system Index D-G
Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin
Grade: C+
Publisher: Bandai Namco (2015)
Reviewed: 2017/12/27
Rating: Teen (blood, violence, mild language, partial nudity)

screenshotReview contributed by DaHeckIzDat of the RPG Crew and edited by the VGC.
Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin (SotFS) is essentially the Dark Souls 2 "Game of the Year" Edition. SotFS bundles all of the extra content created after the original release with impressive upgraded graphics to boot. For those not familiar, Dark Souls 2 is a tough-as-nails action-RPG with real-time combat. There are no throwaway enemies; all have the potential to be deadly if you're not careful. 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.
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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Dragonstomper (Atari 2600)
Dark Souls 2 (Guest Review) (Playstation 3)
Dark Souls 3 (Guest Review) (Playstation 4)
Mystic Castle (Intellivision)
NBA Jam Tournament Edition (Super Nintendo)

Dark Souls 3
Grade: A+
Publisher: Bandai Namco (2016)
Reviewed: 2018/9/25
Rating: Mature (blood and violence)

screenshotReview contributed by DaHeckIzDat of the RPG Crew and edited by the VGC.
After a somewhat lackluster reception for Dark Souls 2 it's good to see that FromSoftware brought their "A" game for the trilogy's grand finale. Not much has changed but Dark Souls 3 (DS3) is about as close to perfection as one could hope for. Set centuries after the first game, you are a warrior seeking out the Lords of Cinder in an effort to delay the onset of a shadowy apocalypse. Like every Souls game the story is deep but not overwrought. Suffice to say there's a bunch of really big dudes scattered across the world and it's your job to find and kill them. 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.
1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Dark Souls 2 (Guest Review) (Playstation 3)
Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin (Guest Review) (Playstation 4)
Demon's Souls (Guest Review) (Playstation 3)
Dark Souls (Guest Review) (Playstation 3)
Bloodborne (Alternate Review) (Guest Review) (Playstation 4)

Darkest Dungeon
Grade: D
Publisher: Red Hook Studios (2016)
Reviewed: 2020/9/10
Rating: Teen

screenshotReview contributed by DaHeckIzDat of the RPG Crew and edited by the VGC.
Let me begin by stating the presentation of Darkest Dungeon (DD) is second to none. Every character model is hand-drawn in a gothic storybook style, making it feel like you're playing an Edgar Allen Poe story. The dungeons are appropriately creepy with atmosphere thick enough to cut with a knife. I especially like the deep-voiced narrator who describes everything in gruesome detail. There's a lot to like about this rogue-like RPG, so it's a shame they had to ruin it! 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.
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Bloodborne (Alternate Review) (Guest Review) (Playstation 4)
Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin (Guest Review) (Playstation 4)
Fatal Labyrinth (Guest Review) (Genesis)
Venture (Colecovision)
Dark Souls 3 (Guest Review) (Playstation 4)

Dead or Alive 6
Grade: C+
Publisher: Koei Tecmo (2019)
Reviewed: 2019/12/18
Rating: Mature 17+ (language, sexual themes, violence)

screenshotWith most new 3D fighters focused on online play it's refreshing to play Dead or Alive 6. This throwback delivers crisp arcade fun with bright graphics and quick, satisfying matches. The Dead or Alive series has traditionally been known for its scantily-clad ladies using their heaving bosoms to show men how physics works. Who says science is boring? Koei doesn't play up that angle too much this time. Oh sure you still have perfect beauties like Kasumi and Hitomi, but this time they are actually wearing clothes. Heck, Marie Rose is wearing bloomers for Pete's sake! 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.
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Dead or Alive 5 (Xbox 360)
Bloody Roar 2 (Playstation)
Dead or Alive (Playstation)
Dead or Alive 2 (Dreamcast)
King of Fighters 95 (CD) (Neo Geo)

Grade: C+
Publisher: Activision (2015)
Reviewed: 2018/2/27
Rating: Mature 17+ (blood and gore, intense violence, mature humor, sexual content, strong language)

screenshotIt may be hard to believe, but this video game is as outrageous as the movie. Deadpool is action-packed, irreverently funny, and loaded with surprises. It's also lewd, profane, and spectacularly violent. You've been warned! The polished graphics convey the look of an interactive comic book. 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.
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Die Hard Trilogy (Playstation)
Lollipop Chainsaw (Xbox 360)
Castlevania (Nintendo 64)
Skeleton Warriors (Saturn)
Wolverine: Adamantium Rage (Genesis)

Dirt 4
Grade: D
Publisher: Codemasters (2017)
Reviewed: 2018/1/11
Rating: Teen

screenshotI tend to enjoy offroad racers for their exotic locations and challenging weather conditions. Dirt 4 however feels like one long grind. After installation I was told "you must log into your Playstation account" which is false. Don't you hate it when games try to coerce you into going online? 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.
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Powerboat Racing (Playstation)
Test Drive V-Rally (Dreamcast)
Pro Rally 2002 (GameCube)
POD Speedzone (Dreamcast)
Gran Turismo 2 (Playstation)

Distracted Driver
Grade: B+
Publisher: Forged Monix (2018)
Reviewed: 2018/4/1

screenshotIt's tempting to dismiss this game as a joke, but once you play Distracted Driver you'll admit this is pretty clever. In the old days of commuting you kept your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and listened to the radio. But today's drivers are forced to deal with a myriad of pressing matters. Phone calls. Texts. Emails. Facebook posts. Selfies. Hot beverages. You may even need to catch a electronic critter! 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.
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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Lock N Chase (Atari 2600)
Bump n Jump (Colecovision)
Night Driver (Atari 2600)
Road Rash (Sega CD)
China Syndrome (Atari 2600)

Everybody's Golf
Grade: C-
Publisher: Sony (2017)
Reviewed: 2018/6/7
Rating: Everyone

screenshotBack in the day my friends and I enjoyed Hot Shots Golf (PS1, 1998) and its many sequels. It was fast-paced, easy-to-play, and featured simple but lush anime graphics. Everybody's Golf was supposed to be its spiritual successor so I had high hopes. The feel-good intro video gets the game off on the right foot with its colorful visuals and toe-tapping theme song. Then the game forces you to perform the tedious steps involved with setting up a profile and creating a character. Why can't I skip this?? Adding insult to injury, I couldn't figure out how not to make my character look like a chubby 10-year old brat! The main game is divided into online and offline modes, which is a fair system. The opening 9-hole round is extremely forgiving thanks to extra-large holes and a little tornado over top which sucks in anything close. The controls are outstanding and the camera offers some breathtaking angles of your ball in flight. I felt like I was playing Hot Shots again and loving it. Still, for a game that holds your hand so much I'm surprised it fails to explain key concepts like power boosts and the ability to apply draw and fade. After playing the same course over and over again I was asking myself where the [expletive] are the other courses? Only by scouring the internet did I learn it was necessary to defeat three challengers just to unlock a second course! A second challenger was nowhere to be found and I don't know how much time I wasted running around the island talking to everybody to no avail. It drives me crazy when a developer nails the core gameplay yet can't put together a decent progression system. This isn't rocket science, people. Other irritations include endless prompts before each round, most of it pointless dialog. The user interface is cluttered with tiny icons and extraneous indicators. And after each round it takes forever to page through all the useless "rewards". I finally unlocked a second course and guess what - it looks just like the first one! Everybody's Golf is what happens when a game is well programmed but designed by committee. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
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1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Hot Shots Golf (Playstation)
Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee (PSP)
NES Open Tournament Golf (NES)
Carnival Games Mini Golf (Wii)
Palm Springs Open (Philips CD-i)

Friday the 13th: The Game
Grade: D-
Publisher: Gun Media (2017)
Reviewed: 2020/10/25
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, suggestive themes)

screenshotI didn't exactly get off on the right foot with Friday the 13th: The Game. I normally keep my PS4 offline, which is fine because Friday the 13th has an offline mode. The problem is, you need to go online to download the offline mode. And oh yeah - in order to play the offline mode you still need to log in! Has there ever been a more fully-connected "offline" mode? You play the role of Jason Voorheers, the masked serial killer with a penchant for butchering teenagers at lakeside campgrounds. You view the action from a behind-the-back perspective while methodically trudging through wooded, rain-soaked environments. Camp counselors flee in terror but sometimes fight back with weapons like firecrackers (which freak Jason out). These people are hard to catch, always ducking out of windows and sometimes repeatedly walking in and out of doors (the AI could be better). There's no run button but you do possess special powers like the ability to stalk unseen, teleport between locations, and even zip across the ground like a ghost - a ghost that gets caught up on every damn log and rock in his path! The concept holds great promise but it becomes tiresome to methodically search each bed, closet, and tent for kids. Find one hiding and you're treated to a gory fatality which is fun to watch the first time. The combat is clumsy. The camera makes it hard to tell what's going on and your wild swings are always clanking off a nearby railing or door frame. One thing Friday the 13th does have going for it is atmosphere. The eerie campgrounds have an ominous vibe, especially during a thunderstorm. The house interiors on the other hand look a bit too clean and cookie-cutter. Suspense builds as the two-minute warning kicks in and the dramatic orchestrated score reaches new heights. Judging from my skittish cats I can say with confidence that the audio is the strongest aspect of the game, especially when the ghostly voice of Jason's mother kicks in. "That's my boy! They deserved to die!" While fun to toy around with, it doesn't take long before Friday the 13th: The Game starts to feel like a chore. You may have better luck playing real people online, but please don't fall for this joke of an "offline" mode. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Friday the 13th (NES)
Friday the 13th (Commodore 64)
Fatal Frame III: The Tormented (Playstation 2)
Mansion of Hidden Souls (Sega CD)
Twisted Metal (Playstation)

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved
Grade: B
Publisher: Sierra (2016)
Reviewed: 2016/12/11
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI loved the original Geometry Wars but the idea of taking it to the third dimension was fraught with fear and trepidation. Too many great 2D franchises have been ruined by a forced polygon makeover. Fortunately, Dimensions does it right. At its core Geometry Wars is a turbocharged version of Asteroids (Atari 2600, 1982). Its simple gameplay is appealing as you blast vibrant, colorful shapes to a bass-bumping, pulse-pounding musical score. The club-like atmosphere makes you want to crank up the stereo and have an alcoholic drink. The dual-thumbstick controls let you unleash rapidfire shots in one direction while moving in another. The basic 2D gameplay remains the same but instead of a flat playing field each stage offers a new warped surface. There are curved planes, rounded cubes, globes, and even giant plls. Dimensions does for Geometry Wars what Tempest (Arcade, 1981) did for early arcade shooters. A few stages even have cordoned off areas reminiscent of Omega Race (Colecovision, 1982). Geometry Wars Dimensions dazzles with its fast action, vibrant colors, and satisfying fireworks. Each shape behaves in a particular way, and I like how those green boxes nervously dart away from you when you aim at them. It looks funny to see a bunch of them huddled in a corner. You can tell where enemies are about to materialize by a faint color in the background, but the visuals are so chaotic you'll regularly fall victim to unseen hits. The adventure mode offers a challenging progression of unique stages including boss encounters. Special abilities and drones add a layer of strategy but I think the level of complexity has reached its tipping point. In fact, the more complicated stages tend to be the least fun and the coop modes are just overwhelming. There are plenty of modes to choose from but frankly I prefer the old classic modes. I'm glad the game records offline high scores because I have no interest in the online leaderboards. It's just a shame my friends can't pass around the controller and enter initials for high scores. The good news is, that's about the only thing missing from Geometry Wars 3. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Geometry Wars Galaxies (Wii)
Tempest X3 (Playstation)
Tempest 4000 (Playstation 4)
Tempest 2000 (Jaguar)
Rebooteroids (Jaguar)

God of War
Grade: C+
Publisher: Sony (2018)
Reviewed: 2019/3/26
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language)

screenshotI hate when a series reverts to its original name instead of using a number or subtitle. I mean, this franchise has had a lot of sequels and the original God of War (PS2, 2005) really isn't that old! That said, the formula was wearing thin so a change was needed. Kratos is now older, sporting a beard and heavier frame. He's accompanied by his young son who tags along for all the puzzles, battles, and not-so-treacherous platform action. The kid is not nearly as annoying as you would expect. He adds a teamwork element, and more importantly keeps you headed in the right direction. God of War is probably the best looking game I've seen. The eye candy is pretty much off the charts with awe-inspiring scenery, realistic characters models, and imaginative creature designs. The craggy lines that make up Kratos' perpetual scowl look amazing. The environments are heavily constrained however so the exploration feels scripted. At times God of War wants to be a movie, subjecting the player to drawn-out dramatic scenes. But my biggest issue is the new close, over-the-shoulder view. It works fine for throwing your axe, and I like how additional damage is inflicted when you call the axe back. The melee action however is bewildering. Kratos effectively blocks half the screen which is a problem when you're facing quick enemies or scouring for health. If not for the kid's warnings you wouldn't know when you're about to be struck from behind. These issues are laid bare in an early fight sequence against a scrawny guy called "the stranger". This endless, exhausting battle is ludicrous even by God of War standards, with both men bashing each other's heads continuously. The game does get better, thankfully. The various kingdoms have a divine, otherworldly quality, but they all start to look the same after a while. You'll battled hard-to-hit creatures including witches, trolls, and flying dark elves. Most enemies require very specific techniques to harm, which is frustrating. Still, the brutal finishing moves are always satisfying. Most puzzles involve throwing the axe at targets, and the ones that are timed suck. The new skill tree and upgrade system are terribly overengineered. How many people were on the committee that designed these? Like its hero, the new God of War is rigid, stilted, and humorless. The high production values are undeniable but I miss the unbridled joy of the original trilogy. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 

If you like this game, try: God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)
God of War (Playstation 2)
God of War 3 (Playstation 3)
God of War: Ascension (Playstation 3)
God of War 2 (Playstation 2)

Grade: D-
Publisher: Bandai Namco (2015)
Reviewed: 2017/7/2
Rating: Teen

screenshotOh dear. This was one of those early PS4 releases most gamers didn't notice, and they were the lucky ones. I tried to review Godzilla over a year ago, and the fact I couldn't even bang out a review speaks volumes. It's a slow, plodding affair where you take the giant, lumbering lizard through branching stages of urban destruction. The controls are so clunky you need to hold R1 or L1 just to turn. Trudging through city streets is unsatisfying thanks to bad physics and a lazy damage system. When you swing your tail at a building it will pass clear through it as the building flashes white. Repeat three times and the boxy structure collapses. Not very satisfying. Many stages involve destroying power generators around the city while dealing with one or more rival creatures. These monsters span the history of the Godzilla franchise, reprising the caterpillar, porcupine, Mothra, and "Space Godzilla" among others. If the developers were going for the "man in rubber suit" look of the old films, they nailed it. The monsters look totally fake with no sense of scale or mass. The one-on-one battles are tedious back-and-forth affairs with hits that appear to have zero impact. It's like a PS2 game with high definition graphics. Since you move like a snail and can't block, combat is just a war of attrition. Swing your tail a few times, unleash your breath, rinse and repeat. As you advance through the campaign Godzilla is supposed to "grow" and become more powerful but I didn't really notice. Between missions the game spews tons of unnecessary text dialog from a reporter and some politician. You won't be able to skip that fast enough. Longtime Godzilla fans may enjoy facing old creatures resurrected from the archives, but please don't expect much in the way of excitement. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Godzilla (CD) (Turbografx-16)
Godzilla (NES)
Godzilla Destroy All Monsters (GameCube)
Spiderman The Movie (Game Boy Advance)
War of the Monsters (Playstation 2)

Guilty Gear Xrd Sign
Grade: C
Publisher: Aksys (2014)
Reviewed: 2015/3/7
Rating: Teen (blood, language, suggestive themes, use of tobacco, violence)

screenshotThis franchise has gained a cult following since the debut of Guilty Gear (PS1, 1998). Most modern one-on-one fighters use 3D models but Guilty Gear Xrd looks more like an anime cartoon! Its lushly illustrated 2D visuals are reminiscent of the old Street Fighter games. Likewise the glossy, full-color manual is a welcome throwback to the old school. Sol Badguy is the primary character and he still holds the title of "worst name ever." Axl Low is an Axel Rose clone and Potemkin is a lumbering behemoth. May is a cute girl dragging an anchor and I-No is a sexy guitar-witch with a striking resemblance to Katy Perry. On the darker side, Faust is a lanky freak with a bag over his head and Bedman is a comatose guy in a mechanical bed that fights for him. The basic controls are simple enough that most gamers can dive in without knowing all the subtle nuances. The battles are utter chaos but highly entertaining. Your senses will be assaulted by all the shape-changing and teleportation attacks. Faust can materialize a large door and slam it in your face. How do you defend something like that? The backgrounds convey post-apocalyptic landscapes, but the excessive detail makes them looked cluttered and unsightly. I don't even know what I'm looking at. I dislike how the life meters drain progressively slower. You think you have your opponent on the ropes, yet it takes forever to finish him off! I enjoyed fighting against my friends, but the profile system practically ruins the experience by requiring everyone to "sign in" (ugh). I was glad to see a bunch of offline modes but they proved disappointing. The mission and challenge modes are beyond tedious and the story mode is one endless cut-scene. The MOM mode lets you work through branching stages while earning medals and equipping various abilities. It would be great if it weren't so damned complicated! Only one high score is saved in arcade mode, and only when you beat it. Would a top-10 screen with initials have been too much to ask for?! Extensive stats are recorded for online play but few for offline. You can earn credits to unlock features but the substantial stuff (like a new character) is crazy expensive. Guilty Gear Xrd Sign has the sights and sounds to draw you in but lacks the hooks to keep you there. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Guilty Gear (Playstation)
Guilty Gear X2 Reload (Xbox)
Guilty Gear Advance (Game Boy Advance)
Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus (Wii)
Guilty Gear X (Playstation 2)

Guitar Hero Live
Grade: B-
Publisher: Activision (2015)
Reviewed: 2016/1/31
Rating: Teen (lyrics)

screenshotThe original Guitar Hero (PS2, 2005) rocked my world a decade ago, but after a bad case of sequelitis the franchise fizzled out along with its twin sister, Rock Band. Now the next generation Guitar Hero has emerged with some fresh ideas. Guitar Hero Live makes use of actual video of a crowd to convey the feeling of being on stage in front of a live audience. I haven't seen real footage used like this since the days of the Sega CD and 3DO! It's fun to watch the crowd react to your performance, cheering when you play well and throwing stuff when you falter. The camera also pans the stage, and the reactions of your pissed-off bandmates are priceless. The backdrops behind the audience (superimposed by computer no doubt) look magnificent, featuring amusement parks, suspension bridges, and city skylines. Another innovation is the guitar controller itself, which is great. Instead of goofy Fisher Price buttons you have three pairs of buttons that blend into the guitar neck. You hold these in like frets of a real guitar, allowing you to play chords as well as notes. Once you get past the learning curve the game is a lot of fun. Playing certain sequences of notes in a row earns you "Hero Power" which can whip the crowd into a frenzy. You initiate the power by pressing a new button located near your palm, but I found it so awkward I just turn the guitar vertical instead. There are two basic modes which are really poorly named: Live (offline) and TV (online). Offline you play short sets (three or four songs) at various venues. Once unlocked you can play the songs individually for score. Compared to previous Guitar Hero titles, the track list is weak. I don't even recognize most of these tunes! Highlights include Demons (Imagine Dragons), R U Mine (Arctic Monkeys), Won't Get Fooled Again (The Who), Paint It Black (Rolling Stones), and my personal favorite My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Fallout Boy). The fact that tracks by Katy Perry and Eminem were included is testament to the sorry state of rock and roll today. The online mode offers a continuous stream of random songs. Earning (or buying) points lets you play songs of your choice, and wouldn't you know it - the best songs are online! You'll find classics like More Than a Feeling (Boston), Limelight (Rush), Cult of Personality (Living Colour) and so many others. What a racket! Guitar Hero Live is a solid game, but the music should really be a selling point and not a bone of contention. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Guitar Hero 5 (Xbox 360)
Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks The 80s (Playstation 2)
Rock Band 2 (Xbox 360)
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Playstation 2)
Guitar Hero (Playstation 2)

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