be obliterated by people who do not follow traffic laws.”

 

Devil May Cry 2 (PS2) Review

Developer/Publisher: Capcom || Overall: 8.0/10

Devil May Cry 2 has somehow achieved the reputation of being the worst game in the Devil May Cry series, and there is no one out there who would recommend playing the game after the third and fourth games came out. Most people just say skip it. I’m here to tell you otherwise — Devil May Cry 2 is not that bad of a game. Sure, it might have a few flaws, but Devil May Cry 2 is a superior game to the first Devil May Cry in practically every way except the location.

The original Devil May Cry started out as a Resident Evil game, as most people know. It’s probably safe to assume that Devil May Cry 2 started out as some other game that was transformed into a Devil May Cry game with Dante slapped into it. That may or may not be the case, but it’s probably better for it, since I didn’t really enjoy the first Devil May Cry game as much as some people. The only thing the first Devil May Cry still has going for it is level design. In the first game Dante talked — not so much in the second one. But it’s a blessing when compared to the end of the first game where Dante becomes a prissy pony (read: not a badass).

Devil May Cry 2 didn’t have that great of a story, or anything that even resembles a story to tell you the truth, but I found that the gameplay was tremendously improved from the first game. Dante’s guns are Automatic, similar to the first game’s Easy Automatic. Unlike the first, it doesn’t feel like a machine gun and the animation is a lot smoother. Dante can now run up walls, and also dodge while pressing the Circle button. Out of the first three games, dodging has been executed optimally in Devil May Cry 2.

As far as the actual game goes, there are plenty of missions — a little more than 20. Not only that, but you can play as a second character right off the bat, named Lucia, who basically goes through all the same levels in a different way. Nonetheless, there is a lot of content to be mindful of even if there aren’t any extras. Lucia is a bit boring, however, so you might as well just stick with the Dante disc and forget there is a Lucia disc unless you want to see a French ninja girl jump around.

Basically what people hate about the game is that Dante doesn’t talk very much, the story makes absolutely no sense and you’re running around urban environments for the majority of the game. There is truth to all of that, but that line of thinking glosses over the actual gameplay. As far as that goes, lots of people think it was a piece of cake. It could be considered that, especially compared to the other games, but I had a difficult time enough as it was, so it depends on what kind of gamer you are when it comes to difficulty preference.

The graphics and sound are quite improved from the first game, but the first had better art and design than the second. There weren’t any bad frame rate dips at all, and of what little voice acting there was of Dante, it was fine. The annoying voice actors are probably just about everyone else in the game, but you get over it since they barely ever talk anyway.

Devil May Cry 2 might not be the best game ever, but it certainly is NOT one to skip over if you want to see the evolution of the series. As much as fans and even Capcom itself might want to ignore its existence and say to just “skip it,” it would be quite the mistake. If you like to see how the game series evolved, Devil May Cry 2 should at least be given a try.

 

WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2008 (PS3) Review

Developer: Yuke’s Media Creations / Publisher: THQ Inc. || Overall: 5.0/10

The SmackDown Vs. Raw series has been around for a while. With its long-since forgotten relatives WCW/nWo World Tour and WCW/nWo Revenge on the N64, THQ’s wrestling formula hasn’t changed all that much from those days. It may have a new coat of paint and an updated roster, but SmackDown Vs. Raw 2008 can’t hold a candle to the original wrestling games that fans played to death when they were released.

SmackDown Vs. Raw is basically a 3D fighting game in its core foundation. While it’s not exactly “traditional” in that there is a life bar, the concept is still the same – beat the crap out of your opponent and make him wish he was never born. Wrestling games are a lot slower than normal fighters, because they try to mimic “real life” wrestling, whatever that may be. In SmackDown Vs. Raw 2008, you take control of wrestlers with practically no personality (that is, if they had any in the first place) and typically win by submission or three-count pin-fall.

In the game, you have some basic moves. You can punch, kick, smack, slap, run, weak grab, or strong grab your opponent to lay the hurt down on them. If you’ve played any wrestling game by THQ, most of it has remained unchanged over the years. The only thing worth commenting on if you haven’t played one of these games for a long time is that once you grab your opponent, you can execute a move by flicking the right analog stick in a certain direction to perform a specific move in your current character’s repertoire. While it isn’t as straightforward as pressing a button, it seems a bit more intuitive since you are mimicking a move as your character does it, in a way. If you get a hang of the fighting system, you might be able to have a good time with the game, as there is a lot of stuff to do if you really put your mind to it. If the system doesn’t really appeal to you, it’ll be hard finding your money’s worth if you’re a newcomer to wrestling games. You’ll also be furiously hitting on all buttons way more than you’d probably like to, so get ready to give your fingers a workout.

SmackDown Vs. Raw 2008 is the first game in the series to appear on the PS3. The 2007 version was canceled, to WWE’s major dismay, and you can see that there are still many kinks that didn’t get finished or optimized to a satisfactory standard. At the top of the list are the loading screens. Holy crap, there are a ton of loading screens in this game. Every time you start a match, there’s a loading screen. Before you even get to PLAY the match you just waited through the loading screen for, you have to go through three forced loading screens, even if you don’t want to watch the opening entrances of the wrestlers. It is so annoying to sit through what seems like five minutes of loading just to play a match – and worst of all, you can’t even turn the wrestler’s entrances off so you can avoid all that extra loading. Or if there IS a way to turn it off, they didn’t make it easy to find since I couldn’t find it in the Options menu at all.

As far as game modes go, there is a very barebones “career”-type mode called WWE 24/7, which is new to the series. In WWE 24/7, you can take a WWE Superstar or a created wrestler of your choice through a bunch of shoddy barely-thought-through storylines (and you thought the actual storylines you see on TV were bad?) with canned animations, e-mails that have voice-overs, e-mails that don’t have voice-overs, and spending money to unlock opening entrances (goody, more load times!). Online is also horribly laggy, and I always seem to be at a disadvantage against other players online because they somehow mastered the non-responsive controls in online mode and take advantage of the lag people get to absolutely dominate you. That’s probably beside the point, though, which is that it’s completely not worth playing against a human since there’s barely a difference in the satisfaction you may get from pinning an AI player. I guess it’s also worth mentioning that practically every wrestler you’d want to wrestle with is included in the game, as well as the ECW roster, making its debut this year.

Graphics are “meh” at best. Horribly annoying canned animations give absolutely no personality to any of the wrestlers you see, even though there are unique entrances for all the WWE Superstars. A limitation in WWE 24/7 mode seems to be that there can only be four characters on screen at the same time, and often there is no continuity between the story and what you see in the animations between characters. They are just replaced randomly with other wrestlers, so you’ll see the same scenes over and over. It might also be a boon that some of the models in the game look like the real wrestlers, but some of them look very off, like Edge. The sound is okay at best as the music can get kind of repetitive. The voice-overs are done by the actual wrestlers and personalities from WWE, so credit should be given for actually getting the real people to come in and donate their talents towards the project, although you might get sick of just about everyone’s voice by the time you’re through with WWE 24/7 mode.

In the end SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 is probably not worth your time. If you really commit to putting time into the game, you’ll be able to find a lot of content to busy yourself with. However horribly executed it may be, there is still a lot of playing time to be had. If you’re a long time fan of the series and you’ve stuck with it this far, you’re probably getting what you expect from a yearly “sports” title, but don’t hold your breath if you expect to find something redeeming in this year’s edition of SmackDown Vs. Raw. Maybe the 2009 edition of the game will have a fleshed out WWE 24/7 mode that will actually be worth playing, as it did show promise of becoming an interesting play mode.

 

Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds (PS3) Review

Developer: Clap Hanz / Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment || Overall: 9.0/10

Sony Computer Entertainment’s Hot Shots Golf series has entered into the next generation in Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds. Out of Bounds is an arcade-style golfing game developed by Clap Hanz in Japan. While not everyone will get the appeal of the inherently Japanese-styled characters, beneath what you see is a very meaty, fun, golfing game that provides entertainment for a very long time. An all-new online mode is introduced in Out of Bounds and adds a distinctive layer to the series.

The first thing anyone sees when they put their copy of Out of Bounds into their PS3 is an installation screen. Even though the game takes about a 4 giga-BITE (get it? okay, sorry) out of your hard drive space, it’ll be well worth it since the game runs like a dream from hole to hole. The only time you’ll see a load screen in this game is right before you start a new game, and only for a few seconds. Whatever your philosophy on mandatory installs may be, it is very nice to play a game where there is minimal time spent with loading, leaving more to actually playing.

Traditionally, the Hot Shots Golf series’ shot system had worked by the “3 click” system. First, you start the power meter, click the X button when it got to the power setting you wanted, and then when the dial came back to the beginning, you hit the X button again, in an attempt to get the dial right on target to where it had began. It’s a pretty standard system found in most golf games prior to this one.

A new Advanced Shot system is described as a more “analog” way to play the game, judging the power of a stroke by how far the club is raised, and how straight the ball flies by a closing circle. In Out of Bounds, instead of forcing you to go with the new Advanced Shot system, they give you the option of using both, but do make it very encouraging to play with the Advanced Shot system since it is more advantageous than the Traditional Shot system in almost all ways except for judging exactly how far you want the ball to go. Spinning the ball in different ways allows you to take extra control over what the ball does, as well.

Essentially, the shot systems are the game. There are six courses that will challenge your mastery of the particular shot systems, with weather, special rules, or even competition against another golfer being tossed in the Challenge Mode of the game. Golfers each have their individual talents, and there 15 to choose from. Challenge Mode allows you to acquire new gear, golfers, and other items. Also, as you progress through Challenge Mode, new courses eventually open up. In Stroke Mode, you can select any of the various ways to play each course and modify the individual course however you like before you play. A multiplayer mode allows for local play, but the main multiplayer mode that will suck up your time is the online multiplayer mode. Online multiplayer is quite interesting in how it’s presented. Unlike most online games where you simply join a game and play, there is a whole lobby and chat system – you even get your own cute little avatar to jump around and interact with people in a multitude of visual chat rooms. All of that is quite novel, but the main point is to play games online, after all.

The online multiplayer is unique and not exactly 100% golf-oriented, but obviously the point of the whole lobby system is to join games and play. Normal games that are created by other people in the lobby that you are currently in can be joined and created on the fly. Tournaments require a little bit more planning. You have a set time that the tournament starts at, and you book your spot in the tournament well in advance before it starts. You might be able to find a tournament starting right when you’re looking to play or plan ahead and find a game that is four hours ahead.

Additionally, Tournaments are separated in different rankings, GF, G0, G1, and G2. GF doesn’t count for much (everyone can play), while G0, G1, and G2 allow you to rank up, starting from G2, and getting to G0. The more you play (and win), the higher ranking you’ll be able to get. You’ll have to keep winning to keep your online ranking, and if you don’t get enough points to sustain your rank, you could actually get demoted, so it keeps you on your toes, constantly competing against other players online. Tournaments feature up to 50 players. The downside of that is that there can be a lot of time wasted, as you wait for everyone to finish the hole.

Graphics are very nice, and smooth — practically no jaggies anywhere and the lighting effects are quite beautiful. The sound effects are satisfying, and so is the soundtrack. What really annoys from a presentation-standpoint is the voice-overs. The voice actors are just astoundingly bad. I’m only thankful that we don’t have to hear them speak actual dialogue to propel a story forward, not that there would be one since it’s a golfing game, but it’s a curious choice in the localization process. If the American voices annoy you enough, however, you can switch on the Japanese voices.

Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds is a great entry into the popular golf series. Its easy to get in to, and the concept is simple – get the ball in the hole with as few strokes as possible. There’s a lot of time to be spent with this title, and fans won’t be disappointed with either the offline or the online modes. Not only is the game satisfying and full of content, there is also the prospect of getting extra characters and courses through the PlayStation Store.

 

Take Two Buys EA – TTEA Is Made

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series This Is Satire

Teastounding!

In what could be an astounding chain of events, Take Two has announced they have bought Electronic Arts.  Not disclosing any details of the transaction, Take Two interim CEO Benjamin Feder is hailed as a mastermind of negotiation.

“This isn’t some herbal supplement we’ve got here.” elaborated Chairman of the Board Strauss Zelnick.  “This is real Earl Grey tea.  None of that flavored stuff you get at some knock-off Trader Joes kind of place.”

The new company will be named TTEA – pronounced “Tuh-tee.”

You can expect to see a lot more games based on tea, starting with the spin-off of the Grand Theft Auto series, GTeA.

GTeA follows a know-nothing Eastern-European criminal that makes his way to the top of the tea industry, finding out the best way to make tea.  Platforms announced are the PS3 and 360. The Wii will also be getting its own delightful version of GTeA called GTeAWii in which you can actually stir the tea before giving it to your gangster friends.

Merchandising for GTeA will include a special brand of Tea, aptly named, GTeA.  One teabag of actual GTeA will come with each copy of the GTeA game, with whole packages being sold exclusively through Amazon.com.

“We feel that giving the user the ability to experience the tea that they see, hear, and make in the game is important to the synergy of the game and this merger,” newly appointed Chief of Tea John Riccitiello.

Commenting on the merger between Take Two, EA, and his new appointing in the corporate structure at TTEA, John Ricciteiello is “glad to finally be able to focus on what my life has really been all about — tea.  I hate all that money talk, what’s it all matter if you can’t get a good cup of tea at the end of the day?  I’ll make sure that every employee at TTEA gets the tea they deserve, as Chief of Tea.”

In the coming weeks, the board of TTEA will re-evaluate every single product that has begun development in the past year to refocus on making their games more “tea-oriented.”

“It’s unfortunate that so many games will be released before we are able to re-evaluate the value of releasing games that do not have anything to do with tea, but rest assure that BioShock 2 will be all about rescuing a crate of tea from the hands of that Colombian guy with the donkey who shows up in your window randomly and makes people drink evil coffee.  Oops, I didn’t just give away the story did I?” Strauss Zelnick stated at the press conference.

As a result of the announcement, Activision Blizzard has shown no remorse in the affability of the new mega-corporation’s name, simply stating “Ours is worse.”

 

.hack//G.U. Vol. 2: Reminisce (PS2) Review

Developer: CyberConnect2 Corp / Publisher: Namco Bandai Games || Overall – 8.5/10

Continuing its engrossing story from the first volume, .hack//G.U. 2: Reminisce is the second in the .hack//G.U. trilogy. Acting more as a bridge between the beginning and the end of the saga, it makes sense that by the time you complete the game you’ll be left wanting more. If you made it so far as to finish the first game, you’ll want to dive in head-first after the almost-too-long wait for the sequel.

Reminisce is a great continuance of the adventure laid out in the first .hack//G.U. There are some story elements that will answer questions, while new ones will be raised in their stead. What you once thought to be Haseo’s ultimate goal turns out to be something completely different. Without spoiling too much of the story, all I can say is that even though you may have defeated Tri-Edge in the first game, think again if you believe he’s actually gone for good.

The gameplay is virtually the same as the first volume. However, there are slight improvements that alleviate some of the annoyances in the first game. First, there is the Skill Trigger, which allows you to change from Haseo’s currently equipped weapon to another weapon, depending on the skill you have equipped. The only thing bad about it is that you may not be able to use as many of the skills for a particular weapon as you may like. You can only ultimately equip 4 skills, leaving you to basically equip one skill for each weapon and an extra one that you like. With Volume 2, A new Awakening is available called Divine Awakening which allows you to time hits correctly using the power of your teammates and throw a concentrated burst of energy down on your enemies for a massive amount of damage. It’s quite different from any of the Awakenings that were present in the first game, and it is a welcome change to the gameplay.

As you progress through the game, new and stronger weapons will be available. This game allows you to go up to Level 100, as opposed to the first which only let you go up to Level 50. There is also a whole new arena to take part in, so you’ll be on the warpath for a little bit of the game. This time around, it’s not as huge a part of the story as the first was. The game packs a lot of drama and shows the first effects of what uncontrolled AIDA will do to The World, which is amplified to near anarchy near the end of the game.

Practically all the production values have been carried over from the first game. As I said in the review of the first game, they are very impressive in the way that the game almost literally looks like a 3D anime. Not only is the game presented as such, but the game’s structure itself is actually laid out as if you’re playing through episodes of an anime, a little chunk at a time. Many of the CG movies are noticeably better than the in-game graphics (especially because of the lighting they use), but it keeps the same style going. The CG movies are fantastic — they portray The World in such a distinctive way not possible through in-game graphics, and just like a little 10 year old boy, I’m actually excited when I get to watch one of the movies.

Obviously, those that had tried out the first game and disliked it will most likely not enjoy the second volume of .hack//G.U. Though, for someone that really enjoys the game, it is a worthy sequel to an already pretty solid game. As the story is the main reason to play the game, the gameplay still needs a little bit of a reworking before there can be a killer game in the .hack series. While the gameplay feels ultimately mediocre, the additions to it in .hack//G.U. 2 does make it a bit more interesting. In the end, .hack//G.U. 2 can really be summarized as more of Volume 1 with minimal changes to the way it plays. .hack//G.U. 2 is simply a progression of the story, with a lot more AIDA battles.

Fans of the first game who are engrossed in the story and enjoy the gameplay well enough to keep going with it will find an immensely enjoyable game. Now that Volume 3 has finally been released (this time only a few months after the last volume’s release), Volume 2 is a vital part of the .hack//G.U. trilogy that should not be missed. Though the game doesn’t have many noticeable improvements over the first, it is still a worthy purchase or, at the very least, a playthrough.

 

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, The (PS3) Review

Developer/Publisher: Bethesda Softworks || Overall: 9.8/10

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion finally saw its release on the PlayStation 3 this past month. After a delay, a short period of time followed where nobody knew when the game was going to be released for Sony’s current-gen console (gotta start sometime, right?), but the wait was wholeheartedly worth it. Everything I could have wanted from the game and more is delivered with flying colors.

Up until getting my hands on Oblivion, I hadn’t spent much time with any western-style RPGs (I usually stick with the Japanese-influenced side of the genre), resulting in personal unawareness of The Elder Scrolls franchise. But, after hearing all the positive impressions about the massive amounts of features the game has to offer, I was excited to get a chance to play the franchise on a console I owned. While it is a port of the originally released PC/X360 version, Bethesda spent a good amount of time in development on it. As a result, the game runs very smoothly, and even has enhancements over the originally released versions to include more content as well as improving load times and other outstanding issues.

It should be noted that the same improvements are now available for the PC/X360 although you’ll have to buy the extra content as well as an expansion pack to get the upgrades. While the PS3 version does not have the downloadable content available for it yet, Bethesda plans on releasing them as time goes on.

For those who haven’t already played The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on another platform, the game is a first person RPG, in which you can almost literally do anything you want. There is a main quest involving an alternative realm called Oblivion, but you don’t have to follow it at all. You can steal, dungeon crawl, travel the world, do one of the many quests you might acquire, become an assassin, become an arena gladiator – the world of Oblivion is packed with so many things to do its almost mind-boggling. You could spend 50+ hours in the game and not even take one step in the main quest. Most of my initial time was spent dungeon crawling and acquiring items to sell. It is really up to you what you decide to do in the vast game world.

For the sake of mentioning it, the game’s main quest begins as soon as you start the game. The Emporer, Uriel Septim VII is assassinated by a mysterious group as you help the Emperor escape. Its not good news when you “fail” (aka you will fail no matter what) but before that happens, you will be given a very important artifact called the Amulet of Kings. The Amulet of Kings is vital in stopping the demons (called Daedra) from Oblivion opening an Oblivion Gate and entering the world of Tamriel. This certainly doesn’t sound like it would be a fun thing to have happen.

Once you push the main quest forward a few events, Oblivion Gates will begin to appear randomly around the world. It is up to you to close the Oblivion Gates, since no one else is going to do it. Oblivion Gates will send you to a Plane of Oblivion, in which you can find a massive amount of powerful items you might find worthy to keep or sell. Once you complete an Oblivion dungeon, there is a stone that you’ll ultimately get that can be used to enchant your armor/weapons (which gives your existing items stat boosts). Needless to say, it’s a valuable prize.

While most of the game will take place in first person, there is a third person camera that is available by clicking the R3 button. It’s nice to have a different view every once in a while, just to see what’s around you as you are running around. Combat is best done in first person, however, as the third person view mode will still control as if you’re in first person. Weaponry ranges from swords, axes, bows, hammers, daggers, and a wide variety of magic. When you first create your character, you’ll have a chance to figure out what kinds of things you feel comfortable using, so you don’t have to worry so much about choosing the kind of weapon you’ll prefer.

Practically anything you do is reflected in gaining “experience” — you’ll gain it for just running around. There are a lot of breakdowns for the kinds of things to excel in, such as Athletics, Acrobatics, Destruction Magic, Blade, Sneak, and Mercantile, among others. Using skills enough will increase the level of that skill. Basically, you’ll be better at the skill, and if you reach certain thresholds, you’ll be able to do new things. When you first start out, you will choose seven major skills, with the rest becoming minor skills. Increasing your major skills, in any combination, by ten levels will result in a main level increase, in which you can choose three attributes that you want to boost. Depending on what you choose, your character can become more to your liking, if you want to focus on strength, magic, speed – it’s up to you. However, as your levels increase, so do your enemies’, so you’ll always be given a run for your money as far as combat goes, and it’ll never really get “easier” unless you have some really good armor/weaponry at a level you shouldn’t have them.

The graphics in the game are quite lovely. The most impressive part of the game is the world itself. It is amazingly detailed, and looks beautiful at certain times of the day. The dungeon-type areas are also impressive in their own right, as the careful detail shown throughout the main world is also apparent inside the dangerous areas beneath it. Several types of dungeons settings are in the game, like forts, caves, mines, castles, ruins, and others. The only thing that I can point out as bad is that there will be times where people will be quite literally radiating light, and I have to squint while talking to them. It’s about as funny as it is annoying. Speaking of the character design, most of the time they are fairly ugly – this isn’t a game full of beautiful people. When creating your character for the first time, it might be hard trying to find a character that actually doesn’t look like a freak of nature. Frame rate drops are a rare occurrence, but it can happen at times.

Sound is also another important part of the game. Every character in the game is voiced – every single one of them. You have the option to turn subtitles on or off, in case you don’t understand what they’re saying or if you want to speed read ahead of what they’re talking about so you can get on with the quest you’re on. The voice acting isn’t bad, but the only qualm is that there seems to be about seven or eight people that voice all the characters in the game. When there are thousands of characters in the game to talk to, it can become unappealing to hear the same few voices repeated. Patrick Stewart is featured as the voice of the Emperor, but he dies.

The soundtrack is also impressive. It’s all orchestrated, so it makes you feel like you’re in a fantasy movie battling all the different demon monsters and walking skeletons you’ll encounter. The only time there is no music, is when it’s used carefully to create a feeling of isolation, or something to that effect. Upbeat “battle music” will start playing if there is an enemy nearby, as well. There aren’t too many “theme songs” to really pick out from this game, but the title screen song is the most memorable of all.

An important part of the game to mention is the sheer amount of content you’ll experience if you intend to explore every nook and cranny there is to be offered. You can easily spend upwards of 200 hours in this game and still have more to do. The game is worth it at practically any price you can get it for, and it being the same price as so many of the other short games on the market today is really a testament to the amount of value you can get out of the same cash you could have spent elsewhere.

If you’re aching for a game to put some time into, Oblivion will certainly deliver if you enjoy western-themed RPGs. With seemingly an unlimited amount of things to do for a huge amount of time, it is certainly a must-buy. If you waited on buying the PC/X360 versions and have a PS3, it might be worth it to you to give Oblivion a shot on your Cell-powered machine.

 

Revolution (Wii) Controller Theory

In July of 2005, before the Revolution’s controller was actually revealed at the Tokyo Game Show of the same year, I drew up a bunch of pictures making fun of what the Revolution controller could actually be like, based on the information and rumors of the time. A couple of things were actually right, like the huge “A” button idea, and other things. But all the following drawings are NOT REAL, they’re just to make fun of Nintendo’s gaming console, the Revolution.


 

Star Fox 64 (N64) Gripe

fucking slippy, always in the way. I swear they programed him to defend the enemy. “save me, save me” “Don’t shoot me!” Make up your mind, either you want me to save you from the enemies by killing you myself or you don’t

I always liked Falco, he was helpful, never got in the way

 

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The (SNES) Review

Developer/Publisher: Nintendo

Overview:

Ah yes. The absolutely amazing Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. This epic adventure was definitely one of the highlights of the Super Nintendo 16 bit era. Even today, this is still a good game, even when compared to the games coming out today.

Graphics:

The graphics are pretty damn good for Super Nintendo. Everything is easy to see, and has its own, unique style. The game itself is very colorful, and gives you a feeling like the world you’re in is alive.

Sound:

The music is great, the sound effects aren’t annoying. What else could you really want from a game?

Gameplay:

The gameplay is really fun. The battles are fun because you have to use what you have available to you whenever you’re fighting against something. When you use the menu screen though, it takes a little getting used to, because you don’t have to confirm your choice, all you do is move the cursor over to the item. The first time you open the menu screen, it may overwhelm you at first, but after you get used to it, it gets better. After a while, this game gets HARD, and you really have to be good at using a sword, and whatever other weapons you use.

Crappiest Part:

I would say the crappiest part in this game is not really being able to use the shield when you want to. You don’t have the same control over the shield as in the the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The reason they probably did it like that was so you could have a secondary weapon and still have the shield up at the same time. So I guess you just have to not really rely on the sheild at all.

Overall Score:

This game is really good, and is surprisingly long for such an old one. There’s a lot to do, and a lot of secret rooms to look for during the game, which adds to the replay value.

10/10