Review – The Darkness 2

2 minutes into The Darkness 2, I felt powerful. 10 minutes in, I ripped someone apart with demon arms, spewing blood everywhere. An hour in, I could tear apart an entire town.

This is how The Darkness 2 will make you feel, and it really is a amazing. Sadly, this power is basically the only thing really going for this game, and even though it does a great deal to help it, The Darkness 2 is not really as good as the first game – to me anyway.

The appeal of the first Darkness was it’s story, and how emotionally connected you felt to Jackie Estacado, the game’s main character. All the people you know and love make a return in D2, but they really don’t feel as real as they did in the first game. This is largely due to the poorly constructed storyline – one that both takes too long to take off and ends too soon. You’ll only really be playing the D2 story for ~6 hours to be honest, which is really quite pathetic. The story is still full of twists and turns, but it really lacks the intrigue of the first game.

Combat, though, feels much better than in the first game. Shooting is much more fluid, and a new host of Darkness powers – including Quad Wielding, makes for amazing violence. Every time you kill someone up close, beautiful cell shaded drops of blood splatter all over your face, making the overall experience that much better. The AI is pretty clunky, and even on the hardest difficulty you won’t have too much trouble with death, especially with the health that you regain from executions.

Another addition to the game is the new Vendettas mode, which is a Co-Op mode that sends you on various different missions. You choose one of four characters, each with unique personalities, and go on a killing spree all over various destinations. Some of the things that these people say are ridiculous, which is a very nice touch. Vendettas gets bland pretty quickly – it really lacks challenge, but nonetheless, it helps to extend the replay value of an otherwise short title.

Aesthetic is pretty nice – all the places that you go to all seem different enough, but again, you don’t feel as immersed in the world of Jackie as you did in the original. The signature eerie Darkness atmosphere has pretty much disappeared, replaced with something less inspiring.

One other major gripe I have is with level design. Each level is just so linear – the world isn’t even semi open anymore. Every level you play just rushes you from start to finish, and apart from the odd relic to find, there’s no more exploration.

On a technical level, D2 is solid, but the FOV, which is locked at 60, may cause some problems for a few players. Just something to take note of.

The Darkness 2 is a departure from the first game, and whether you should get it or not really depends on what you liked about D1. If you enjoyed the exploration and emotional story, you’ll probably want to skip the sequel, but if your favourite part about the original was ripping apart people with Darkness, this game has exactly what you’re looking for.

Score – 7.5/10

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Wakfu – Review

Wakfu is a nice little mmorpg – tbs, that’s got me hooked for a while now. For anyone who’s familiar with Disgaea, Bastion, or any of the really old final fantasy games, you would be familiar with the Wakfu interface. With classic exploration and action-y combat, Wakfu is a nice game to check out when you’re bored. Although there are quite a few flaws and problems in the game, it is justified because it’s still just a beta. I am really looking forward to the real game, which contains well, bug fixes and new classes / items / etc. The distinct classes makes Wakfu a cool game to fool around with, as you can try every class, and try out their different skills. Abilities and skills are easy to level up, and you don’t really need to put too much consideration into it. Basically, it can be a very relaxing game to play with friends, or if you’re a try hard, you can spend lots of time and plan out various strategic points dependent on the class you chose.

The character design is nice and cute, but the sprites do need a bit more work, as it seems a bit too much like a flash game right now. The art fits it’s style, so I’m not too worried about that. Combat is simple, although it might seem confusing at the start, after a few fights, you’ll get the hang of it very fast.

The combat is simple. as I’ve already said. Choose your starting position, then you can choose to move 3 blocks (as you start with only 3 MP – Movement points), and you start with 6 energy to use on either a normal attack or a spell. You can see  the basic interface above^^

The biggest problem that I see with this game is the insane lag I get sometimes. I’m not sure if it’s the game itself, or if it’s the North America servers I’m playing on. One thing I know for sure is that it’s not my computer. Sometimes, lag spikes lasts up to 5 seconds, and in the middle of a combat (with a timer!), it’s very VERY frustrating.

Regardless, I would imagine that it would be a very interactive and fun game to play with a lot of friends, as you can join parties and go on quests and fight monsters like any other mmo. I’m just playing alone right now because no one wants to play this unknown game 😦 Still, I think it’s pretty interesting, and it’s free!!!! (and not limited beta <3) Even though I really liked this, there are too many problems with the game right now, so I can’t really give it a very high mark, but if the whole game ever comes out and I think that there are major improvements, I’ll definitely come back and make it higher ^_^

Overall, give it a try! If you don’t like it, then too bad, but if it appeals to you, then who knows, maybe it’ll become one of your favourite games 😀

Review – Batman: Arkham City

Arkham Asylum was an amazing game. It’s fluid combat, great atmosphere, and memorable characters and plot made it a blast to play. After such a great debut, all eyes were on Rocksteady as they neared the release of their second Batman game – Arkham City. And I tell you now, Rocksteady delivered one of the best action titles of all time. Arkham City kept everything that Asylum did well, and made many huge improvements.

Arkham City’s story is extremely memorable. Set four months after the events at the Asylum, Quincy Sharp, now the Mayor of Gotham, has built a sprawling megaprison in the heart of Gotham City. He’s transferred all the prisoners from BlackGate and Arkham Asylum to the new prison, appropriately named Arkham City. The new prison is run by Dr. Hugo Strange, and Batman has to go in and figure out what’s really going on within the walls of the prison. If you buy the game new, you also play an extra four missions as Catwoman. These Catwoman missions tie into the main plot perfectly, and even change the whole beginning of the story, which is one of the best starts to any game within the past 20 years. If you want to buy the game used, you get the option to buy the Catwoman DLC for $10. If you choose not to get Catwoman, you still get a complete story, but it won’t be as enjoyable as if you have Catwoman unlocked. The ending is a little anticlimactic, as it feels like that the game throws too much information at you at once, but other than that the story is very compelling.

People who played Arkham Asylum will be immediately familiar with the returning FreeFlow combat system. The premise is simple – Left Mouse to attack, Right to counter, and #s for gadgets, and it works extremely well. You always feel as powerful as you should as Batman, and you’ll never feel overwhelmed by 20 vs 1 situations. The other half of combat is taken up by Predator style gameplay. Here, you’ll be swinging through vantage points, attempting to survey your environment as best as you can, waiting for the best opportunity to silently take down your foes. The games delivers a healthy mix of both Predator and Arena style gameplay, and in lots of other situations you can pretty much choose how you want to engage your enemies. While playing as  Catwoman, you really do feel like Catwoman. You use a much more agile style of combat, and your gadgets function differently from Batman’s. It’s tough to create two distinct playable characters in a game that centres on one, and Rocksteady pulled it off perfectly. Boss fights are a little on the easy side, but become drastically tougher in the New Game Plus mode on Hard.

Movement is extremely similar to the first game. You still grapple your way across buildings, glide through the sky, and sprint across the ground. You get a few more ways to fly around, such as grapnel boosting, but there haven’t been any drastic changes. As Catwoman, you pounce across rooftops, using your whip to cling to buildings before jumping up them. Since you don’t fly, it’s harder to get around the city at a fast pace, so you’ll be running and jumping the whole time.

One of the great things about Arkham Asylum was the way in which it captured the overall atmosphere of the prison. Arkham City also manages to pull this off perfectly. Hearing prisoners nervously chat amongst themselves really helps establish the dreary mood of the City, and everywhere you go there are broken highways, ruptured ground, and torn posters. You really feel like you’re in Arkham City, which is something that most games don’t manage to do.

After you finish the story, there’s still plenty to do. Riddler challenges return, there are side quests to complete, trophies to find, and a new game plus (which is a  to finish. There’s tons of replay value here, and you’ll be playing for weeks after completing the main game.

However, even Arkham City has one big downfall. There’s one fatal bug that exists that wipes away all your saves randomly. The chance of encountering this is less than being struck by lightning, but just in case, back up your files, and you’ll be fine. I did encounter this bug when I was around 40% done the main story once, but I actually felt compelled to play it again. This doesn’t happen with many games, but it did with this one, so that says something.

Overall, Arkham City is amazing. It is one of the best games of the past decade, and you should play it.

DLC

Nightwing Bundle – $6.99. 8/10 value.

Robin Bundle – $6.99. 8/10 value.

Arkham City Skins Pack – $4.99. 5/10 value.

Challenge Missions Pack – $2.99. 6.5/10 value.

Alice: Madness Returns Review

So here we are again with another “bad” game. This is Alice: Madness Returns, a generic 3rd person action game based in one of the most beautiful game worlds I’ve ever laid my eyes upon. After an hour of gameplay, you can immediately tell that the devs here put twice as much effort into the overall aesthetic vs. the actual game. What this results in is the best game this year that no one actually played.

Alice’s story is pretty unoriginal. You’re Alice, the girl from the fairy tale, and your mind is one messed up place. Alice’s parents died in a fire, and you now live at an orphanage with a psychologist. It’s still not clear to me what the point of the story is, but basically one day you’re walking down a road, and suddenly a bunch of monsters appear, and you fall back down the rabbit hole into Wonderland.

That brings me to my main point. As soon as you land in Wonderland, you wish that Alice was an open world game where you can explore endlessly, killing monsters and taking on quests. It’s just that good. Every piece of rock has had so much work put into it. Every wall distinct, every cave unique. Sadly, what you get is not an open world, but a linear 3rd person action/platforming crossover that makes every effort in ensuring that exploring Wonderland is as unappealing as possible. There are secrets hidden everywhere, but these are so common and easy to find that you just won’t go looking for them. In one stage of the game, there’s pretty much 10 looong caves around a foot away from each other, each containing a memory, which is basically a 5 second narrative of Alice’s dad speaking. That is not fun exploring.

Combat is also very tiring and predictable. I’ve fought 2 bosses so far, and they’ve been essentially the exact same thing. Every battle is basically this – Dodge, Slash, Dodge, Slash, Dodge, Slash, rinse and repeat. Enemies still look amazing, but again, are pretty much just the same. Once you figure out an enemy’s attack animation, all you do is dodge when it’s about to attack. There’s just no variation.

Then there’s the platforming. You’ll be jumping off mushrooms that look good enough to make a gourmet dish out of, but don’t be fooled, this is no Mario. Platforming is basically the polar opposite of combat – there’s too much variation. Moving platforms are way too common, and in some cases, don’t start moving until you’re right on top of them. This means that instead of aiming to jump on a platform, you want to jump around a foot left from it. And you don’t know that until you die and respawn. Luckily, if you die, you start right upon the last platform the you made it on to. This is very forgiving, but doesn’t change the fact that platforming is frustrating.

Oh, and one other thing – DO NOT PLAY THIS WITH KEYBOARD AND MOUSE. Keyboard controls make absolutely no sense at all, and even rebinding keys doesn’t help. If you want to play this game, I suggest you go buy a gamepad immediately.

Since I want to love this game, and want you to as well, I shall give it a pretty good rating and say this – if you play it in short bursts, you should enjoy it.

Prototype Review

Prototype is…. too fun. It has pretty bad reviews, and some quite a few technical and gameplay issues, but that doesn’t change the fact that this game might just become one of your favourite open world games of all time. Basically, you play a badass who’s been infected by a disease that gives him all sorts of ridiculous powers. You can morph your body into all sorts of different weapons, like blades, claws, or whips. The story is nothing great, it’s a pretty uninspired, cliché dark tale of revenge. But you don’t play Prototype for it’s story. You’ll be flying around New York spending endless hours ripping apart infected, destroying military bases, and grinding enough points to be able to unlock that ability that you’ve always wanted.

Alright, now that we’re done with that, let’s look at some of Prototype’s issues.

One major issue is the amount of texture pop in. Prototype introduces you to collectable orbs that you can redeem for points, but the problem is that you can’t see them. Why is this? Well, they pop in as soon as you step on them. This pretty much takes away the whole purpose of even trying to find these orbs, as you’ll be preetty hard pressed to find any of them without being right up close. Pop in exists in other parts of the game too. In a cutscene, there will be a road full of infected. This is great and all, but in the middle of the scene, around 50 cars pop up in the middle of the road. Really?

Combat also has some annoying issues. There’s nothing really wrong with combat, but sometimes, once heat builds up and you’re ripping people apart by the masses, there will be close to 20 enemies taking shots at you. This is a problem, as you are far from invincible, and pretty much all your attacks are melee range. The sole way to deal with a crowd of enemies shooting at you is to run away, and hope that you can find cover to change disguises. And let’s face it, who likes running away?

Other than that, Prototype is a great game, and probably some of the most fun that you’ll have. If you can get over the whole “Prototype sucks because of technical issues” thing, you should enjoy it immensely.