Posts Tagged ‘Combat’

The release of Darksiders back in 2010 was one of my favorite games at that time. An apocalyptic adventure that combined franchises including The Legend of Zelda, God of War, and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. All of this while starring as one of the legendary Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. War was an absolute badass in the first game as he took on the forces of Heaven and Hell on a quest to clear his name for the Apocalypse that wiped out the race of mankind. Now I get to enjoy more of the story, but this time I get to play as the Grim Reaper himself.

Darksiders 2, from THQ and Vigil Games, takes place alongside the events of the first game. This time I get to step into the role of Death who by the way looks like a combination of Casey Jones and Skeletor. The brother of War is on a mission to prove War’s innocence along with trying to restore the race of men. However, it looks like the forces of evil have other plans up their sleeves as they try to keep the remaining Horsemen out of the picture. Corruption runs deep within the roots of the Nether Realm, and Death believes that the Tree of Life has all the answers along with what could be the key to resurrecting humanity. Getting there however will be a challenge, but this Horseman is clearly up to the task.

The storyline in Darksiders 2 is enough to hook me in and not let go. It’s deep, engrossing, and made me want to see what happened next. When I had to stop playing due to work and sleep the game would start me back up where I left off last and give me a “Previously on Battlestar Galactica” moment to fill me in on the key events that took place before my last save. I like that. Of course there’s other features that made this sequel better than the original game yet stayed the course on it’s core mechanics which made the first Darksiders game successful.

The first thing about Darksiders 2 that amazed me is the sheer size of the world I traveled in. The Nether Realm is so much larger than the Apocalyptic Earth from the previous game. The realm is littered with towns, villages, and of course the treacherous dungeons all which stood between me and the Tree of Life. From the first moment I took off on my horse Despair I felt just like Link riding Epona in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. There’s so much to explore in the game which kept me busy for hours just riding around looking for secrets, killing random enemies, and collecting gold along with other loot.

Speaking of gold and loot, Darksiders 2 also improved on the action/adventure formula by adding some RPG elements. Side quests to detract from the main campaign, level ups, upgrading weapons, skill trees, gold instead of souls to collect for currency, constant loot from killed enemies that you can immediately equip, interacting with NPC characters including returning characters like Vulgrim and Samael. This game has it all and it’s awesome. As I was playing and picking up experience I became so impressed with the incredible amount of depth the game possesses. This is a huge step over what was presented in the original Darksiders which is a game that I still play even if the Portal gun moments near the end of the game drove me batshit crazy at times.

Now what do I like best about this game? Combat! With the ideal of if “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” this area is pretty much untouched from the original game. Hack and slash bloodletting with my scythes, axes, hammers, and more is awesome and fulfilling. Add in wrath attacks and the combos become sickening. Some may find this a little repetitive and boring, but I disagree. I find the God of War combo driven gameplay fun and exciting. Finishing moves are back again where with just the tap of a button will slice, dice, decapitate, and rip enemies into shreds. If not for the entertaining storyline, Darksiders 2 also substitutes as a great stress reliever when I have a tough day at work.

Darksiders 2 takes a huge leap over the original blockbuster hit and succeeds. It’s not a perfect game, but it really doesn’t need to be because it’s a lot of fun to play. The amazing storyline as well as the awesome combat and platforming elements make Darksiders 2 enjoyable and addicting enough to make me not want to put the controller down. Between both main characters I have to say that playing as Death is even more fun than playing as War. His appeal is astounding and with no Watcher to limit him makes Death a badass. With the main campaign, new game plus, the unlockable Crucible, and plenty of DLC on the way it’s safe to assume that Darksiders 2 will be around for a long time. Death lives, and it’s time for me to kick some more ass.

Developer: THQ, Vigil Games
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1
Price: $59.99

GAME STATUS: Quest Completed
ACHIEVEMENTS EARNED: 45 out of 61 (875 Gamerscore)

For my original review of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Click HERE.

The realm is safe once again. Tirnoch has been destroyed (quite easily I might add), Dead Kel is no longer a threat, and the Kollossae are free. The people can rest easy once again. Well not too easy considering the fact that there are plenty of baddies still in the woods, and there’s that part where I’m not in the good graces of the Warsworn. So I killed all the heads of the guild. You would think they would’ve forgiven me by now. Besides, the townspeople all forgiven me after constant looting, pickpocketing, and the occasional mass murder. Just another day in Amalur.

Resurrected from the depths of the dead sure worked out for me in this game. Throughout my adventure I felt like a death dealer as I destroyed everything in my path sort of like Kratos from God of War or even Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden. No enemy was safe from my hack and slash combo attacks along with some badass magic to boot. This was my favorite part of playing the game. No matter how tough an enemy was (couldn’t find one four levels higher than me to get that achievement) they still met the end of my blade or the blunt of my hammer making for some satisfying moments.

While I really enjoyed kicking ass on the screen, I did have a few problems. One has to do with all the bland dialog. Maybe I’m not too big on the whole fantasy angle, but the storyline at times really had me bored which led to me falling asleep for short periods only to wake up hoping that the dialog ended and the combat begun. Amalur is a loooong game, and when sleepiness started setting in between all the constant grinding that led to a big negative in the overall picture. Good thing I could press the “X” button to skip through the boredom faster.

I also had a problem with the game’s literally easy difficulty. I never met an RPG that was so light on the difficulty, and no I wasn’t playing on “easy” if your thinking that. Sure disposing a group of six to seven enemies at one time led to frustrating moments of being hit in all directions before using my “Reckoning” ability making everything super simple along with lots of XP. Even the bosses like the super-screen sized slug Balor met his end pretty quickly with no challenge whatsoever. That was really disappointing when all you have to do is hack the long nails when he sticks them into the ground. Even the final boss Tirnoch was no challenge. Sad.

AMALUR’S FINAL FATE

While my character had no fate, this game certainly did. After spending what felt like a few hundred hours traveling, discovering, committing crimes in front of a small audience, and easily dispatching foes in the heat of battle I felt that my time was done. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is fun, but I can’t see myself going through another quest. I might end up sleeping all day. My copy of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will now lie on the used game shelf for someone else to play. The ending was left open for further expansion, but due to the layoffs of 38 Studios and Big Huge Games (now a part of Epic Baltimore) we may never get to see a sequel.

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Big Huge Games, 38 Studios
Players: 1
Price: $59.99

Pros:
Fantastic presentation
Excellent combat system
So much to do and explore

Cons:
Storyline is a little bland
Voice acting is pretty bad at times
Not really an open world

Now before I get deep into this review let me just state that I’m not a big role-playing junkie. I don’t gather around a bunch of nerds who have no life and play Magic: The Gathering or even Dungeons and Dragons. However, I’ve been known to partake in some good addictive experiences like Final Fantasy, Phantasy Star, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. Skyrim has been my big RPG as of late, and I’m still trying to finish Fallout: New Vegas. Now it looks like I have another addiction to add to the growing collection, and it’s name is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.

So here’s the story…abridged of course so that I keep it as spoiler free as possible. You’re dead! No really…you died. The game starts with your death as your carried off by a pair of gnomes discussing exactly who and what you are. This is where you begin character customization with race, basic looks, and your name. Then your body is dumped into the Well of Souls where all of a sudden you are miraculously brought back to life, fight your way out for the well filled with corpses, and begin your quest. What exactly is your quest? Well that is all up to you because you’ll begin to find out that you have no fate. Your fate is all up to you. Know thyself. It’s what you choose to do that determines your ultimate destiny. I really like that about a game.

For your typical Western RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning features a fantastic presentation of role-playing goodness. However, I will tell you that the storyline is quite bland. After he opening moments and my eventual rebirth I found it hard to concentrate on the story because I was really focusing on the gameplay (which I’ll talk about later). Rest assured that most casual RPG players aren’t really going to care. The story is mostly told in text format as you talk to various NPC characters, and your given a bevy of responses to choose from which can determine whether your character is a do-gooder, or in fact an evil badass. Remember, you have ultimate fate. You can choose your own damn destiny.

Speaking of the NPC characters, some of the voice acting actually sounds pretty good. The other characters however sound terrible which will have you quickly pressing the skip button. Although, I do have go admit that one character in the opening village that was supposedly ill actually had me contemplating what was wrong. During an NPC conversation, I couldn’t tell of she was dying or about to have an orgasm right in front if me. I definitely had a good laugh on that one.

Now just like any RPG, your first thought other than combat has to do with exploration. Getting to know the lay of the land opens up what the genre does best. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning features some amazing looking scenery along with the various castles and villages filled with tons of  vibrant colors bringing the world to life. I love to explore to find new places as well as a few secrets sprinkled around the world. The world in Amalur is huge which might take you a long time to get around. The world map also allows for quick travel to previous locations you visited. While the world map is huge, the bad news is that it’s not as open like any of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games. Rest assured this is not a deal breaker whatsoever, because the scenery is well done even if there is not much land to tread through.

Ok, so I might have sounded a little negative with a couple of things, but these small nitpickings pale on comparison to how great this game really is. So what makes it great. It’s the gameplay. Anyone who loves third person action games like God of War, Darksiders, and Devil May Cry will fall in love with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. The fast paced, hack and slash, combo driven, real-time combat featuring plenty of swords, daggers, magic staffs, bow and arrows and more makes killing enemies and earning valuable XP is a lot of fun. By the way the finishing moves are also a sight to see. Magic also plays a role as you use fire, ice, lightning and more to destroy enemies. By the way magic works great when you mix it in combos. The combat system is great and found myself addicted into wanting to kill everything in sight. Sometimes I got so addicted that I would forget to heal myself if my health got too low and I ended up dying. The combat is that good.

With all the killing and questing that your completing, the XP will come in bunches. As you level up the customization of your character rises to new heights. Now if your familiar with games like a Borderlands and Dead Island, you will find the level up menu system easy to navigate and work as you spend points to use for upgrades. These class specific upgrades include extra damage with specific weapons, defense, and magic abilities. The usual RPG stuff. As I’ve leveled up I could really tell the difference my attacks were making along with the damage I took. Not many games can display that as well as Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning can.

Throughout the course of my adventures with Kingdoms of Amalur I found myself immersed in it’s unique world of adventure and fantasy. It was so hard to put down the controller, because I kept telling myself that I wanted to finish one more quest, gain one more level, or just make if to the next town just to say that I was there. From small basic enemies, to boss-like juggernauts, to making potions and forging weapons, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will hold you in it’s grip for long gameplay sessions making questing fun and entertaining (even if the storyline qualifies as “meh”) for all no matter how much of a fan of RPGs you are.

Let’s face it Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is clearly no Skyrim, but it’s solid gameplay and role-playing mechanics make it a worthy game that everyone should play. In my honest opinion, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is better than all three Fable games combined. After the first weekend I played the game I was hooked, and it’s hard to take me out of it’s fantasy world even if I want to go slay dragons and explore the open world of Skyrim. Role-Playing junkies should definitely give Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning a run because your clearly going to like it.

Pros:
Amazing looking graphics
Fantastic enemy AI makes for a challenging experience

Cons:
Multiplayer is nothing special
22GB install on Xbox 360 HDD

It’s time to once again return to the wasteland with Rage. Wait a minute. Is it me or does this recurring theme happen once before. The wasteland. Fallout 3, Borderlands, Mad Max. I feel like I’ve been here before. The truth is I have and each time it’s been fun. Now with Rage, I get to wander around the deadlands, kill some ugly mutants, and help save humanity from it’s latest problem. By the way, this game is a hell of a lot of fun as well. Then again this is id and their track record speaks for itself. Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake. Do I need to say more?

So here’s the scoop. In the year 2029, the asteroid Apophis is on a collision course for Earth. In the real world NASA has kept an eye on this particular asteroid and it has little threat to Earth in 2029 and in 2036 which makes it great for viewing with your telescope if your still alive because it will be very close to the Earth, but in the videogame world we all love doom and gloom here so let’s bring on the apocalypse shall we. Arks have been made to support humanity and your one of the lucky ones chosen to survive. You wake up over 100 years later after the impact with all of the crew in your Ark dead. As you come out of the Ark you notice that humanity has lived on, but the world is in shambles. Mutants, The Authority. They all want you dead or alive and it’s worth quite a bit of dough to them. Luckily, your hide is saved, but what you do next is all up to you.

Now let me get a few things straight before I go on with this review. For a while, people have been considering Rage as a cross between Fallout 3 and Borderlands. One thing it does have in common is it’s open world. However, that’s where all the similarities end. Rage is a first-person shooter. However, it is not an RPG. It also doesn’t have the the long running time like most RPGs have. You can finish the game in around 12-15 hours. For those of you who want to explore more, do sidequests (a good tip: talk to all the NPCs), find hidden goodies, and whore up achievements then the game will take a little longer. In the end it all comes down to how committed you are. Let me tell you that the majority of the missions are of the go fetch variety which kind of makes me wonder why your character woke up from the Ark in the first place, because it looks like in Rage you’ve become the latest version of “man’s best friend.”

So let’s talk a little bit about the whole commitment angle. Besides the storyline and sidequests, the graphical detail and framerate make up the other end of the spectrum. As a whole, Rage looks absolutely amazing. The graphical detail is second to none the best I’ve seen on the Xbox 360 to date. Sure it has the typical wasteland colors (aka a lot of shades of brown), the the level of detail found in this game will blow you away. There is a catch. This would be the disc install. To have Rage run at it’s best, id Software had recommended Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 players to install the game on thier hard drives. Playstation 3 owners need only 8GB of space. Xbox 360 owners need 22GB of free space for the three disc download. Holy shit that’s a ton of room for just one game. Good thing I have my 250GB HDD.

I also want to commend id Software on the enemy AI. Back in the early days of id with games like Wofenstein, the enemy AI was a little weak. Most of the enemies would just stand in place waiting for them to shoot you. Doom and Quake were much better and the AI put up more of a fight. Now with Rage the enemy AI can almost read your mind on how your going to kill them. OK, reading your mind is a little much, but see for yourself. Enemies will duck under cover, avoid shots by jumping out of the way, climb ceilings, and so much more. I love the fact that this AI, even on normal difficulty, will give you a challenge. One recommendation for everyone out there is when it comes to the use of weapons, use them all. I even suggest comboing with them for some cool death moments. The enemy AI will react to how you shoot them so you don’t have to always go for the head. Hell, I shot a mutant in the nuts and it was hilarious to watch them die no longer having any testicles attatched.

Multiplayer also plays a role here in Rage where you and some friends can play in some local splitscreen or against everyone else online. If your a fan of the Mad Max movies then you’ll find Rage’s ultiplayer interesting because it moslty broken up into races. That’s right wasteland survivors, there is no typical deathmatch style gunplay here. Shocking much? One of the game modes is basically a racing game while the other might fancy those who love Twisted Metal. It’s been awhile since we had some good vehicular combat and Rage will fill that spot. Players can use their vehicles and literally “rage” against other players in a demolition derby type of combat. This mode is a lot of fun to play while the racing portion was a pass for me. In my opinion that’s what racing games are for. Overall, multiplayer is nothing too special especially when there’s so many other titles out there.

Overall, I found Rage a great experience. Sure I’ve been to the wasteland about as many times as a World War II or zombie game, but each experience at times is fresh and unique. The most fun your going to get out of Rage will be how much you put into the game, and whether you want to do the disc install as well. id Software has always been known to take their time in making an epic game and Rage is a fantastic example to that moniker. Rage is clearly a buy so get it right now, or at least before the world ends in an asteroid collision. OK, that won’t happen in our lifetime, but I still suggest you buy the game.