Thursday 20 May 2010

Gaming Reviews

Square Enix
Available Now - £49.99 (PS3 and Xbox 360)
Review by Blake Harmer

Nier, the most recent action RPG from Square Enix is a flawed masterpiece, and by flawed, I mean hit several times with a hammer until very little of the original masterpiece has been seen.

The storyline hints at a great story ahead of you: Nier is on a mission to find a cure for his daughter Yonah, who has caught the fatal Black Scrawl virus, and when he comes along a magical tome known as the Grimoire Weiss (which talks and floats along side you), he must journey to find the sealed verses which will give the Grimoire the power to cure Yonah’s disease. To find this however, Nier must battle his way through an evil army of monsters known as shades.

However, where the game falls flat is in the execution of the actual game, the hack and slash combat is dated and the below par graphics make the experience feel rushed, especially with the shades looking like a mess of wavy lines and pixels. These monsters probably look like this to make them look malevolent ghost like figures, but it just seems like poor monster design, especially when the level of detail gone in the main characters is so much better in terms of back-story and look. The character animation, level design and even the interaction with the other characters seem very last generation, with the great voice acting being the only saving grace over the latter.

At the end of the day there is some great story telling and the great sound and voice acting deliver the story well, but a lot of gamers will find it hard to put up with so-so combat and lazy execution of the game’s great ideas that a lot of people will give up before seeing the games conclusion.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Poor with some lazy monster design. The spells that Nier casts are pretty and powerful looking but that’s about it.
Sound/Music: A great soundtrack and superb voice acting carry the games strong story line well.
Gameplay: An average action RPG which has some great ideas but executes them poorly.
Lasting Appeal: There is a lot to be seen here as with a lot of JRPGs, but you’ll have to put up with the games several flaws to see the conclusion to the interesting storyline, whether gamers will want to do that though is questionable.
Summary: Nier is a game rife with flaws, and with so many better RPG games out there, there is very little to recommend it aside from the games interesting storyline and character design. Which is a shame as there is a good solid adventure to be had here, but all the flaws make it an overall "meh" experience. 5/10

Meanwhile - Pick Any Path: 3,856 Story Possibilities
Stand Alone Choose-Your-Own-Adventure
Harry N. Abrams

Available Now - £9.99 (Hardback)
Review by Brad Harmer

In this original graphic-novel take on a 'choose-your-own-adventure,' a boy stumbles upon the lab of a mad scientist who asks him to choose between testing a mind-reading device, a time machine, and a doomsday machine. Using a system of tubes and tabs, readers can decide what to explore in this completely engrossing experiment in storytelling. Sometimes the page reads right to left, sometimes up and down, and sometimes jumps from beginning to end.

Meanwhile was a hard one to review. As a comic, it’s pretty good. It’s cute, it has some fuctional and well arranged art-work. Kids will probably love it. As a’s pretty flawed. I logged about six hours playing this thing, and I still can’t figure out how to get to the winning ending (if there even is one), and I’m pretty experienced with these things.

Unfortunately, it’s not just challenging. It’s downright frustratingly hard. You can wind up in infinite loops. You frequently feel as if you’re being funnelled towards certain death. And, it suffers from broken links. Some options just “crash” the game. Many sections are very, very repetitive. In short, this is pretty much an example of how not to write a game book.

Gamebooks need multiple ways to win, if they’re going to be taken seriously alongside both table-top RPGs, and “free roaming” video games. This is a step backwards for the genre. 3/10

The A-Team follows the exciting and daring exploits of Hannibal Smith and his colorful team of former Special Forces soldiers who were set up for a crime they did not commit. Going ‘rogue,’ they utilize their unique talents – and eccentricities – to try and clear their names and find the true culprit.

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