The game looks amazing! Standing on a high point and looking out across the landscape, I couldn't believe it was all there for me to explore. Unfortunately, the wow factor wears off when you realize just how empty this world is. Dark Souls was smaller and more linear, guiding you from one majestic set piece to the next. In Elden Ring you can ride for miles and not find any place worthwhile. Occasionally you'll come across a castle, small cave, or dungeon, but the bulk of your time consists of aimless wandering.
Battles play out in real-time with a stamina bar limiting your actions. There are dozens of different weapons and armor you can use to customize your character to your liking. Defeated enemies bestow you "grace" which you can spend to level up. Upon dying you lose this grace, but have one chance to run back to where you died and reclaim it.
Dark Souls is famous for its insidious difficulty but this is ridiculous! The combat is so unfair. If you dodge-roll, enemies will pirouette like freaking ballerinas to strike you anyway. Knock an enemy down and you have to patiently wait for them to stand back up before you can attack again. Of course, don't expect them to return the courtesy! If you end up on the ground, you rarely have a chance to get back up before being hammered into the dirt.
Bosses tend to be incomprehensible mashups of heads and arms, making it nearly impossible to read their movements. It doesn't help that the game uses grinding to artificially lengthen itself. Most common enemies only earn you 10-15 grace points each, and when you need 10,000 to level up, it is an absolute chore. But it's also a necessity, since being the right level can mean the difference between being killed in one hit or two.
I get the impression FromSoft is being crushed under the weight of its own legacy. They keep ratcheting up the difficulty but at the cost of balance and fairness. It doesn't matter how massive or how good-looking a game is if the player feels like he's being jerked around the entire time. © Copyright 2023 The Video Game Critic.
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. Everybody loses! © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
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.
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 adult beverage. The dual-thumbstick controls let you unleash rapidfire shots in one direction while moving in another.
The basic 2D gameplay remains the same in Geometry Wars 3, 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).
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 especially 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.
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 battle 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.
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!
Most 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.
While watching the dramatic cutscenes you can move a reticle around the screen and shoot highlighted bad guys. As you watch townsfolk go about their business there are conversations, bar fights, and robberies to spice things up. This game has a knack for lulling you into a false sense of security, catching you off-guard when some unlikely bystander pulls a gun.
It's fun to shoot the bad actors - I mean aliens - because of the way they throw their arms up and jump backwards while trying not to smile. If you look close enough you may notice some bouncing on a mattress just out of frame.
You'll toggle between four locations conveniently mapped to the four face buttons. An indicator on the lower right alert you if an area is experiencing activity so you can switch over. Most of the time there's only one event unfolding at a time, making it feel like the game is leading you around by the nose.
Compared to the grainy Sega CD original, this footage looks DVD-quality with colors that really pop. Unfortunately the improved clarity actually works against this game, stripping it of its mystique. Instead of looking like grainy war footage it looks like you're watching a freaking soap opera. The latex rubber aliens look ridiculous and the stormtroopers look like New York Yankee catchers parading around in their pinstripes and masks.
For a "Nuclear Edition" there are surprisingly few options. I would have at least expected an option to play with the original Sega CD screen layout, which I prefer. The game doesn't track high scores but inexplicably tracks the total number of the enemies killed over all games. You can unlock scenes, scripts, and bonus "behind the scenes" clips.
What really hurts this remake is the lack of difficulty. Not only do you get more time to aim, but the hit detection is beyond forgiving. It's easy to progress but not very satisfying. I also ran into a bug that forced me to restart. Ground Zero Texas Nuclear Edition managed to do the impossible, which was to improve my opinion of the original game! © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.
All five heroes are featured including Drax, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot, but the humans are not the actors from the film. Despite what appears to be a licensed game, you won't see anyone that resembles Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, or David Bautista. It's like purchasing a game based on The Matrix and discovering the main character looks like David Schwimmer instead of Keanu Reeves. Not to worry however, as I hear the real actors are unlockable. Joy.
The game itself was developed by Square Enix so of course it looks like a million bucks. It's mainly a third-person platform shooter along with a few first-person flying stages. This game reminds me of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (Electronic Arts, 2019), except instead of familiar Star Wars locales you find yourself in weird Candyland worlds with precarious metal walkways.
The design of the game is sort of clever. You only control Star-Lord directly but can activate the powers of your crew by holding the L1 button while pressing the thumbstick in one of four directions. For example Groot can "grow" a bridge, Rocket can hack control panels, Gamora can slice through obstacles, and Drax can carry huge objects. The system works great while exploring, but trying to orchestrate your crew during a big melee is like herding cats.
Boy oh boy does the combat suck in this game. You'll spend too much time fighting nondescript ball-shaped or square-shaped creatures that bounce all over and regenerate. It's pure hell. You can fire rapidly but it takes 100 shots to kill anything. The situation improves when you acquire the ability to freeze enemies, but the fighting action is never even remotely enjoyable. Usually you're just relieved when it's over.
I find it odd how if you fall into an abyss you are instantly reset to the ledge you fell from. However if you die in battle you're in for an arduous reload process. If this was an attempt to punish the player, it was successful.
The musical score feels underused. There are some great songs like "I Ran" but they sound muted and tend to get lost in the shuffle. I will give the writers credit. Throughout the entire game our heroes are talking non-stop and some of the lines are pretty funny. We're not talking laugh-out-loud material but at least the characters stay true to their personalities. This witty banter helps lift your spirits during what otherwise amounts to a real slog of a space adventure. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
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 look 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.
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.
The two basic modes 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.