Tales of Berseria
Publisher: Bandai Namco (2015)
Rating: teen (blood, mild language, mild suggestive themes, partial nudity, use of alcohol, violence)
Review contributed by DaHeckIzDat of the RPG Crew and edited by the VGC.
After the disappointment that was Tales of Zestiria
(Bandai Namco, 2015), Bandai knew they needed to pull out all the stops to win back their fans' trust—and they did!
Tales of Berseria (ToB) stars Velvet, a young woman who looks like she put her Hot Topic outfit through a shredder. She lives with her little brother Laphicet and her brother-in-law Artorius. When a mysterious sickness starts turning people into demons, Artorius sacrifices Laphicet to stem the demonic plague. Velvet's resulting anger turns her into a demon herself who vows to get revenge. She's joined by a goofy samurai, a theatrical witch, and a pirate cursed with bad luck. The voice actors are all great and seem to be having a good time. After suffering through Zestiria's passionless cast these colorful characters are a breath of fresh air! ToB is a rip-roaring emotional roller coaster that runs 40-50 hours and I loved every minute of it! The story isn't the only thing that's improved however. The combat is more action focused, with Velvet stringing together combos like Bayonetta-lite!
You can even design your own combos to determine which move each consecutive button press will unleash. It's not button mashing; it's personalized
button mashing! And in an almost Dark Souls-like move, the extent of your combo is determined by a stamina meter. By stunning enemies you can extend your stamina meter, allowing combos to run even longer. Experimentation will help you determine attacks enemies are vulnerable to, but be advised they'll do the same to you. Mechanically speaking ToB is the best Tales Of game I've ever played, but it's still a Tales Of game with the same Tales Of problems. The areas between cities and dungeons look better than previous games, but they're still just overly long hallways designed to pad out the game's run time. And as great as the story is, there are times when it goes overboard, subjecting you to cutscenes running upwards of fifteen minutes! I'm not sure what to make of all the subtitle typos, but they are everywhere and some are just plain weird ("I'm sure you can squeeze some privates!"). Still, there's plenty to love In Berseria, especially for gamers who like to lose themselves in a good story. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Tales of Zestiria
Publisher: Bandai Namco (2015)
Rating: Teen (Alcohol Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco, Violence)
Review contributed by DaHeckIzDat of the RPG Crew and edited by the VGC.
If there's one thing you could always count on from the "Tales of" series of Japanese RPGs, it's a great story. So what happens when you take that away? Tales of Zestiria, sadly. The hero is Sorey, a young man raised by the angelic seraphim who leaves his peaceful mountaintop home to face a demonic plague in the world below. With his pure heart and spiritual abilities Sorey becomes a legendary figure prophesied to bring the world into an age of light. While previous Tales games featured complex storylines with ample twists and turns, Zestiria settles for the most cliched, predictable "chosen one" narrative imaginable. Sorey comes off as the world's biggest goody-two-shoes and the supporting cast is equally bland. Cutscenes drag because no one has anything interesting to say, and even the voice actors sound disinterested. I made an effort to enjoy this, but it's just… so… boring!
Little else has changed from previous games, with real-time combat that uses O for physical attacks and X for magic. You can map various thumbstick and button combinations but enemies tend to be pushovers so button mashing will suffice. The camera remains behind you during battle, making it hard to judge the distance between you and enemies. The back of the box boasts of an open world adventure, but that's a bit of a misnomer. The over-world has indeed been opened up considerably but there's nothing to do but run between cities. I consider myself a fan of the Tales series but it's hard to ignore the shortcomings of Zestiria, especially without a strong storyline to hold the experience together. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Bandai Namco (2017)
Tekken 7 received glowing reviews over the summer, leaving me to wonder what all the fuss was about. Besides its high definition graphics, has this game changed at all
since the original Tekken
(PS1, 1995)? It's still a one-on-one 3D slugfest with a button assigned to each limb. The selection of fighters includes old favorites like Law, Paul, Kazuya, and Jack. I always preferred King, despite the fact that his cat head is too small for his body. Nina now comes decked out in a tattered wedding dress, Kazumi can summon a ghostly tiger, and Heihachi plays the obligatory villain. New entries include a hulking robot named Gigas who can catch an opponent in mid-air and throw him around like a rag doll! I was also surprised to see Akuma of Street Fighter fame. The remaining fighters seem to exist to meet some kind of diversity quota. The character models are sharp but robotic compared to the Street Fighter series. The realistic stages include some really dull locations like an endless sandbar, a volcano, and a mountain top. I did enjoy the helipad stage which overlooks a city skyline at night, and the stage featuring a platform surrounded by robotic arms is also impressive. The fights are action-packed thanks to crisp controls, imaginative attacks, and flashy effects. One new wrinkle is the "rage art" ability, but since there are no instructions figuring out how that works is an exercise left to the reader. The modes and player statistics are divided into online and offline categories. I like the concept but the offline selection didn't excite me. The story mode is so long-winded I could not stand
it! The arcade mode uses employs some kind of "kyu progression" system I didn't understand. What ever happened to keeping score? Oh sure you win gold coins to unlock bunny ears and sunglasses but who the hell cares?!
Tekken 7 is technically sound but it fails to offer the player compelling reasons to play. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (2018)
The original Tempest was a 1981 vector-graphic arcade hit that used a unique dial controller. The idea was to move a shooting claw around the perimeters of large geometric objects, blasting aliens crawling in from the distance. You could rapidly fire shots while strafing the lanes, and when you felt overwhelmed just unleash a "super-zapper" to obliterate everything on the screen. Its sequel Tempest 2000
(Jaguar, 1994) served as the flagship title of the Atari Jaguar console. It took the classic gameplay to new heights with psychedelic backdrops, power-ups, more stages, and catchy techno music. Tempest 4000 is surprisingly similar - even reusing the same soundtrack! Maybe that's not a bad thing. The rumbling intro really gets your blood pumping and the shooting mayhem is pure arcade fun. Using the thumbstick to navigate the perimeter feels inexact but is probably better than digital control. Holding down X engages rapid-fire but your shots feel intermittent until you upgrade your firepower. Obtain the "AI droid" and you'll get a robot who shoots by your side, doubling the destruction. Tempest 4000 does add a few new twists. Enemies are now seen approaching from the distance even before they reach firing range. There are more shapes to shoot, and they tend to burst into crazy pyrotechnics. When you die the stage doesn't reset, but instead drops you back into the current level with enemies now teeming along the edge. It's a little unfair, especially if you don't have the "jump" power-up. Between stages you travel through a space tunnel while trying to remain centered for bonus points, but it's nothing special. Tempest 4000 offers three modes of play, but you'll have to figure out the difference between them on your own because there's no [expletive] manual. The "classic mode" has so much flashing colors and distorted visuals it's sensory overload. Random messages like "PLEASURE" and "YES YES YES" make you feel like you're indulging in some sort of perverted fantasy. The game records high scores locally, and I love having the current high displayed at the top of the screen. For a longtime fan like myself Tempest 4000 is slightly underwhelming, but if you haven't experienced Tempest before you're in for quite a trip. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Tennis World Tour
Publisher: Bigben Interactive (2018)
When I saw Roger Federer gracing the cover of World Tour Tennis I figured it was a safe bet. If you can't trust Roger Federer, who can you trust?
Well, I'll never make that mistake again. Tennis World Tour begins with a time-consuming tutorial walking you through the basics like serving and aiming your shots. But what's the deal with these graphics? I was hoping the vaguely cartoonish players were just part of the tutorial, but no, the actual game looks this bad! Players in a PS4 game licensed by the pros should look photorealistic
, not look like characters from a mobile phone game. The gameplay tries to mimic Virtua Tennis
(Dreamcast, 2000) by letting you hold down the swing button to "charge" your shot. You can also sprint via R1. I tried to remain cautiously optimistic heading into my first exhibition match. Taking the defaults, the game set up Wawrinka vs. Wawrinka - in the same outfit no less!
Every volly felt stilted and I couldn't get into any kind of rhythm. And despite playing in a large arena with fans there was no atmosphere at all. Then I tried the career mode and the wheels came off completely. When your opponent faults your player doesn't even react, as if the controller had disconnected. Sometimes my player would lunge in the wrong direction, and other times he'd give up on a shot and not even bother to swing! Whenever I approached the net my player seemed to have no idea what was going on and refused to swing. And when your computer opponents allow perfectly returnable shots to pass, it doesn't make for a very satisfying victory. The commentator does his best John McEnroe impersonation but his commentary is weak, repeating the same lines ("Now's definitely not the time for a double fault") and making bizarre statements ("What power! Talk about ball abuse!
") And why is the umpire yelling "out!" for winning shots that are in? Lacking the fun of an arcade title and the realism of a simulation, Tennis World Tour falls squarely into no-man's land. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Wales Interactive (2016)
Rating: Teen (violence, blood and gore, language)
My interest in full-motion video (FMV) games was reinvigorated by Late Shift
(Wales Interactive, 2017), a stylish, interactive heist film. The Bunker is a little different. Instead of being prompted for quick decisions you move a cursor around the screen to examine items and move between areas. The box cover suggests a slasher flick but The Bunker is more of a psychological thriller. You play a man named John who has spent his entire life in the seclusion of an underground government facility after a nuclear attack on the UK. The game begins by establishing his daily routine, and it's almost unbearable as you methodically point-and-click to repeatedly take vitamins, eat beans, and check the computer. When the facility springs a radiation leak John is forced to take action. The deserted facility has a haunting quality with its colored lights and claustrophobic spaces. The sense of isolation is unsettling and the music is heart-pounding. As John urgently attempts to make the necessary repairs you'll see flashbacks of his childhood which explain what happened to the other personnel who worked down there. As a movie the Bunker is fairly compelling. A brooding tension pervades a story that will keep you guessing until the end. As a game The Bunker is less successful. I felt as if I was being strung along while moving my marker around the screen looking for things to click on. On rare occasions a quick-time event demands a quick response, but these don't seem to impact the story much. During the exciting climax the load screens and gaming elements tend to get in the way
. Clocking in at over two hours, the game is long and exhausting. It was interesting to play through once but I will not be returning to The Bunker anytime soon. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: HB Studios (2014)
It may lack the big-budget production values of Rory McIlroy PGA Tour
(Xbox One, 2015), but The Golf Club is a lot less aggravating. Instead of making you sit through a lengthy install/update process, the game just starts right up! What is this, the 80's?! There's no forced tutorials - just a well-designed menu with all the essential options. I was out on the links in no time, enjoying tantalizing views of rolling hills, sparkling lakes, lush foliage, and majestic mountain peaks. The game doesn't tell you how to play, but that's okay because Golf Club is intuitive. Swinging with the right stick feels natural enough and unlike other analog swing implementations, there's no meter. You'll need to experiment to figure out how to adjust your power, and during approach shots it's really easy
to overshoot the green. You need to do a lot of math in this game and applying backspin is kind of a mystery. The camera angles that follow the ball are exciting and offer breath-taking views of your surroundings. The action moves along at a steady pace so you can play a whole round in about a half hour. The player and courses are fictional, but a course editor lets you generate and edit random courses, so in theory you have an infinite selection. I loved its streamlined design but there are times when The Golf Club feels like amateur hour. The one-man commentator sounds less like a sportscaster and more like a drinking buddy. His remarks are so annoying and shallow that I shut him off. Another irritation is having to wait for the camera to swing around before I can line up my next shot. I enjoy the Friday Night Lights-style soundtrack but some of the natural sounds could use some work. Is that static emanating from my back speakers supposed to be a brook?
PGA fans will probably opt for Rory McIlroy, but if you don't take your golf too seriously The Golf Club should suit you just fine. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
The Golf Club 2019
Publisher: 2K Sports (2018)
The first edition of The Golf Club
(PS4, 2014) didn't try very hard but was easy to play and showed potential. If Golf Club 2019 is any indication that potential has been completely squandered. The first thing I noticed was how practically all the modes are online-only, so offline gamers can effectively kiss their career mode aspirations goodbye. The only thing left is to play a local exhibition match against a friend. In terms of production values The Golf Club 2019 spared every
expense. There are no real golfers or courses. So what's the [expletive] point of having a PGA license? I can appreciate the natural beauty of the lush, wooded courses, but the generic golfers look like holdovers from a PS3 title. The controls employ the "analog stick" swing which has to be the most braindead mechanism ever devised. I can hit the ball 100% straight every time, but power is another story. There's no way to gauge how far the ball going to go! Want to fine-tune your swing? Good luck with that. The icons are counter-intuitive and one is half-way off the right edge of the screen!
There's no guarantee you'll get a decent view of your shot, and in one case my entire shot was obstructed by a single bush. And then there's the audio quality - or lack of it!
The lone announcer "Jon" lends sparse commentary like "this is hole four", "good shoot", and "nice!" Couldn't they hire somebody who could at least pretend
to be vaguely familiar with the sport? I found it hard to stomach an entire round on my own, so I tried two players with my buddy Eric. Not only did it take forever to set up a two-player game, but the action was downright embarrassing. If you grew up with golf games that were actually fun, trying to play garbage like The Golf Club 19 can be quite the sobering experience. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2016)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, language, violence)
It's not easy to stand out in the competitive field of first-person shooters (FPS), yet Titanfall 2 manages to feel fresh and original. Your character has unprecedented agility by FPS standards, and your ability to battle from inside of a robotic mech adds a whole new dimension. I passed up on the original Titanfall because it was online only, but Titanfall 2 offers a monumental single-player campaign. I can't get over how good this game looks and feels. The animation is fluid, the controls tight, and the graphic quality outstanding. The first-person shooting feels instantly comfortable as you target enemy soldiers, flying drones, and dinosaur-like wildlife. I love how helmets pop off when you shoot enemies in the head. Weapon loadouts have multiple capabilities, and while they seem complicated at first, it's fun to experiment with them. I got a kick out of the gravity grenades which pull enemies together so you can shoot them all in one place. Pressing the touchpad button brings up your current objective marker, but I found the thin line indicator hard to follow. What shocked me about this game was at the amount of platform jumping. Titanfall 2 not only makes heavy use of wall-running and double-jumps, but expects you to string them together in combinations that will leave you breathless. Of course the true hallmark of the Titanfall franchise are its "titan" mechs. I like how your titan will grab you and stick you into his chest. The mech battles offer a brute force style of combat including lock-on missiles and a shield that absorbs projectiles and repels them back at adversaries. You'll spend most of the game running on foot but the titans play a major role in boss encounters. The missions are ingeniously designed. In one stage you trek through a topsy-turvy factory stage that reminded me of a scene from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. In another you toggle time at the press of the button, switching from past to present to locate new paths and remove enemies. It's mind-blowing. As I played through the game my opinion progressed from "not bad" to "this is great" and finally "I think I love this." I was close to giving it a solid A until the game crashed not once, but multiple times. I didn't try the multiplayer but have friends who have vouched for it. The bugs are unfortunate because Titanfall 2 is a head-popping, robot-wrecking good time. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet (Japan)
Publisher: Tecmo Koei (2016)
I've always gravitated toward "bullet hell" titles (call me a glutton for punishment) and this is a unique take on the genre. Instead of moving up a vertical scrolling field while blowing away swarming ships, Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet is a one-on-one fighter with rapid-fire shooting and melee combat. The basic concept is similar to Space War
(Atari 2600, 1977) as you exchange fire with an opponent on a screen-sized battlefield. The menu and setup screens offer a lot fun music and colorful anime graphics. But as you would expect of any game with the word "ballet" in the title, it sucks. An endless tutorial explains at the gauges, indicators, and attack modes in methodical detail. After paging through 500 text bubbles you'll just say to hell with it and quit out. There are so many subtle elements, like reconstituting your charge attack by "grazing" (brushing up close to enemy projectiles). Initiating a spell positions your opponent at the bottom of the screen and lets you pommel him with waves of bullets. Despite its anime style Bullet Ballet isn't much to look at. There are two fighters are tiny and surrounded by a pair of concentric circles. The background graphics are so uninteresting you won't even notice them. The bright-colored projectiles offer plenty of fireworks, but the action is mediocre at best and the constant shooting noise is obnoxious. Most bullet hell shooters reward the player with eye candy and a sense of progression. Bullet Ballet provides neither and doesn't even save your offline scores! It's a real shame because I got the special edition with a soundtrack and art book. I think my friend Scott put it best: "I don't know what's going on here, but it's not fun." © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Publisher: Sony (2016)
Rating: Teen (blood, language, use of alcohol and tobacco, violence)
With its lifelike graphics, dramatic acting, and cinematic storytelling Uncharted 4: A Thief's End toes the line between video game and interactive movie. I might have a problem with the lengthy cut-scenes if they weren't so damn good!
The clever, well-written dialog rivals that of a major motion picture. The gameplay is a combination of exploration, puzzle-solving, off-road driving, and wild shootouts. The tombs and puzzles have a heavy Indiana Jones influence, but there's dash of The Goonies as well. The game sets the stage with "flashback stages" recounting our hero's youth at an orphanage. The predicaments he and his brother find themselves in foreshadow the main story while fleshing out their characters. Uncharted 4 is first and foremost a pirate adventure, so expect gorgeous tropical islands, mysterious caves, and mayhem on the high seas. The game takes every opportunity to show off its spectacular scenery by letting you enjoy some amazing panoramic views. Certain games contain eye candy, but Uncharted 4 is
eye candy. You can practically feel the humidity of the dense jungle, smell the musty caverns, and squeeze the mud between your toes. For the first few stages the game feels like it's on autopilot as you effortlessly scale crumbling ruins like a contestant on American Ninja. Your ability to swing on ropes makes this feel like a spiritual descendant of Pitfall
(Atari 2600, 1982). Speaking of old school, in one part of the game you actually find yourself playing the original Crash Bandicoot
(Playstation, 1997) - a game within a game!
The driving stages are a blast, taking the term "off road" to the extreme. The puzzles are hard enough to make you think, but not so onerous you have to go digging for an FAQ. The real challenge of the game lies in its exciting gunfights. The battlegrounds allow for all sorts of strategy and barriers you take cover behind actually deteriorate as you take fire! The more I played Uncharted 4 the more I loved it. I'm glad the game has frequent autosaves because there are really no good stopping points. The only part of the game I could have done without was the prolonged ending, which brought back memories of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. The game seems remarkably polished (no camera issues at all) so I was disappointed when it locked up on me. Unlike what other reviewers may claim, the gameplay is unchanged from previous Uncharted titles and the story is exactly what you would expect. Uncharted 4 is just bigger and better, and considering its pedigree that's saying a lot. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Fangamer (2017)
Rating: Everyone 10+
Review contributed by eneuman96 of the RPG Crew and edited by the VGC.
Summarizing a boldly unconventional RPG like this without revealing any spoilers is quite the challenge. Undertale puts you in the role of a child trying to survive an underground world so you can return to the surface. You'll encounter a wide variety of quirky enemies and allies, often in the form of half-goat and half-fish characters. Discovering a new creature is always a joy due to their creative designs and descriptions. Much of Undertale's appeal emanates from the fact that it subverts or eschews so many RPG conventions. For one thing, killing enemies is unnecessary. The player is allowed to spare them, usually after conversing with them first. Despite occasional moments of trial and error, Undertale is anything but dull whether you choose to be a pacifist or a psychopathic killer. The game goes out of its way to make you feel guilty if you choose the latter. Although battles are turn-based, enemy attacks are dealt with innovative shoot-em-up-style action segments where you dodge obstacles with a heart. The simplistic yet charming graphics (reminiscent of cult classic SNES title Earthbound) belie the insane amount of detail present in every other aspect of the game. With a memorable cast of characters, hilarious yet moving writing, and some of the catchiest video game music of the decade, Undertale will remain with you long after you've completed it. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (2015)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language)
Not since Night Trap
(Sega CD, 1992) has there been a game I'd describe as an interactive horror movie, but Until Dawn certainly qualifies. The premise revolves around a group of teenagers that return to a ski lodge one year after a tragedy took place. Until Dawn borrows liberally from every horror movie and
video game including Evil Dead, The Shining, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Alan Wake, Saw, Scream, Heavy Rain, and I Know What you Did Last Summer. The results are spectacular
. The game looks like a million bucks, featuring remarkably lifelike characters with a full range of facial expressions. My friends actually recognized the real actors
who were digitized for the game! The atmosphere is moody as all hell
thanks to excellent cinematography and clever camerawork. Disturbing sound effects and a brooding musical score keep you on the edge of your seat. You control each of the characters at some point, typically wandering around to investigate flashing objects. When the action heats up you must respond to rapid button prompts, and it's pretty intense. Periodically you're required to make a decision which might involve deciding a course of action (safe route or shortcut) or determining how to relate to other characters. I love the idea of a branching storyline but it's not always clear your actions are having much impact, especially when your choices are limited to "shut up" or "dismissive". Until Dawn definitely strings you along but it's refreshing not having to conserve ammo, scrounge for health, or restart from the same spot over and over. I like how the game takes full advantage of the PS4 controller. You'll slide your finger across the touch screen to light a match or browse a smart phone. You'll need to keep the controller perfectly still during certain scenes to avoid detection. Much like Alan Wake
(Xbox 360, 2010) the game is broken into chapters, each beginning with a recap of the story so far. Yes, there are plenty of horror cliches (all
of them I think) in the form of cheap scares, raunchy jokes, and people investigating noises when they should be running in the other direction. But I knew the game was something special when I found myself face to face with a psychologist questioning me about my own actions in the game!
Whoa. Bonus videos include a Blair Witch-style "documentary". If you're the kind of person who allows themselves to be afraid and enjoys the feeling, Until Dawn will tap into your deepest fears. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Wild Guns: Reloaded
Publisher: Natsume (2016)
This unlikely PS4 release probably caught a lot of gamers off guard. Reloaded's graphics and gameplay are nearly identical to the original Wild Guns
(SNES, 1994). I guess that makes it appealing for retro gamers who can't afford a copy of the original Super Nintendo cart. It's quite a shock to fire up your PS4 and see that 16-bit title screen with pixelated graphics and old-school music. Upon selecting one of four characters you find yourself in a wild west scenario fighting outlaws and retro-futuristic robots. Like the original version you can't move and aim at the same time. You'd think Natsume would have leveraged the modern dual-stick controller configuration to overcome that limitation. One button unleashes continuous fire (with shell cases flying), a second lets you jump/dodge, and a third unleashes devastating bombs (limited in quantity). The gameplay is pure arcade mayhem as you blast everything in sight. I love the explosions! When thugs get too close Annie can slug them with a baseball bat, which is awesome. Rolling and jumping lets you avoid incoming orb-like bullets, and I got into the habit of performing these maneuvers all the time
. Unfortunately this game made me realize just how awful
the PS4 directional pad is compared to the SNES. The stages look great and you get a wide field of view, allowing you to even see the rooftops in the street stage. High scores are saved offline for each difficulty, although you still have to wade through those annoying "can't upload" and "want to connect?" prompts. Reloaded incorporates two new characters but mainly just for novelty value. There's a dog with a drone that fires on his behalf, and a fat chick named Doris who tosses grenades. Neither is particularly fun to play. Four players can participate at once, but frankly even with two players the chaos is a bit much. I enjoyed Wild Guns Reloaded but frankly it made me want to go back and play it on my SNES. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: team
Our high score: 39470
1 to 4 players
Wipeout: Omega Collection
Publisher: Sony (2017)
Rating: Everyone 10+
Back in the day the original Wipeout
(PS1, 1995) blew me away with its sleek vehicles, futuristic tracks, and pulse-pounding electronic beats. The game had style to burn but it was too unforgiving. Rubbing against the side of the track would bring you to a screeching halt, allowing CPU competitors to whiz right past. Throughout the years the series has incrementally improved by offering wider tracks, a smoother framerate, and more forgiving gameplay. It's a shame Sony relegated the franchise to their handheld consoles, severely limiting the potential of the franchise. Until now, that is. Wipeout: Omega Collection includes three Wipeout titles: Wipeout 2048, Wipeout HD, and Wipeout HD Fury. Wipeout 2048 is the latest incarnation and definitely the main attraction. The animation is silky smooth as you gracefully careen from one elevated track to the next. Spectacular futuristic cities offer transparent roads, winding tunnels, and neon-lit skyscrapers. Wipeout HD and Fury are similar but with less detail and more narrow tracks. All variations offer an addictive blend of racing and combat. The shoulder buttons are used to sharpen your turns, but go easy on them to avoid fishtailing. Sometimes it pays to take the road less traveled, so seek out alternate paths. I love hearing that sexy British babe announce "new lap record!"
The tracks look attractive but they start repeating too early in the campaign. The weapons could be more satisfying. You'll nail another ship with a missile and it seems to have minimal effect. There's a nice sense of progression as you gradually unlock new ships and tracks. The two-player split-screen mode is fun too, allowing you both to compete against a grid of CPU opponents. Wipeout is known for its electronic soundtrack but some of the beats here are really sparse. Still, this game is addictive, especially when you get into a zone. Wipeout: Omega Collection is the arcade-style racer the PS4 library desperately needed. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Publisher: Bethesda (2014)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, strong sexual content, use of drugs)
Wolfenstein: The New Order kicks off with an exhilarating airplane stage that requires you to switch planes in mid-air
. Once on the ground you're attacked by mechs and terrifying robotic dogs. The narrative spans from the 1940's to the 1960's in some kind of alternate universe where the Nazis have won World War II. As if Nazis aren't bad enough, they've augmented their army with cyborgs and terminator-style robots. The controls feel crisp as you run for cover, target enemies, and perform sneaky takedowns. For the first hour or so New Order feels like an old-fashioned, balls-to-the-wall shooter. Eventually it settles into more of a stealth adventure, which is true to the series' roots dating back to the original Castle Wolfenstein
(Atari XE, 1983). Wolfenstein 3D
(Jaguar, 1994) also makes a cameo appearance in the form of a goofy "nightmare" sequence. For the most part New Order is pretty serious with heavy violence and even some sexual content. You play a soldier in a band of underground rebels. Semi-interactive cut-scenes will play with your mind and keep you on the edge of your seat. The first-person shooting is exactly what you'd expect, with a few new wrinkles like sprint-slides and health overcharging. Using laser cutters to break chains is cool, but using them to cut openings in chicken wire is tedious, especially since you have to keep waiting for the stupid thing to recharge. Cleaning out one concrete bunker after the next gets a little repetitive, and I really hate those annoying drones. It is kind of cool how scenery takes damage, so you can't hide out in one spot for too long. The robotic dogs are scary, but I find it odd how you can defeat them with... a knife?
Hitting the square button to pick up items can be tiresome, especially in storage rooms littered with junk. The graphics go for realism but are sometimes less than convincing. I enjoy killing Nazis as much as the next guy, but I could only take this game is short bursts. Some first-person shooters tend to make me queasy, and this is one of them. It's no surprise considering how you constantly need to adjust the camera to navigate claustrophobic passages. Wolfenstein: The New Order is a competent game but after a while I got the sinking feeling I was playing every first-person shooter I've ever played in my entire life. Note: The German version of this game substitutes the Nazis for the more generic (and less offensive) "Regime". © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap
Publisher: DotEmu (2017)
The fact that a 1989 platformer merits a PS4 release speaks to the greatness of the original. Fresh off reviewing Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap
(Sega Master System, 1989) and the Turbografx version called Dragon's Curse
(T16, 1990), I might just be overqualified
to review this modern makeover! The game actually recreates the original gameplay with remarkable precision, preserving the same stage layouts, items, and enemy placements. In fact, you can toggle between modern and classic modes on the fly! I was skeptical about the graphical makeover at first; cartoon characters lack the charm of their pixelated brethren. But the scenery... oh... my... goodness
. The lush backdrops add a whole new dimension to this game. The layered castles look magnificent and the coastal area is enhanced with a beach and pirate ship. Combined with relaxing drum music these scenic views call to mind Monkey Island Special Edition Collection
(Xbox 360, 2011). Some areas are nearly unrecognizable. Underground dungeons convey a damp, shadowy atmosphere enhanced by cool echo effects. In the upper reaches of the tower you can hear the wind whipping around and the muted sound of activities below. Amazing audio complements the fresh visuals, from soothing waves to crisp slamming doors. The soundtrack sounds like something from a Disney movie
for crying out loud. The controls feel tight and I love being able to manipulate items without bringing up an item screen. The only thing lost on me was how to save. Apparently there is an autosave feature although it doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere. Wonder Boy: A Dragon's Trap is an unlikely treat for Playstation 4, offering the simple fun of a classic game with all the bells and whistles of a modern title. How can you not
love this? © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Team17 (2017)
Do you have fond memories of classic 3D platformers like Spyro the Dragon
(PS1, 1998), Banjo Kazooie
(N64, 1998), and Jak and Daxter
(PS2, 2001)? Well, the good times are back
with this charming Kickstarter project, currently available on most platforms. Yooka Laylee is a refreshingly light hearted platformer starting a cartoonish lizard and bat who control as a single unit. Each vibrant stage is an inviting playground of platforms, mini-games, and puzzles. There's tons of stuff to collect and all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies to explore. There are even wild minecart stages a la Donkey Kong Country
(SNES, 1994). The characters you encounter are cleverly designed and their self-aware dialog is amusing. The Despicable Me-inspired villain has a hilarious sidekick who resembles a duck/gumball machine hybrid. Together they've constructed a machine which is sucking up every book in the world
. Their evil lair serves as the main hub, which is confusing since it also functions as its own stage. Collecting golden pages lets you gradually unlock new areas and quills let you purchases abilities. The smooth animation and orchestrated music score is impressive but the gameplay is uneven. The camera requires constant supervision and you might even get a little queasy after extended play. With no map to fall back on it's not always clear what to do next. Be sure to talk to everybody! The mini-games try to mimic old arcade games yet fail to register on the fun-o-meter. But my biggest complaint is how the game lets you toil in areas you don't have the ability to conquer yet. That would never happen in a Nintendo title. The good news is, you can just move on to the next thing, because there's always plenty to see and do. The game saves whenever you collect a major item but I wish I could save at any time. Yooka Laylee is good-natured and addictive. It's flaws may be plain as day but they are far outweighed by the fun you'll have. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Zoink (2015)
Rating: Teen (Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes, Language, Crude Humor, Use of Drugs)
I've been a fan of side-scrolling brawlers dating back to Double Dragon
(NES, 1988) but modern games can't seem to get the formula right. My initial impression of Zombie Vikings was much like Dragon's Crown
(PS3, 2013) and Pirates Plundarrr
(Wii, 2010). The game offers artistic visuals, offbeat humor, and frantic button-mashing fighting. I'm always rooting for games like this, especially when they support four-player local action. Zombie Vikings opens with a cutscene replete with wacky humor and professional voice acting. But while the actors seem to be having a great time these long-winded cutscenes will eventually have you reaching for the skip button. The hack-and-slash action is pretty standard with an emphasis on combinations that allow you to spin through a group of characters like a whirling dervish. You'll slice and dice trolls, witches, worms, cats, and all sorts of gnarled creatures. But despite the stylish visuals and jazzy music Zombie Vikings left me cold. The muddled stages all look the same and any interesting animations are lost amidst the pulled-back camera and frenetic carnage. There's some technique (like throwing objects) but a mindless hack-n-slash approach works just as well. And who cares if you can deal 200 points of damage at a time when you still need to hit an enemy 20 times? The final nail in the coffin came when my friend Scott and I became hopelessly stuck and unable to advance. I had heard rumors that the game was buggy, but this qualifies as broken!
I suspect I could download some kind of enormous patch, but in this case I don't think it's worth my time. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Zombieland: Double-Tap Roadtrip
Publisher: Gamemill Entertainment (2019)
Rating: Mature 17+ (blood, strong language, violence)
This zombie shooter is based on the Zombieland sequel. What - you didn't even know
there was a sequel? Join the club, pal! I only picked up because I've seen it compared to Super Smash TV
(SNES, 1991). Sure enough, Double-Tap Roadtrip is a chaotic overhead shooter supporting up to four players at a time - offline
no less! That's the good news. Its four characters are based on actors from the movie. Prior to each stage you're forced to page through their endless dialog bubbles which are consistently unfunny and often profane. The guy doing Jesse Eisenberg must be a good voice actor because he sounds just as annoying
as the real Jesse Eisenburg! It's hard to tell if Double Tap's graphics are any good because the camera is pulled so back so far the characters look tiny!
The controls let you strafe and shoot in all directions but they are touchy as hell. You'll be converged upon by many types of zombies including clowns, ninjas, and the obligatory fatties who can absorb a ton of bullets. Weapons hidden in the trunks of cars include shotguns, uzis, double handguns, and even a katana. It's mildly fun to splatter ghouls all over the concrete but it feels like a battle of attrition as they just keep coming. Blowing stuff up is satisfying but the melee combat is awful. Chopping up ghouls with an axe would be a blast if not for the lack of sound effects and decent collision detection. Missions involve unlocking gates, guarding doors, and blowing up spot-a-pots to remove invisible barriers. There's even an escort mission involving a granny with a walker. Should you perish you'll need to restart the enitre mission, which means sitting through that God-forsaken dialog again. I struggled to get past the amusement park stage but after that the difficulty dropped like a rock. While traveling across the western US the game has a lot of really rude things to say about rural states like Utah and Nebraska. Four-player coop may be a good selling point, but I'm afraid Zombieland Double-Tap Roadtrip is unlikeable, unnecessary, and much like the movie sequel - unwanted! © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
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