Review: Street Fighter X Tekken

59419-Street Fighter X Tekken-thumb-480x270-59418.jpg

By Tony Maher
Contributor

“Street Fighter X Tekken,” the latest crossover fighting game, is great start to finish. The title maintains what made each of these franchises into classics, and introduces new accents to keep it interesting. Although each franchise has added recent releases to their histories, Street Fighter X Tekken seems to stay true to the original formulas that made the originals so legendary.

Since the days of my youth, “Street Fighter” has been the series I compare all other fighting games to. I spent many a quarter battling my friends at Maxwell Street Pizza with Ryu, Ken, Guile and the gang for the title of current champion. I honestly cannot count the hours we spent playing Street Fighter on any available system. Since then, there have been many different versions of Street Fighter and many other fighting games. Few of those, however, could hold a Hadouken to the original Street Fighter 2. But Street Fighter X Tekken is excellent as a new incarnation of an old breed.

Continue reading

Review: Resident Evil – Operation Raccoon City (X360)

59339-RE_ORC_7-thumb-480x300-59338.jpg

Capcom’s Resident Evil series has gone through a lot of changes over the years, some good some bad, and Operation Raccoon City’s laser focus on its third-person action is one of the series’ riskiest moves. Eschewing terror for bullets, the game asks players to go back to where it all started and to see things from the bad guy’s perspective.
Continue reading

Review: Mass Effect 3

59242-MassEffect3-thumb-480x270-59241.jpg

In almost any other circumstances, it would be easy to proclaim Mass Effect 3 to be a triumph. But these are not ordinary circumstances for the science fiction saga.

Mass Effect 3 is a tremendously entertaining game that provides moments of exhilaration, humor, horror and even heartbreak as players experience the story of a desperate war being fought across the Milky Way.

Indeed, Mass Effect 3 could have earned a place as one of the best games of all time, but these are unusual times for Mass Effect fans. Although the game has much to praise, some questionable business practices on the part of the developers at BioWare and publishers at EA Games may result in the game being remembered more for the sudden fan backlash that has overshadowed news of its release.

At this point, it’s impossible to review Mass Effect 3 in a vacuum and ignore the anger the game’s conclusion has aroused among many of it’s fans. I don’t want to spoil the ending in this space, and I think much of the anger is overblown, but the reaction is understandable given that fans expected Mass Effect 3 to provide a conclusion to one ambitious stories to be told in the history of video games.

Instead, BioWare provided an open-ended climax that has many fans expressing worry on Internet forums that the developers and publishers plan to charge players extra to download a “real” ending. Other fans are even petitioning the game’s makers to rewrite Mass Effect 3′s climax.

The reaction to the game’s conclusion follows the discontent that greeted news that players who did not buy the game’s more expensive Collector’s Edition would have to pay an extra $10 to download “From Ashes,” content that previously was said to be only available to those who bought the Collector’s Edition.

Players and publishers have yet to reach a consensus on where to draw a line between deciding how much content should be included in games’ retail editions and what can be withheld as downloadable content, and the circumstances of Mass Effect 3′s release have highlighted how strongly many players object to publisher’s embrace of DLC.

Those issues, important to the future of gaming as a business, should not obscure the strong evidence in support of Mass Effect 3 being a very good game. As in the franchise’s previous chapters, Mass Effect 3 boasts well-developed human and alien characters and players assuming the role of protagonist Commander Shepard will have to make occasionally painful decisions that determine the fates of beloved characters and entire planets, including earth.

Continue reading

Review: Asura’s Wrath (X360)

59186-asuraswrath_1-thumb-480x270-59185.jpg

Asura’s Wrath is an unusual game. It’s short, at around five or six hours, and heavily scripted with Quick Time Events telling you what to do. It’s a wash of chaos, blinding colors, and cosmic explosions interrupted only by a little story daring to pause the relentless face punching it delivers.

In some ways, it’s also like a series of anime episodes complete with “to be continued” in between each act as its Unreal Engine powered leads ponder their next step before launching into even more over-the-top madness. But with as much hand holding as there is, there’s fun to be found here.
Continue reading

Review: Kingdoms of Amalur – Reckoning (PS3)

58565-amalur_2-thumb-480x284-58564.jpg

Bethesda Softworks’ first Elder Scrolls game, Arena, took FRPGs by storm in ’94 packaging an entire continent on a set of eight 3.5″ discs requiring only 25MB of space on your hard drive and experiencing it all in first-person.

The randomly generated terrain and quest system created the illusion of endless adventure spanning a vast wilderness rife with cities, isolated towns, secrets, swamps, and barren deserts. Nearly 20 years later, new entries into the series herald hundreds of hours of lost productivity and countless memes as players take extended vacations into the worlds that Bethesda crafts under its banner.

Others have also tried, with varying success, to emulate that success and now 38 Studios’ freshman effort has boldly staked its own claim. After years in development and with EA taking on the publishing duties on this sandbox, history could be repeating itself.
Continue reading

Review: Soul Calibur V

Soul Calibur V leaves a good first impression, but after putting some time into the game, one discovers that this (mostly) sword-fighting game is not going to earn itself a place in the book of legendary titles.

The latest chapter in the Soul Calibur series begins with a quite impressive opening scene that builds a desire to jump right into the game. Soul Calibur V’s story mode is typical for a fighting game. The hero goes through a series of battles until you reaching an
over-the-top end guy. Where Soul Calibur V starts to fall short, however, is in the development of the hero character, Patroklos. He comes off as whiny, ill tempered and it seems as though
he kills innocent people because he believes them to be “malfested.” These traits make it
very difficult to get behind the character and root for him to win.


Continue reading

Review, Part Two: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

58072-Skyward Sword bird riding-thumb-480x269-58071.jpg

“The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” is a game that, despite some frustrating moments, is a title that features some of the greatest experiences in any recent game or the venerable Zelda franchise.

This is the second part of a review I wrote based upon my first impressions of Skyward Sword. After completing the main quest, and then spending considerable time trying to decide what, exactly, I should write about the game, I find that many of more initial impressions remain unchanged.

In short, that means Skyward Sword is an excellent, if imperfect, game that should entertain any Zelda fan. Its successes, however, are largely built upon a foundation of previous Zelda titles. Although Nintendo’s promotion of the Wii’s motion controls can be considered a bold attempt to change the way players approach games, I can’t help but feel the Zelda series is needs a major shake-up when its time for the next chapter.

Continue reading

Review: Pushmo

57738-pushmo-thumb-480x581-57737.jpeg

Pushmo, the downloadable puzzle title for the Nintendo 3DS, is a clever game that should appeal to most players looking for a little brain exercise.

Like any good puzzle game, Pushmo is challenging enough to allow players feel smart without being hard enough to make them feel dumb. For the most part, at least. I have to admit that I got stuck in a few parts, but for most of the early puzzles can be solved in a minute or less and the game does a good job of teaching the core mechanics before real difficulty starts to set in.

Continue reading

Review: Rayman Origins

57429-Rayman Origins-thumb-480x270-57428.jpg

Rayman Origins is one of the best games of 2011, and it’s a shame that so few people have bothered to notice it.

The game, a 2D platformer, succeeds in its absolute refusal to be anything like most of this year’s most popular games, while staying true to the traditions laid down by many a classic from the 8- and 16-bit eras. Rayman Origins is a game in which nothing has to make sense, but everything is supposed to be fun.

The title also earns distinction as one of the most beautiful releases for the current or any generation of console games. Rayman Origins’ rich, painterly character designs and layouts are as vibrant as the sights one may see in the best animated films. Indeed, playing the game is like playing a cartoon.

Continue reading

Review, Part One: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

57325-DragonFight-thumb-480x270-57324.jpg

By Jahmal Peters
Contributor

What hasn’t been said about Bethesda’s latest installment in the Elder Scrolls series?

Critical acclaim? Definitely.

Game of the year candidate? Without question.

A vast open ended environment with hundreds of hours of replayability? It’s been said.

Quite possibly the best way to sum up Skryim would be to say this review is late is because all the reviewers are still playing it.

Continue reading