It’s time for another group of short game reviews – similar to what I already did in the past.
Most of them are ones which I’ve bought for a reduced price, with them being already aged at the time – and for those for which this isn’t true, you can get most of them pretty cheap already, as I had bought some of them quite a long time ago.
So here goes…
Type: Action RPG
Price paid: €3.75
You’re an orphaned martial arts student in a country similar to ancient China. Somehow, your master’s school gets attacked, your master kidnapped, and you’re departing on a journey through fantasy, but mainly martial arts.
This game is a role-playing game (where you later on assemble your party) with, of course, lots of combat, plus the occasional dose of puzzles. It’s by no means up to today’s standards regarding graphics – but does that really matter? What you get is a capturing story, a great fighting system (with the possibility to learn some magical fighting styles), and a lot of enjoyment for little money.
Am I happy? Yes, a lot. Great price-performance ratio!
Type: Car racing
Price paid: €9.99
Since GTR Evolution, contenders for good simulation-oriented car racing games were somewhat rare. As Grid 2 was rather action-oriented, this is a return to the more realistic genre.
It supports my dated racing wheel without problems. Graphics are nice, and tyre noises are definitely better than in most competitors. As with many of these games, the career system kinda gets in the way. Why do we need that? At least it doesn’t have a stupid side-story. And it doesn’t have a Nordschleife.
Am I happy? If it had a Nordschleife, I would be completely happy.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Price paid: unknown
I love open-world games. This one has it. And I hate cutscenes in those. This one has almost none. I love a classless system. Check. Lots of customizability. Check. And dragons. Check – although you need to wait for the third DLC to actually control one.
This is one of the greatest games ever. Fantasy. Magic. There’s great flexibility in the story – and the story is told in a way where you can rather freely make your moral choices and align accordingly. There’s a huge environment to explore. A beautiful one. With lots of different regions. And, best of all, a great modding scene, giving you some really complex new storylines as well.
Am I happy? Does this question even need to be asked?
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Burst 3
Type: Beat em up
Price paid: €23.99
This one is three-dimensional – in the sense that differently to most beat em ups, you can move freely on the ground (and to some extent, also in the air). That alone makes it cool.
The characters all have some kind of special moves that will completely baffle you. And the story seems strange, too. I found that I was only able to enjoy the game after watching the anime for a prolonged period of time (meaning: several hundred episodes). After that: great game!
Am I happy? Yes, but only after watching the anime.
Price paid: €2.93
You’re a Chinese Hongkong-based ex-cop working in freelance security jobs and are contracted to obtain some ancient sword. There’s multiple people after this (or, actually, three) ancient swords, one of them a mythical figure, one of them a businessman.
Apart from that, the game is set in the Eighties. Which is cool. What is more cool is that this is the only game of that style where all through the end I fought with my katana most of the time. And it’s humourous – the fortune cookies alone are worth the price of admission.
Eighties, katana fighting, fortune cookies – and mythology. Great combo.
Am I happy? Yes, katana rules! Price performance ratio in effect!
Type: Action RPG
Price paid: €59.99
I’ve enjoyed GTA since GTA II – some more, some less. So this in some way also a comparison to preceding games in the series:
Graphics: Great. “Photorealistic” most probably describes it best. Gameplay: taking over the established mechanism, and adding one highly innovative one: you can freely switch between the three main characters. Story and open world approach: It’s a great story, and the option to have three different endings is a welcome alternative to many games that are not called Skyrim. Individual clothing is back, sadly, no tons of apartments/houses for your characters. And the world is big – and very detailed. And tons of side missions.
Am I happy? “Happy” is not enough to describe it I guess.
Price paid: unknown
It uses a typical shooting game engine. But you don’t get to shoot. Instead, you have a pistol with which you can make orange and blue circles on surfaces. And then can walk into one and come out the other.
What is really interesting for the first ten or twenty minutes gets boring soon. Add to that a stupid storyline, and it really is like filling a nine-course dinner with just a tasty chewing gum.
Am I happy? No. I don’t get what people find so great about this.
Price paid: €6.45
Have you ever seen non-Euclidean geometries? M.C. Escher painted a lot of those. Have you ever been in a non-Euclidean geometry? This is what this game is about.
Using a standard shooting game engine as well, you need to find your way out of labyrinths – which are challenging because going up and up can get you downwards. Or vice versa.
A really great adventure in a completely surrealistic world.
Am I happy? Yes! This is how it’s done, Portal guys!
Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain
Type: Action RPG/Stealth game
Price paid: €33.67
I hate cutscenes. This one has tons of them.
In the first mission, you escape from a hospital set on fire by strange aliens. In the second, you rescue a guy. For the remaining 40 main missions, you bust your ass off trying to control the catastrophes caused by said guy’s mismanagement. You play about ten missions twice for some strange reason. In between, your most-productive team member leaves the team due to mobbing by the aforementioned mismanager.
Apart from that, you get to do stealth/combat missions in a semi-open-world setting, developing new weapons, building departments for research, logistics and whatnot.
Stealth is, in most missions, an option, not mandatory. Sadly, most missions are much harder (and get you a lower ranking) when performed stealthily. And no flexibility with regard to the story. Apart from that, the game engine, and the feel of the game is great. And there’s nice graphics, too.
The story is the most absurd crap I’ve ever seen. Your only choice to make this game enjoyable is to skip all of them. Quickly.
Am I happy? Yes – but I wish there would be a function to turn off all cutscenes.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Type: Action RPG/Stealth game
Price paid: €9.49
Another stealth action thingie in a big franchise. I remember the first Splinter Cell game, and that I didn’t like it because it was too much stealth faschism.
Years later, in a pretty modern game engine, Sam Fisher, the protagonist, is back, albeit with a unit with a different name. This time, the game ranks you after every mission in three categories for a “You sure I was there?”, surgical or sledgehammer approach, respectively.
This, in comparison to the aftorementioned MGS, or also the Hitman series, is by far the best system I’ve seen yet. You can proceed any way you like (and there’s often totally different solutions to each level), but in the end, the stealthy approach gets you more points (and in the end, more money).
The story is somewhat stupid, and a little bit too Homer-Simpson-patriotic, but truly acceptable. Cutscenes are still a problem, though.
Am I happy? Nothing out of the ordinary, but: yes.
Price paid: €1.49
You’re a dude who works with a software company in a boring small town in the US and, during the game, is bound to go postal. Reasons include aliens, islamists, activist groups, Gary Coleman. But mostly the very outdated game engine combined with buggy level design.
Urinating onto things plays also a big role in the game (including onto yourself).
Am I happy? Complete waste of money. And time. I regret the time more.
Life is Strange
Type: Interactive story
Price paid: €9.65
You’re a self-centered, whiny girl who thinks she’s an artist and attends a college in a boring small US town. During the game (which is a very minimalized point-and-click first-person-view adventure, which was new around 1992), we learn that due to her personality, she has problems with about every person dead or alive that knew her.
She also discovers an ability to rewind time. This is the rest of the game. You would have the possibility to change outcomes, but the game doesn’t let you. In the end, you can make a choice between two unreasonable options.
The game is almost entirely cutscenes, and you know how much I like them. What’s more, it’s a graphics quality which would be acceptable for a strategic game, but not for one that all of the time features close-up shots of hair with bokeh in the background.
Am I happy? A lot of people rating that highly explains a lot. About the people, not the game. What useless code!