Review: LEGO Batman 2 (PS3)

60886-legobatman2_1-thumb-480x271-60885.jpg

Lego Batman 2 is Traveller’s Tales’ sequel to 2008′s Lego Batman. This time, Traveller’s has opted for an open-world approach while maintaining the mission-oriented focus of the previous title. And it even features spoken dialogue. But while it does a number of new things for the franchise, it also arrives with a host of annoying bugs that drag the experience down.
Continue reading

Review: Lollipop Chainsaw (X360)

60827-lollipop_1-thumb-480x267-60826.jpg

Suda 51 doesn’t just design games. He and his crew at Grasshopper Manufacture lovingly drip the paint from their imaginations onto a digital drop cloth to create some of the most unusual settings, characters, and storylines to be pressed onto plastic. In as much as their ideas ooze crazy atmospherics, the gameplay has also lived up to the technicolor rain around it.

Lollipop Chainsaw is the latest from the eclectic designer and features everything that you might expect from a high school cheerleader ripping through hordes of zombies with the decapititated head of her boyfriend talking occasional smack. Most everything, anyway, but I’ll get to that later.
Continue reading

Review: Batman – Arkham City (PS3)

56190-ArkhamCity_1-thumb-480x270-56189.jpeg

Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum was heralded by many as the most definitive Batman game ever made up to 2009. It garnered accolades from many and even from the Guinness Book of World Records as “The Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever”. Even with its flaws, it was an enjoyable romp as one of DC Comics’ most iconic characters, though the incredible hype machine had also cast a shadow over the sequel.

Stringing up bad guys on rafters and beating everyone down with the Bat’s martial expertise in a game soaked with as much respect for the source material as it was from the animated series was great fun in Asylum, so getting a sequel was almost a foregone conclusion especially given the ending. Two years later, here we are with Arkham City. And the good news is that it’s polished with the lessons Rocksteady had learned from the first game.
Continue reading

Review: Shadows of the Damned (X360)

54255-sotd_5-thumb-480x269-54254.jpg

Suda 51 is not your normal game designer. Just looking at his history, from Killer 7 to No More Heroes, should tell you that he doesn’t go in for formulaic looks, cliched settings, or stories that take themselves too seriously. They’re all about style, pinching the player to wake them up from their reverie of stock excitements, and then splashing cold WTF all over their world when they least expect it.

That’s what makes his games so much fun to play. At the same time, it’s also clear that they’re not for everybody. Being different doesn’t necessarily mean ‘being commercially popular’. Yet to EA’s credit, they’ve daringly decided to bank on his unique take on gaming with Shadows of the Damned.

Continue reading

Review: Star Wars – The Force Unleashed II

47551-TFU2_7-thumb-480x360-47550.jpg

The Force Unleashed from Lucasarts is the kind of fantasy wish-fulfillment that franchise fans hope to see from their favorite worlds.

It’s also not the first time that Lucasarts had dabbled in giving players a chance to step into the robes of a Force wielder. But unlike the subtle nuances of Jedi Knight on PCs or Bioware and Obsidian’s take with Knights of the Old Republic, the Force Unleashed tramples the screen like a rabid rancor.

It’s unfettered by bothersome things like guns or a library of Force skills. Instead, it whittles the experience down to the bare essentials allowing jump-in Jedi to brazenly wield the Force as a god-like adept capable of delivering a beat down to Darth Vader and the Emperor.

I thought it was tremendous fun, though with a few rough edges – especially involving one Star Destroyer. But I liked it. It had a certain flamboyantly overpowering style that made it a Force flavored guilty pleasure in blasting countless Stormtroopers into the air again and again.

The Force Unleashed II, though, wasn’t quite the sequel that I was looking for.
Continue reading

Review: Fable III (Xbox 360)

47328-Fable3_1-thumb-480x271-47326.jpg

Steve Jobs isn’t the only person equipped with a reality distortion field.

Peter Molyneux’s evangelism of the first Fable touted it as a revolutionary step forward for RPGs. It was a bold claim, but when it came from the man with as many accolades as Molyneux, you had to wonder whether or not he could actually pull it off.

Once Fable became reality, however, it came up short of what was promised – yet the undeniable charm and fairy tale whimsy glossing over what it didn’t bring to the dungeon had found an audience that loved it for what it was. For adventurers that didn’t like poring over statistics or lists of equipment, Fable’s simplified approach to role-playing was a welcome mat to what might have been an intimidating genre to many.
Continue reading

Review: Castlevania – Lords of Shadow (X360)

46477-castlevania_los_4-thumb-480x269-46476.jpg

It’s been five years since Castlevania’s last big outing on consoles, Curse of Darkness, whipped its way to shelves for the Xbox and PS2 – two years if anyone wants to count the wish-we-could-forget Wii-only fighting game, Judgement. While portables like the Nintendo DS and Sony’s PSP kept Konami’s storied franchise alive with hits such as Dawn of Sorrow, console fans have been left to wait for their own vampire killer. Now Lords of Shadow has finally arrived, complete with a Shakespearean read-along.
Continue reading

Devil May Cry rebooted, fans ragequit series

45597-DMC_reboot-thumb-200x112-45596.jpg

It’s been confirmed that the Devil May Cry series is getting a reboot courtesy of Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword, Enslaved) which Capcom has picked to lead the charge. And not everyone is happy about it.

The trailer and screenshots released at TGS (Tokyo Game Show) this week show off a new Dante delivering a beat down to a cadre of bizarre monsters. Not much else was released on just what the reboot was supposed to take place around, or whether this is a ‘different’ Dante from the one we know…like a different Belmont in Castlevania.

Now I don’t have any problem with a reboot as long as it’s done well, but after seeing the new trailer, I had to ask myself what was wrong with the series to need it. After having played through each of Dante’s adventures, even through DMC2, I didn’t think that things were left quite that bad after DMC4 to require throwing out everything and starting from scratch.

But fan reaction to the new star has been decidedly negative across the ‘net from Joystiq to Destructoid. “Horrible”, “emo”, and “addicted” were only a few of the adjectives used to describe the new Dante with one poster suggesting that a “retro costume pack” might be released later as DLC.

While I have no problem with a reboot if it’s good, or the game since nothing playable had come out yet, I can understand how a lot of those pointing out the new Dante as inspired by Twilight are upset.

And people thought Raiden was bad. This guy hasn’t even left his first trailer.