The next few missions employ virtual reality to help you get acquainted with your cool new "cyber abilities". You can hack into flying drones and take control of them. You can unleash "nanobots" to swarm enemies. You can make robots spontaneously combust. The intensity runs high as you shoot your way through a train in the snow, forge through a city during a hurricane, and escape a flooding underground research facility. The gunfights can be confusing, especially with robots fighting on both sides! I noticed a lot of female screams as I mowed down enemy soldiers. Some may characterize this as "progress" but to me it's off-putting. My favorite parts of the game are when you control a turret on a jeep or boat, blowing up everything in sight while on a high-speed thrill ride.
The campaign mode in Black Ops III is so convoluted it makes that new Terminator Genisys movie seem downright sensible. Of course many gamers are only in this for the online multiplayer anyway. I gave that a whirl but found myself out of my league, pitted against players with superior firepower and armor. I did find it interesting to listen in on several Asian guys discussing the action, possibly on the other side of the world!
If Asian dudes aren't your thing there's an offline multiplayer that lets you battle friends via split-screen. You can even play solo against an army of CPU-controlled bots! If that's not enough there's a slew of bonus games including Bioshock-inspired Zombie mode and Smash TV-inspired "Dead Ops 2" overhead shooter (complete with pixelated cut-scenes). These bonus modes aren't especially fun but it sure was nice of Activision to include them. The Call of Duty formula may be running on fumes, but the sheer amount of play value in Black Ops III is off the charts. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
As jaded as I am of Call of Duty, the white-knuckle campaign still gets my blood pumping. Advanced weaponry includes rifles that unleash lighting and spider-like grenades that climb on enemies. There's a special grenade that suspends gravity in a limited area, letting you to pick off floating soldiers like fish in a barrel. During land battles you can call in airstrikes to inflict widespread damage or hack enemy robots to turn them against their own side. Robots and mechs serve on your side as well, including a friendly robot soldier named Ethan who serves up comic relief with his human-like responses ("You're making me blush sir!")
Infinite Warfare is action-packed but it suffers the same issues as previous entries, notably a convoluted storyline and difficulty telling the good guys from bad. Some action sequences seem to be on autopilot, yet you won't dare let go of the controls. Sadly the new space battles and the zero-gravity gunfights are the least enjoyable parts of the game. I also detected a glaring lack of controller vibration - especially when my ship was clearly being jostled on the screen.
The split-screen mode multiplayer mode is enjoyable but limited to two players. I guess Activision lost the technology to split the screen four ways. Still, as a person who avoids human interaction, it's nice to be able to play a 6-on-6 deathmatch with bots. Infinite Warfare has its share of thrills but I found it hard to get excited about this. The developers tried to shoot for the stars but it feels like they were grasping at straws. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
The "races" are a confusing mess. It's rarely evident where you're supposed to go and those concrete barriers strewn about aren't helping! The steering controls are horrific and you get stuck so often there's a button dedicated to resetting you back on the road. It's tough to get back on track yourself when a dozen CPU cars are just plowing into you. Once I got hit so hard my car flew 100 feet straight into the air. How is that even possible?
When I started seeing "wrong checkpoint" messages I just said to hell with it and started ramming everybody else. Destroying other cars is a far more entertaining way to win, but the weapon system is needlessly confusing. The third way to win is by running over all the pedestrians (including elderly folks and people in wheelchairs) but with 700+ people in every level that would take forever!
The one redeeming feature of the game is the visual treat of hammering your car back into shape by holding in the triangle button. Carmageddon is a bunch of off-the-wall concepts that never really gel into anything worthwhile. The lack of split-screen is just further indication of the lack of effort put into this game. The language is so bad I wouldn't recommend it for kids, and the game is so bad I wouldn't recommend it for adults. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
The original versions of Corpse Killer were constrained by limited resolution and color palettes, but here you get crisp, colorful, full-screen video. In some ways the enhanced visuals work against the game, exposing its bad acting, laughable effects, and rock-bottom production values. Winston the Rastafarian does a good job playing the Jamaican guide but the female journalist Julie might as well be reading off a cue card. Vincent Schiavelli has a great time hamming it up as the mad doctor villain.
The simple gameplay involves moving a crosshair around the screen, shooting zombies that shamble (and float) in from graveyard, swamp, and village scenery. Some of these creeps look downright goofy, as if the director recruited a bunch of his drinking buddies to lend a hand. You can use the trigger to speed up the cursor and not having to reload is refreshing. It's a shame there's no light gun support.
Back in the day I recall the zombies meeting their demise in a fountain of blood but here there's just a light red spray. The highlight of the game is shooting special glowing zombies, causing all the others on the screen to instantly pop like balloons. I love that. There are also stage select screens and the ability to toggle weapons. I enjoyed the tropical scenery which incorporates interesting locations like a galleon, graveyard, and a deserted old fort.
Corpse Killer may seem shallow at first but to make progress you'll need to learn its subtle nuances. Bonus content includes video clips and a 34-page behind-the-scenes booklet. I'm not going to pretend Corpse Killer is a classic, but this slice of the 1990's FMV scene is pretty entertaining. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Once the game gets its footing however it's just like old times - literally! The opening stage reprises the very first Crash Bandicoot (PS1, 1996) stage, with the same jungle scenery and upbeat steel drum music. I have to admit it felt good, especially with these crisp new controls! It's a pleasure exploring the lush environments, spinning creatures off the screen, and smashing crates for fruit bonuses. Fruit now gravitates toward you so you don't have to gather it up.
Crash 4 exudes a wonderful sense of atmosphere, especially in the damp temples with their echos and illuminated wall paintings. At certain points of your journey the camera tips upward, giving you an exciting preview of what's ahead. The stages are pretty much limited to a set path, but there are occasional areas to explore off to the sides. Some of the new worlds are quite imaginative. The pirate zone is grand in scope, with so much going on it's like being on a movie set. The Mardi-Gras inspired New Orleans zone is positively electric with its colorful lights and ghostly bands.
The camera remains close behind Crash as you move, letting you savor the intricately designed enemies, like the octopus with a sword in each tentacle. Depth perception is a problem however, especially when grabbing ropes or sliding under fences. As if the developers saw this coming, they inserted a well-defined yellow circle under Crash whenever he's in the air. The controls are fairly easy, although having to hold O while hitting X to perform a super double jump tied my fingers in knots. One new mechanic is the "phase shift" that makes platforms and obstacles appear and disappear with a press of a button. While cool at first, it's so overused it eventually made my brain hurt.
Another new ability is this crazy purple tornado spin that obliterates everything in your path, as well as letting you glide great distances. Crash's jet ski is back and the game even incorporates wall-running. The question is, why did this game have to be so hard? The boss encounters are long and onerous, with one false move forcing you to restart. Advanced stages ditch exploration for timed linear sections with zero margin for error. Welcome to the land of one-hit deaths! I stopped bothering with the bonus stages altogether as they are just aggravating.
I have no idea how the life or health system works in Crash 4. There's a wildly fluctuating number in the upper right but I seem to have unlimited lives. The lighthearted cut-scenes are entertaining thanks to the hilarious facial expressions of the characters, but I wish the game itself was as casual and easy-going. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
New additions include the titular Scholar of the First Sin who serves as an alternate final boss. There's also an alternate ending and three new areas to explore. Brume Tower features soaring towers with massive chains acting as bridges between them. Eleum Loyce is a beautiful frozen castle and Shulva is an underground series of Mayan-like pyramids. I had fun fighting my way through these, but it's important to note that they are ridiculously difficult even by Dark Souls standards. Even places you've already seen are worth revisiting for the updated graphics. Drangleic Castle looks freaking stunning!
But despite all the extra features this isn't the definitive Dark Souls 2 experience you might expect. Instead of just adding new content the developers decided to tinker with stage designs with varying degrees of success. Enemies have been redistributed and sometimes replaced with recycled bosses. The Dragon Aerie location is much more tolerable now that you're not being swarmed by enemies. Heide's Tower of Flame and Black Gulch on the other hand are so loaded with enemies that can poison you or knock you off cliffs that they're no longer fun. I know Dark Souls is supposed to be hard, but it has to be fair too! It seems the developers simply changed things for the sake of changing them. Dark Soul fans might appreciate the new content but newcomers would be better served sticking with the original. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
DS3 is a real-time combat RPG where every attack, dodge, and block is governed by a stamina meter. Playing defensively is the best course of action, so you'll spend over half the game with your shield raised. DS3 is every bit as difficult as its predecessors but if you take your time and learn the enemy's attack patterns victory will be yours. Souls collected from each defeated enemy let you level up. You lose these souls when you die but have one chance to retrieve them before they're gone forever. There's a class for every play style including knights, wizards, and thieves, but leveling up wisely can net you the skills of multiple classes.
The stage layout is an interesting blend of the first two games, being maze-like as in Dark Souls 1 yet mostly separated as in Dark Souls 2. The locations have never looked better as you travel from snowy cities to poisonous swamps to mountain-top castles with breathtaking views. Veterans may even notice a few locations and characters from the first game. But it's the bosses that really steal the show. Not only are they visually stunning but each has a distinctive fighting style that forces you to adapt to their tactics. There are giants riding each others' backs, armored psychopaths who crawl on all fours, and even mobs of enemies you can get to turn on each other. Some boss encounters tested my patience but most of them had me glued to the TV for hours on end. Dark Souls 3's unflinching difficulty may scare off new players but for longtime fans this is the perfect send off for a stellar, beloved franchise. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
You play the descendant of a deceased nobleman who bequeathed his castle to you with the stipulation you destroy the monsters lurking in its dungeons. You begin by building a party of four quirky heroes. Once outfitted you'll guide the party through randomly-generated dungeons with simple goals like exploring every room or defeating all enemies. The element of stress is a major factor, and while novel it's where DD falls apart. In addition to your party's health you now have stress meters to worry about. Being injured in battle, exploring in the dark, or even playing the game for too long stresses out your party, potentially driving them insane. You can cure them back in town, but it's expensive and just a temporary measure until they venture out and go crazy again. Coming from a guy who gave Dark Souls 3 an A+, trust me when I say Darkest Dungeon is just too freaking hard! If designed to make you feel helpless and in-over-your-head, they nailed it!
Unlike the skills-based Dark Souls, the inherent randomness of DD's turn-based combat means you're always at the mercy of the computer. Plan and strategize all you want, none of it will matter if the game decides you're not going to win. And you will lose a lot. Since death is permanent, losing your favorite hero and having to grind up a new one is time-consuming and demoralizing. I do admire the attention to detail and respect the developers for not pandering to the casual market. At the end of the day however it feels like the game is actively preventing you from having fun. Few will have the patience and determination to see it all the way through Darkest Dungeon, and many will be miserable. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
The game's tutorial is a good use of three minutes. The button scheme takes some getting used to, and I'm still not exactly sure what square does. The attack buttons are highly responsive and it's cool how you can tap R1 to unleash a devastating barrage. DOA6 is an offensive-minded fighter. Matches tend to be short but they have a nice ebb-and-flow. In the tradition of the series there's plenty of combos, counters, and yes, juggles. Devastating moves unfold in slow-motion, but instead of blood there's just a lot of sparks.
I love how battles seamlessly transition from one environment to the next. Cinematic cut-scenes add excitement, like when a kraken grabs a fighter off the deck of a burning pirate ship! The uptempo music is first-rate, striking a 1990's guitar vibe. There are plenty of offline modes to select from but none quite hit the spot for me. The disjointed story mode has a million branching storylines and constant load screens. Can't I just pick one storyline and play that out?
The Quest mode is mission-based, laying out several goals per stage to earn rewards. It's not very hard and if you struggle to pull off a move the game refers to you to the proper tutorial. The arcade mode is my usual go-to but offers little sense of progression. Most arcade modes culminate with a boss and ending, but this is just a series of random matches. High scores are saved for each skill level at least. Overall Dead or Alive 6 delivers visceral fighting action but lacks the cohesive structure to hold it all together. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
You begin in Deadpool's filthy apartment where you may witness a few gross-out moments. The action begins in a sewer before making your way up into an office building, dispatching goons that pour out of the woodwork. Deadpool effortlessly slices and dices enemies while darting all over the place. Not only can he teleport through enemies, but he can slice through them in the process. The third-person shooting provides a nice change of pace, and I love the way Deadpool blindly fires over his shoulders while running away from an enemy.
The gore is satisfying but the cookie-cutter enemies and hack-n-slash mayhem gets repetitive. In tight areas the camera struggles to keep up, but don't stop pounding those buttons! The boss encounters can be hell on the wrist. But just when you start to lose interest some bizarre twist or rip-roaring action sequence occurs, putting a big smile on your face.
Ryan Reynolds doesn't perform the voice acting but that doesn't blunt the impact of the wicked humor and non-stop zingers. "If that hit you in the chest, I'm sorry - I was aiming for your crotch!" "Could we seriously not afford better bad guys?" "A power-down switch? Clearly a video game!" The writing is consistently clever and often self-referential. Deadpool doesn't just break the fourth wall; he demolishes it.
Surprises come early and often, including one area that plays like an 8-bit Zelda stage! Other Marvel characters make appearances, and in one scene you actually get to bitch-slap Wolverine! It's amazing that Marvel gave the green light to some of this stuff. Deadpool is one seriously ballsy game. It may be an average brawler at heart, but there's something to be said for its unbridled enthusiasm. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Dirt 4 doesn't offer many surprises and that's part of the problem. The rally circuit is a series of mind-numbing time trials through point-to-point stages. The countryside courses are super curvy so you'll need to use finesse with the accelerator, brake, and handbrake. The controls are excellent but the tracks aren't much fun to drive. Long and featureless, they seem computer-generated. The roads are extremely narrow and it seems like you're always on a ridge. Fail to make a clean turn and you end up in a ravine. It's not the end of the world though because the game resets you back on the track.
Weather conditions like fog add challenge but the shade effects have too much contrast, making it hard to see the road in sunny conditions. Your female wingman guides you through the course with rapid-fire instructions: "Left five 250 dip right right don't cut turn hairpin left bump 60 caution crest left two right six don't cut caution". The problem is, I can't stand her voice and there's no option to change it! The engine sounds are so full of static I had to check to see if there was something wrong with my surround sound system. The musical soundtrack kicks ass, so why can't I just listen to that instead?
Dirt 4 is supposed to adjust the difficulty based on your skill, but I found myself having to crank it way up on my own. My main goal was to reach the snow stages, which took forever. And while racing on roads lined with two feet of snow in Sweden is sweet, I'm not convinced it was worth the effort. Other modes let you race other cars on tracks but the courses are confusing and I got tired of racing around the same ones over and over. Whenever I completed a race in this game I was just glad it was over. There's no split-screen mode because Codemasters doesn't have the technology. My friends Eric and Brad were pretty psyched about this game but quickly lost interest. Dirt 4 may just be the most overrated game I've played on my PS4. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
On top of everything, there's constant anxiety about the possibility of killing people and stuff like that. Who needs it? This is what Distracted Driver is all about. This little slice-of-life title puts your meddle to the test, bombarding you with every distraction you can think of. Quick-time events let you make life-or-death decisions on the fly. Do you stay in your lane or answer that text with a witty retort? Oh sure you could steer clear of that old lady, but what if you're in the middle of taking the perfect selfie? And as always, keep an eye out for cops who want to take away all your fun.
Fortunately you can hold R2 to hold your cell phone low to your lap. No one can tell you're using your phone! Getting to work safely and racking up enough Facebook "likes" is a delicate balancing act, and there are times when a pedestrian might just need to "take one for the team". If there's a problem with Distracted Driver, it's that the game might just be a little too real! © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
After their car breaks down in the desert our heroes Billy and Jimmy are attacked by Mad Max-looking dudes in masks. It's fun to knock these guys out by chucking knives at their heads! The action soon moves into an underground bunker inhabited by scary bald guys and aerobics instructors. Expect a lot of familiar faces from past Double Dragons like the big guy who magically disappears, leaving his mask behind.
Your basic attacks are kicks, punches, and jump-kicks. After grappling with a foe you can knee him in the stomach, elbow him in the face, or toss him over your shoulder. Most enemies don't wear out their welcome. If you smash a boulder over a guy's head, he blinks and disappears just like in real life. The collision detection is a bit off but this usually works in your favor so don't complain.
While the stages are limited to 8-bit resolution, a few of the backdrops look nearly digitized. I especially like the changing scenery of the train stage as you pass lakes and bridges. The foreground graphics could use a little more detail; the casino looks awfully plain. When the screen scrolls there's an unsightly "tearing" effect that doesn't hamper the gameplay but certainly doesn't look good.
Double Dragon IV's old-school charm diminishes as you advance through the game. During later waves once you're surrounded by goons you'll get batted around relentlessly. Try to jump away you'll just get swatted out of the air! Upon getting up off of the ground your character automatically performs a super attack like a cyclone spin or uppercut. If not for these unblockable moves you might not be able to get in any hits at all!
The soundtrack is a nice combination of synth and grinding guitar music. I played Double Dragon IV with a few friends and they thought it was enjoyable enough. Had they gotten further into the game however they may have changed their tune. At one point the game actually crashed on me, leaving me with a nasty error message. I can appreciate what the developers were trying to do with Double Dragon IV; I just wish they had done a better job. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com