Acting upon a sense of urgency for no particular reason, this year has seen me completing many of the games that have populated my backlog for ages. Singularity and Syndicate, a pair of narrative-orientated first-person shooters, each with unique gameplay hooks, are two such games. While it misses the mark on alliteration, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare otherwise fits the bill, scratching that itch for what I want in an FPS. Published by Activision on November 4, 2014, it was Sledgehammer Games’ second entry in the series, following their co-development of Modern Warfare 3 alongside Infinity Ward. Additionally, Raven Software (the studio behind Singularity, coincidentally enough) developed the multiplayer components while High Moon Studios handled the previous generation versions. Continue reading Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare [PlayStation 4] – Review
Having completed Jet Grind Radio for the first time, nearly twenty years after its original release and in spite of my awareness of its cult popularity, I’m nonetheless impressed by how fresh it remains. The team at Smilebit encapsulated a period of pop culture history so well: tonally, stylistically, and with such zest, that the game has eluded a potential fate of mere time capsule and is instead, timeless. It’s not without fault, however. In contrast to the vivacity of its aesthetics, the act of playing was oftentimes tormenting. An inadequate method of camera control compounded grievances I had with skaters’ rigid movement, momentum, and their flippant adverseness to grinding. With adaptation, I was able to compensate for these shortcomings and enjoy the otherwise exciting combination of skating and graffiti tagging gameplay. Continue reading Jet Grind Radio [Dreamcast] – Review
Follow the video game industry closely enough and you’ll hear a common refrain. Something to the effect that it’s a miracle any video game gets made, regardless of quality. Ensuing explanations cite a myriad of ways that development could have, and may well have, gone off the rails. Bearing this in mind, it’s astounding that Axiom Verge is the product of a sole individual: Tom Happ of Las Vegas. Never mind the fact that it’s a nigh-perfect action-adventure experience, paying homage to Metroid and many other classic influences while introducing mechanics that differentiate itself. Originally released March 31, 2015 for the PlayStation 4, it has since been ported to numerous platforms, including the Switch, where I played it last week. Continue reading Axiom Verge [Switch] – Review
The year is 2069. Once common forms of government now occupy historical archives on the dataverse, having been supplanted by mega-corporations decades ago. These mega-corporations, or syndicates, are few and amongst them Eurocorp is dominant, thanks to their invention of the DART chip: a neural implant allowing access to the dataverse. Unique syndicate specific versions are embedded in roughly half the world’s population, creating a societal divide between the haves and the have nots, metaphorically illustrated by the lush skyscrapers users live, work, and shop and the destitute “downzone” areas on the surface. As they’ve vied for control of the populace and protection of their intellectual property, corporate espionage and outright warfare have become standard, necessitating the need for bio-engineered agents enhanced with the latest in chip technology.
Continue reading Syndicate [Xbox 360] – Review
Exactly one year ago, I struck while the iron was hot. Browsing GameStop with a friend, I spotted a pristine copy of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn that I couldn’t pass up. We’d see copies every so often but they’d be missing their manual or in poor shape otherwise not meriting the hefty asking price. Little did I know that this acquisition would solidify the schedule of our weekly get-togethers for the next year and that we’d eventually clock more than eighty hours in order to complete one of the hardest entries in the tactical RPG series. Continue reading Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn [Wii] – Review
While I have a soft spot for them, I just don’t have the time to devote to lengthy RPGs like I used to. So before I started Xenoblade Chronicles, I was fearful it’d take me months to complete. Instead, I was immediately hooked on Monolith Soft’s seminal Wii RPG and saw credits within a month, having found a couple hours for it each night. Originally published by Nintendo of Japan on June 10, 2010, it took the grassroots Operation Rainfall movement for it to see the light of day in the United States. Half a year after it was localized for the European market, and with British voice-acting still intact, it released here on April 6, 2012. Featuring an enthralling storyline, active combat reminiscent of MMORPGs, a robust collection of interlocking gameplay systems, and expansive areas chock full of enemies and distractions, it was a supremely enjoyable, highly addictive experience that has me seriously contemplating jumping into Xenoblade Chronicles X. Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles [Wii] – Review
When Nintendo of America published Fire Emblem for the Game Boy Advance on November 3, 2003, it marked the end of a decade-long drought. The seventh entry in the series, now canonically known as Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, was the first to be released in the west. Set on the fictional continent of Elibe during an era of swords, sorcery, and dragons it told a predictable legend of good vs. evil, rife with archetypal characters and intricate details. While the turn-based tactical gameplay was impressively executed and multifaceted, it could be frustratingly difficult. I found it borderline obstructionist but nonetheless, persisted. Although my playthrough was peppered with demoralizing losses, perhaps more impactful than the rewarding victories, I’d do it all over again. Continue reading Fire Emblem [Game Boy Advance] – Review