Monday, April 27, 2015

Far Cry 3 Review

Before Far Cry 3 was announced back in 2011, I knew little to nothing about the series.  Yet, I became interested in this game after seeing footage of it at Ubisoft's E3 Press Conference in 2011.  Having finally played the game, I can safely say that this is a great game.
The story follows Jason Brody, the son of wealthy parents who, one day, him and his friends travel to an island in Southeast Asia known as Rook Island.  However, after skydiving out of a plane and landing there, they discover that the island is run by pirates who capture Jason and his friends, with the intent of selling them into slavery.  After being interrogated by Vaas, the leader's right hand man, Jason and his older brother Grant escape their cell only for Grant to get killed by Vaas while they try to escape.  Then, Jason finds himself running for his life and barely escaping the prison alive.  After being saved by a man named Dennis, Jason realizes he has to find his friends and escape the island, less he wants to be stuck here, as well as put a stop to the pirates' operations on the island.
Several themes encompass Far Cry 3's story, with one of them being the idea of learning to take responsibility for your actions, and becoming a strong, independent person.  Jason Brody firsts starts off confused and wondering what he's going to do, but before long he realizes it's time for him to become strong and confident if he wants to survive and save his friends.  In addition, most of the people you meet on this island are slightly mental in their own ways, from Citra, the leader of the natives of Rook Island who thinks Jason is destined to save the island, to Vaas.  While he isn't the main bad guy in the grand scheme of things, he is still a dangerous and intimidating threat, and everytime he was onscreen I always felt uneasy, given how mentally unstable he is.  The one problem I do have with the story, however, is that certain characters suffer from a lack of appropriate screentime, especially Vaas and Hoyt, the leader of the pirates.
The game is an open world FPS, with some RPG elements, and it's also the strongest point of the game.  There are a number of different things to do on Rook Island, including hunting animals, liberating outposts scattered all over the island, and climbing radio towers to turn them on, making that particular section of the land viewable on your map.  Each of these activities is rewarding in their own way.  There's a crafting system in the game that allows you to create different things including more weapon holsters, a larger wallet, or more space to carry ammo.  This is where hunting comes into play, by killing animals and skinning them, you can create these items that are necessary if you want to survive on the island, or rather islands.  By the time I reached the second island in the game, I had all four weapon holsters, each one held an assault rifle, a silenced sniper rifle, an SMG, and a grenade launcher.
The outposts scattered around the island give you freedom of choice in how you confront the enemies that occupy an outpost.  You can take the silent route, sneaking in, disabling the alarms so the pirates can't call in reinforcements, and then stealthily eliminating the enemies.  Alternatively, you can just charge in, guns a blazing, and mow them all down.  Either way, once the outpost is liberated, new side missions become available and it decreases the amount of control the pirates have over that particular part of the island where the outpost was located.  Finally, when you climb radio towers and turn them on, certain weapons will become available for free in stores, meaning you don't have to worry about saving up money in order to purchase them.
Whenever you kill enemies, complete main or side missions, or any of the side activities in the game, you earn XP and earning enough will allow you to level up and earn a skill point to unlock a skill from one of three skill trees.  These skills include more health, taking less damage from bullets or falling, or being able to perform different advanced takedowns like chaining together multiple takedowns, or stabbing a guy and then using his knife to kill a nearby enemy by throwing it at him.  Besides that, cash can be earned from completing missions or looting containers and then selling the items at a nearby store.  There is a wide selection of firearms to choose from, most of which have attachments you can add to them like different kinds of scopes, extended magazines, or silencers.
Simply put, everything you do in Far Cry 3 is fun and engaging, in fact, at certain points in the story, before the start of a story mission, the game will encourage you to explore the island before starting the next story mission.  Speaking of which, the story missions are filled with tons of memorable moments.  From burning drug crops with a flamethrower to exploring abandoned tombs to find pieces of a compass that will lead you to a mystical dagger, the story missions are as enjoyable and entertaining as all of the other things you'll be doing on Rook Island.
The only problem I have with the gameplay is that by the time I reached the second island I didn't have much of an incentive to explore it when compared to when I was on the first island.  This probably has to do with the fact that I had a lot of the important stuff needed to survive crafted and therefore, I felt there wasn't much of a purpose to explore the second island.
Visually, the game looks great; everything from the islands to the character models looked really good.  The fire effects, in particular, are some of the most impressive I have seen in a game to date, enemies and animals alike will try to evade any flames that happen to spread out.  Even with some pop-in present, the overall visuals looked great.  The voice acting is really good, and solid writing supports it.  The highlight, however, is Michael Mando's performance as Vaas, who does a great job in his performance.
Far Cry 3 is an excellent game from start to end; with a solid story and gameplay that is entertaining and engaging, this game is definitely worth your time.
Final Score: 9/10

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Earth Defense Force 2025 Review

In 2007, gamers got a surprise when Earth Defense Force 2017, the third installment in the Earth Defense Force series, was released in the U.S.  While the game may have lacked visual polish, the fun gameplay and the game's charm made it a cult hit in the U.S.  Since then, a U.S. developed follow-up, Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, was released, introducing new gameplay concepts to the series as well as a more polished look.  With Earth Defense Force 2025, developer Sandlot has taken the best elements of the previous Earth Defense Force games to create the best installment in the series yet.
Set after the events of Earth Defense Force 2017, the Ravager invasion was stopped and since then, both the world and the Earth Defense Force have rebuilt and grown stronger.  However, in 2025, the Ravagers return once again to try and take over the world, and the Earth Defense Force must stop them once again.  Much like in previous Earth Defense Force games, the story serves as an excuse for the large amount of gunfire and explosions that are about to be exchanged between the Earth Defense Force and the Ravagers.
While gameplay is, by and large, the same style of gameplay seen in previous games in the series, things are different due to the introduction of four different character classes and a very long campaign.  The four classes in Earth Defense Force 2025 are the Ranger, the Wing Diver, the Air Raider, and the Fencer.  The Ranger is your standard EDF soldier previously seen in Earth Defense Force 2017 and Insect Armageddon, where that class was called the Trooper.  While he is the most familiar of the four classes he's also a good choice for veteran players and newcomers to the series.  The Wing Diver is the most swift and agile of the four classes, as her thrusters allow her to fly across the environment and rain death from above onto the enemies.  Because of this, she was my favorite of the four classes, the Air Raider and Fencer, however, are a different story. 
 The Air Raider's main function is calling in air strikes and summoning vehicles onto the battlefield, as well as providing support to other players.  As a result, it's best recommended that you use this character if you play the game with a friend because while you can play as him in single player, things can be a bit more challenging if you play solo.  Finally, there's the Fencer, who is the most powerful of the four classes as he is able to dual wield different combinations of powerful weaponry.  The problem is that he is slow as molasses, while there are thrusters attached to him that allow him to jump high and dash quickly across the level, getting them to perform the right action can be tricky as sometimes you jump up high when you meant to perform his speed dash.
In addition to four different character classes, weapons can also be reloaded, unlike in Earth Defense Force 2017, where the weapons' clips had to emptied entirely before they could be reloaded.  The game is also very long, there are 85 missions to complete in this installment, which took me about 14-15 hours to complete on my first playthrough as the Ranger, and when you consider that there are four characters to play as and five different difficulty options to choose from, you'll have a lot to keep yourself busy with. However, due to the large number of missions, repetition will sink in, which was a problem in previous Earth Defense Force games.  Yet, it never becomes a huge issue because new enemy types are introduced over the course of the game, including giant bees, dragons, and new gunship and carrier types.
The game's visuals are good, about on par with Insect Armageddon in terms of overall quality.  Compared to previous Earth Defense Force games, however, the scale of the environments and the amount of enemies onscreen has been greatly increased.  The increased size of the levels was most noticeable in levels that were set in the metropolitan areas of the city, as there are numerous massive skyscrapers located around the city.  Yet the game does suffer from some framerate drops and on occasion the framerate will take a massive nosedive into the single digits and the next thing you know you're fighting enemies in super slow motion while the framerate slowly picks back up. This also occurred in Earth Defense Force 2017, not only that, but certain glitches from that game reappeared in Earth Defense Force 2025.  Sometimes an insect or gunship may get stuck on the side of a building, but more annoying is that the giant spiders can still shoot their webs through the side of a building and hit you on the other side.
The voice acting is as campy and awesome like the dialogue in previous Earth Defense Force games; the best part is when your allies occasionally break into song to sing their battle chant.  Not only that, but they're also really concerned about getting something to eat after the current mission or possibly getting married once the invasion is over.  The music is also really good; it sounds like it belongs in a summer blockbuster.
Earth Defense Force 2025 is another solid installment in the series, but it's also the best installment yet due to the multiple character classes and the larger sense of ambition the game has.  If you haven't played an Earth Defense Force game yet, this is an excellent choice.
Final Score: 8.5/10

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Guitar Hero Returns: Guitar Hero Live Announced

Activision announced that the Guitar Hero series is making a comeback with Guitar Hero Live, a new installment with some changes being made to the presentation as well as the gameplay.  According to the information from the article I read, which I'll post a link to, there are no in game crowds or bands, instead, this game uses footage of real crowds that will react depending on how well you perform.

Additionally, the guitar being used in this installment is different in design when compared to previous Guitar Hero guitars.  Its design is more similar to that of a real guitar, with there being separate buttons to represent different chords, though the strum bar looks the same.

From Guitar Hero 3 and onwards, former developer Neversoft handled the series, GH Live is being developed by FreeStyle Games, the studio responsible for the awesome DJ Hero.  With a new installment in the Rock Band series being announced a few months ago, I'm glad that the music rhythm genre is seeing a comeback.  I just hope the publishers of these games don't try to oversaturate the genre again, similar to what happened back in 2009 with there being one too many Guitar Heros and Rock Bands being released within one year.  Still, it's good to see new installments in these established franchises get announced.

Link to article:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Red Faction Guerrilla Review

As the third installment in an established series, Red Faction Guerrilla tries something different by switching genres, moving away from the FPS genre and into the open world genre.  Game developer Volition is no stranger to this genre due to also being the creators of the excellent Saints Row games.  So how does this trip to Mars fare?
The story follows miner Alec Mason, who has come to Mars to meet up with his brother, Sam, to mine the planet.  Once Alec arrives on the red planet, however, he sees that living life on the planet isn't easy due to the militaristic control of the Earth Defense Force (no, not that Earth Defense Force).  Sam takes you to where an EDF facility is located, and after demolishing the building in the opening prologue, the two of you are captured, and Sam is executed right before your eyes.  Before Alec meets the same fate Sam does, however, a local resistance known as the Red Faction shows up and soon Alec finds himself participating in a struggle to liberate the planet of its militaristic grip.
In spite on the summarization I just gave, the story in Red Faction Guerrilla isn't all that interesting; it primarily feels like an excuse for why you're part of this group that's trying to stick it to the man.  A couple of plot twists during the story try to keep things interesting, but you don't feel all that surprised when they happened.
Regardless, the gameplay more than makes up for the lackluster story; as stated in the intro, the game does a genre switch, playing more like a traditional open world game rather than an FPS.  There are multiple sectors located around Mars, and the main goal of each one is to free control of each sector from the Earth Defense Force by completing missions, side activities, and destroying EDF property.  There are two meters that dictate the current control of the Earth Defense Force and the morale of the citizens.  As you lower the morale of the Earth Defense Force the morale of the people will become higher.  Lowering the EDF's morale is also how you progress through the story, as some story missions won't be unlocked until you lower the EDF's morale to a certain point.  While it is an interesting concept, it can also lead to some frustration, but more on that later.
The side activities, which are vital if you want to critically lower the morale of the Earth Defense Force, will have you doing things such as rescuing hostages, participating in assaults to destroy an EDF occupied building, or taking control of a vehicle to distract EDF troops while some members of the Red Faction steal something.  These activities are fun to do but they can also create a problem when you're trying to unlock a mission.  Sometimes the side activities don't lower the morale down enough and at times, I was trying to find something that I could do in order to lower the Earth Defense Force's morale. Besides the side activities in each sector there are also buildings marked on your map which can be destroyed, these are always fun to do, considering it's less about thinking ahead and just charging on through, plowing into an EDF building with your vehicle.
Demolition plays a significant part in the gameplay thanks to some impressive environmental and building destruction.  It's not a matter of destroying a building but rather demolishing it as by blasting chunks and knocking out structures in a building will eventually cause it to collapse, which always brought a smile to my face when it happened.
Of course, if you want to destroy buildings and blow stuff up, you need weapons, and there are a good variety of them.  The weapons range include an assault rifle, explosive charges, and a plasma shotgun, but then there are the more creative weapons such as a rocket launcher that can be upgraded to fire three rockets simultaneously and lock onto targets, as well as a gun that fires rounds that distenagrate whatever they touch, be it a vehicle, building, or EDF soldier.
One other problem I had with the gameplay besides the at times frustrating mission progression system was the enemy AI.  At times the EDF soldiers can be rather aggressive, especially during some of the main missions, which often resulted in multiple deaths  Yet another reason is because the armor upgrades in this game don't feel like they give you enough protection from all the gunfire, resulting in a number of frantic moments where you'll be running around, dodging gunfire in an attempt to find a safe spot to hide and let your health regenerate.
Graphically the game looks solid, and as I said before the building destruction is some the best I have seen in a game to date, yet the game itself does look good. Voice acting, however, is rather average; admittedly it is interesting hearing Troy Baker in one of his earlier roles as the voice of the main protagonist Alec Mason, yet in this game he sounds rather bored in his performance, which also applies to the rest of the voice cast.
If you can deal with a forgettable story and some annoying gameplay problems, Red Faction Guerrilla is still an enjoyable, albeit highly familiar experience.
Final Score: 7/10

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon Review


In 2008, two new installments in the Destroy All Humans series were released, this game and the Wii exclusive Big Willy Unleashed.  The latter was a decent installment that was enjoyable, but suffered from some noticeable problems such as a short length, bad graphics, and underutilization of the new vehicle, the Big Willy robot.  So how does this fourth installment fare?

Set some time after the events of Big Willy Unleashed, Pox and Crypto have left the fast food industry and moved into the gambling industry, opening up a casino in the faux Las Vegas town of Los Paradiso that serves as a means to steal peoples' cash as well as their brain stems.  Everything is going fine for the duo until the local mafia decides to start a war with Crypto, but then things take an out of this world turn.  A once thought extinct race of cyborgs known as the Nexos show up, which results in our duo leaving Paradiso to try and figure out why the Nexos are back, and who sent them to sabotage the DNA harvesting scheme.  The story is better this time thanks to the whole conspiracy angle the story goes for, which does keep your interest as our alien duo try to figure out things.  Most of the characters in the story are enjoyable, such as our protagonists Pox and Crypto, but there are some that aren't as interesting, and just show up only to never be seen again in the game.

The gameplay is largely the same in this installment, but some new improvements and additions have been made to the experience.  The controls have been streamlined so that now you can use Crypto's mental abilities such as Psychokinesis and his guns at the same time, or maybe a combination of his jetpack, PK, and weapons together.  This allows for a lot more freedom with how you use his abilities and weapons than it did in previous installments. 

Besides the streamlined controls, Crypto also gets some new weapons and mental abilities to use as well.  A few of the new weapons include one which launches a giant plant monster called the Venus Human Trap, which will grab any nearby vehicles or humans and eat them, another one called the Black Hole Gun, which is self explanatory, and the Superballer, which can launch bouncing balls that will stick to a nearby human or vehicle and bounce it all over the place.  Certain weapons from previous entries do return such as the Zap-o-Matic, Distenagrator Ray, Ion Detonator, and Anal Probe, the latter two have undergone some slight modifications as now the Ion Detonator can be used as a sticky bomb while the Anal Probe now has lock on capabilities.  In terms of new mental abilities there are two of them this time, Temporal Fist is an ability that stops time, allowing you to use PK to rearrange any objects in the vicinity and then unpause time to cause a chain reaction of events.  PK Magnet allows Crypto to gather any nearby humans or objects into a psychokinetic ball, and then throw them.  All of these new weapons and abilities are fun to use but they can also lead to problems in the gameplay, but I'll get to that later.

As always there's a good amount of mission variety and fortunately the game does have a longer length than it's predecessor, as it took me about 8-9 hours to beat the game, and an additional hour to finish up side missions and fully upgrade my weapons and abilities.  Speaking of which, the upgrade system has been heavily improved in this installment.  The only thing you need to worry here is making sure you have the right amount of DNA in order to upgrade your weapons.

While the gameplay is enjoyable there are some problems.  For starters, the enemy AI is terrible, the cops and soldiers in this game have aim that's about as good as a Stormtrooper's aim, meaning they often miss their shots more than they actually hit you.  The boss fights in this game are also too easy, while they do have interesting designs; the main strategy to defeating most of them is to pump a whole lot of Distenagrator shots into them.  As I said earlier, while the weapons and abilities, both old and new, are fun to use, by the time you fully upgrade them the game becomes too easy, providing no real challenge whatsoever.

These complaints with the gameplay lead me to my main problem with the game, the overall lack of polish the game has.  Graphically the game looks average, while the environments have a good sense of scale to them and some aspects such as the building destruction, weapon effects, and some character models look decent; the game suffers from a huge amount of pop-in, some occasional framerate drops, and muddy textures.  There's also a very strange thing that happens whenever Crypto engages in conversation with another person, for some reason all of the cars and people just disappear, save for objects, as if the people of the town wanted to make sure that Crypto and the person had their time to talk.

The game also has a few glitches; sometimes you may get stuck in the ground but then there are more strangers ones such as the fact that if you PK an object that isn't a car and throw it at a human or enemy, it just passes through them.  Also, on occasion but not frequently, the game will freeze.

Voice acting in this game is solid, Grant Albrecht and Richard Horvitz return to voice Crypto and Pox and their performances are easily the high point of the voice acting in this game; though as stated before the rest of the cast does a good job as well.  The music is also solid as well, featuring a good integration of licensed music during some of the missions.

If you can overlook some of the gameplay and technical problems the game has, it's still an enjoyable game.  Fans of the series should give this game a look, and for everyone else it's still a decent game to play.

Final Score: 7/10
Link to Gamefaqs Review:

Monday, April 6, 2015

Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed Review

Ever since I played the first game in the Destroy All Humans series, I've been a fan of the games; I like them for the gameplay and chaos that you can cause in the environment and their sense of humor.  For this particular review, I will be taking a look at the third game in the series, Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed.
Since the events of the second game wisecracking alien Crypto and the hologram Orthopox, or Pox, have moved out of the Oval Office and into the fast food industry. Where they are the owners of a chain of fast food restaurants known as Big Willy's.  What the customers of these restaurants don't know about the restaurant, besides the fact that it's actually run by two aliens, is that the meat, which is used for hot dogs, actually consists of the humans that Crypto has eliminated in previous games, which have been grinded up and converted into hot dog meat.  However the restaurant's success does face some competition, a man by the name of Colonel Kluckin knows the secret behind the meat and plans to expose it to the public, as well as the owners' real identities.  So Crypto and Pox must stop Kluckin or else face the wrath of being closed down and their cover blown.
It becomes immediately apparent to anyone that the threat this time isn't as large scale or threatening when compared to the previous games' villains and their plans.  This is more or less a case of fast food rivalry between two different chains, and as a result the conflict isn't as interesting; yet it is still a decent story, primarily due to the characters, especially the always enjoyable antiheroes Crypto and Pox, and the writing.  While some of the jokes in the game do fall flat, a number of jokes were funny and made me laugh, especially the ones that break the fourth wall.
The controls are different for this installment.  Since this is a game for the Wii, it makes use of the motion controls of the system, while also sporting a different controller style; fortunately the game's controls are good.  Aiming and killing enemies works much like the pointer controls seen in Wii FPS's such as The Conduit or Metroid Prime 3, and the motion controls are handled well.  When in the saucer you tilt the Wii Remote left and right to turn the saucer and up and down to change altitude.  Whenever you use Psychokinesis to lift something, you flick the Wii Remote to throw whatever is in your grasp.
The core gameplay is largely unchanged from previous installments, but it's still enjoyable.  There are four environments to explore and complete missions in, and there is a decent variety of missions.  One thing I liked about the side missions in this game is that some have their own little story arc.  For example, there's a series of side missions in which Crypto has to eliminate a series of targets, yet when he reaches the last one, someone else beats him to it, this ends up in Crypto trying to figure out who the mysterious assassin is and why he's sabotaging the plan.  Most of the weapons you can access in this game are taken from the previous game, such as the Zap-o-Matic, Distenagrator ray, Ion Detonator, and Anal Probe.  There are also a few new weapons that you can use, including the zombie gun and a shrink ray you unlock after beating the game. 
Besides having access to a flying saucer, Crypto also gains access to the Big Willy mascot, a fifty foot tall robot that's armed with acidic vomit, laser eyes, and nuclear farts.  It's also indestructible, meaning tanks and rockets don't damage it, but it does run on a battery that can drain quickly whenever you use Big Willy's weapons.  Though picking up a nearby human and eating it can easily replenish the battery.  While fun to use the problem is he doesn't see much action during the main missions, as he's only used about 4-5 times total throughout the main missions and you'll wish that he had been used more often.
Besides that, the game is also quite short.  Beating the game only took me about five hours, and that was while doing both the main and side missions; for an open world game, and in general a normal game, such a short length is not a good thing.  I'm not also a big fan of the upgrade system in this installment, in previous games you to collect energy cells or DNA that could be spent at the upgrade section of your saucer.  In this game, you need to collect not only just the required amount of DNA or energy cells, but also get a certain number of kills or complete some other action in order to earn an upgrade.  Because of this there were times that I just went on a grinding spree in order to acquire an upgrade.
Visually, the game does not look good at all.  The environments are bland and the character models are simple and jagged looking; it feels more like an early PS2 game than a Nintendo Wii release.  One of the most glaring examples of the poor graphics is when characters engage in conversation; they never move their mouths and simply just nod and gesture while the camera pulls back behind their head to try and give off the idea that they're talking.
The voice acting is decent but in this installment their usual voice actors, Grant Albrecht and Richard Horvitz, do not voice Crypto and Pox.  Instead two different voice actors who try to give their best impressions of the characters voice them, but it makes you wish that they had just gotten the original voice actors instead. While the music is good the problem is that it's borrowed from another game in the series, Path of the Furon.
When compared to the previous games in the series and its follow up, Path of the Furon, Big Willy Unleashed falls short.  The story is enjoyable as is the gameplay, but problems do stick out such as the bad graphics, underutilization of the new vehicle, and short length.  I say that newcomers should play the first two games in the series first, but this installment is still worth a look.
Final Score: 6/10    

A Restart and An Explanation

Hello there, if you have found this blog, then you have found GamerGuy's Reviews!  I originally went under the alias GameMaster, however, the blog that I originally had has been closed.  Why? Let me explain.

Last year, in 2014, I officially started writing reviews, things were looking good, the problem, I wasn't following my schedule I had set up.  Various reviews I had planned for certain months ended up getting scrapped or delayed into some other months.  As such, the blog for which I had started, had a very rough time, and ultimately, in November, I stopped checking it.  I realized, in that time, that if I wanted fully pull off my plans for keeping an active reviewing schedule, in addition to an active blog, I needed to keep a promise that I would publish my reviews on the months for which they were to be published, and to prevent any more scrapping/delaying of reviews.  Keep in mind, if you start something, you should always carry on through with your plans, never hesitate or restart something, unless the situation turns dire, which was the case for me.

However, I can 100% promise readers that this blog will reflect my intentions for what I want to do with this blog, and I have a lot of things planned.  For starters, the reviews I have written so far this year, are available for viewing at Gamefaqs, so when I do publish a review to the blog, I'll also provide a link to the one on Gamefaqs as well.  The primary focus of this blog is primarily game reviews, but I want to do other things besides that, to keep things interesting.  Other types of posts I have plan to do on this blog include movie reviews, expanded discussions regarding my thoughts on certain games that I review, and more which you will see this year and later on down the line.

With that said, welcome to the restart and resurgence of GameMaster Reviews, now called GamerGuy Reviews.  Expect reviews which reflect my honest opinion on games from the current and past generations of consoles, plus special "theme" months in which I review games from certain franchises or reflect a certain time of the year.  In addition to many other things, so sit back, and enjoy the show!