Playstation 4 Reviews E-G

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

screenshotBack in the day my friends and I loved Hot Shots Golf (PS1, 1998) and its many sequels. It was fast-paced and easy-to-play with simple but lush anime graphics. Everybody's Golf appeared 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. Everybody loses! © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

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 

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 filled me with fear and trepidation. I've seen too many great 2D franchises 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 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.

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1 or 2 players 

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

screenshotIt bothers me when a series reverts to its original name instead of using a number or subtitle. I mean, the original God of War (PS2, 2005) really isn't that old! That said, its formula was certainly wearing thin so something had to give. 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 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.

1 player 

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!

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.

1 or 2 players 

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 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.

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1 or 2 players 

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 arrived 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.

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.

1 or 2 players 

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