It’s amazing what comes into your mind when you just stop and think, huh? For instance, just a few nights ago I was thinking about Akai Katana, the bullet hell shoot ‘em up I’d been playing on the Xbox 360. I first dabbled with it back in September, after thrilling sessions with Mars Matrix caused me to reevaluate the intimidating subgenre of shoot ‘em ups. That first session was a euphoric experience, full of lights, sounds, and unconscious reflexes, and I wasn’t even doing very well. It was a lot like losing my virginity! And like that pivotal event, once it was over, I knew I wanted to experience it again.Continue reading Akai Katana [Xbox 360] – Review
As I’ve explained before, I’m a sucker for achievements and trophies, at least on the home consoles, where most of my game time is spent. It was disappointing then, to learn that Army of Two had achievements tied a piece of DLC that was no longer available. Now, I wasn’t going to be able to obtain all of the achievements for Army of Two anyway, since many were tied to the game’s long defunct online multiplayer mode, but it was still disheartening to learn I’d miss out on some associated with the game’s single player/cooperative campaign.Continue reading Army of Two: Veteran Map Pack [Xbox 360] – Review
When Jeff and I started Kirby’s Epic Yarn a few months ago, we were just looking for something to play cooperatively. Little did we know then, that would set us on a path of playing the game’s spiritual successors: Yoshi’s Woolly World and Yoshi’s Crafted World. Since we enjoyed that first game so thoroughly, it just made sense to hop into the follow-ups. They offered us hours of inventive platforming and charming visuals, in addition to a sense of relief of knowing what we’d play next. Like figuring out what’s for dinner, deciding what to play next can be tough, especially when the deliberations include multiple individuals. With the completion of Yoshi’s Crafted World, the most recent of Good-Feel’s oeuvre, we were once again hemming and hawing about what to play next. We’d been on a kick of playing games with full-on cooperative campaigns and decided that was the only criteria a candidate needed to fulfill. Scanning the shelves of games before us, we vetoed proposals and backlogged others, agreeing that “yeah, this one is good, but maybe later,” before striking on one that was tailor-made for our situation: Army of Two.Continue reading Army of Two [Xbox 360] – Review
A couple of months after starting F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon in an effort to play something spooky around Halloween, my experience with the series is now complete. Although I’d always wanted to play that game, I didn’t think finally doing so would take me down the rabbit hole of playing every entry. But here we are. F.E.A.R. 3 brought the series to a close with the return of the Point Man, his evil brother Paxton Fettel, and their strained relationship with Alma Wade. The shifting trend of the series, to a more action-orientated horror affair reached its culmination with new gameplay mechanics, which made this the most enjoyable entry.
With F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, I thought Monolith Productions developed a sequel that was more focused on action than horror. It was a fine game, and enjoyable for many reasons, but I still found it somewhat disappointing compared to the original. Unsurprisingly, the expansion F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn continued down this path. Released on September 3, 2009, roughly seven months after the base game, Reborn had a novel premise but was too brief to serve as anything other than a narrative introduction to F.E.A.R. 3.
Instead of controlling the Point Man, or another member of F.E.A.R., I was actually put in the shoes of Foxtrot 813, a Replica soldier. This offered a unique perspective since the Replica soldiers were one of a few groups of “bad guys” I had faced off against. With a runtime of about an hour though, there wasn’t much time to explore this role reversal. On a routine mission, Foxtrot 813 was telepathically coerced by Paxton Fettel to turn on his squad. Fettel, of course, was one of Alma’s offspring and an antagonist from the first game. He didn’t really feature in the second game, but following his commands, Foxtrot 813 eventually made it to his puppet master. Fettel then assumed Foxtrot’s body and was, ahem, reborn.
There were many differences between the first and second entries in the series, but one I failed to mention in my previous review is the way gunplay was handled. It was an FPS released in the wake of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and it showed, specifically when aiming down a gun’s sights. Pulling the right trigger to look down the sights with an enemy in the vicinity locked me onto that enemy, quickly and efficiently. This allowed for more precise gunplay, but offset with limited aiming speed adjustments and the plodding movement speed of my avatar, I couldn’t fine tune the controls to find a sweet spot that felt “right.” I made due, continuing to fiddle with the controls every now and then, but to no avail.
Between F.E.A.R. 2’s insane ending, Fettel’s appearance, and Alma’s attempts to prevent his return, I’m interested to see what happens in F.E.A.R. 3, the final installment in the series. Reborn, while offering a novel role reversal, brought little else of note to the series. The brief campaign had new environments and some exciting gunfights but was merely a proper explanation of Fettel’s return. At ten bucks, it’s hard to recommend to anyone other than zealous fans or achievement hunters.
As I engaged with allies, enemies, and explored the first few missions of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, I couldn’t get over how good it looked. The visual detail present in character models and environments floored me. It was a remarkable improvement over F.E.A.R. and its two expansions, which released upwards of three-and-a-half years prior. Monolith Productions developed the first game during a transition period between console generations, while this entry was put together firmly within one, and it showed. That further familiarity with development tools and the platforms of release resulted in visual improvements isn’t surprising, however. But, personally it was a reminder of how good games of the previous generation could look, and how much improvement had been made in just a few years. Continue reading F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin [Xbox 360]- Review
Exclusive to the Xbox 360, F.E.A.R. Files is a compilation of Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate, the two expansion packs for the horror-themed first-person shooter F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon. Unlike the original game, which was developed by Monolith Productions, these expansions were handled by the now defunct TimeGate Studios, based out of Sugarland, Texas. Extraction Point debuted on PCs in October 2006, a year after the base game. It picked up immediately after the end of F.E.A.R., directly continuing the story of the Point Man, that game’s protagonist. Perseus Mandate followed in November 2007, releasing simultaneously on PCs and the Xbox 360. The exploits of a separate F.E.A.R. team, acting concurrently with the Point Man’s, were detailed in this expansion. As was the case with the base game, it was ported to the Xbox 360 by Day 1 Studios and published by Sierra Entertainment.
As I mentioned in my review of Rain, one of the reasons I decided to play that game was my thinking it may tie into the Halloween season. My preconceived notions were that it dealt with ghosts, but that wasn’t the case. It did turn out to be a little spooky, but the other game that made my shortlist was a lot spooky. F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon was that game. Continue reading F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon [Xbox 360] – 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.
With Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest done and dusted, I thought I’d turn my attention to another game that’s been on my backlog for years: Singularity. Developed by Raven Software and published by Activision on June 29, 2010, it’s an alternate history first-person shooter centered on the Cold War and time manipulation. Accordingly, it has a few unique, and fun, time-based gameplay mechanics. The gunplay is solid but clearly intended for a mouse and keyboard in favor of a controller. Speaking of favors, I did myself none by playing on the hardest difficulty. Nonetheless, it lived up to my expectations and was a net-positive experience.