Category Archives: Reviews

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Valiant Hearts: The Great War Review

Valiant Hearts is a game that makes me question the very nature of video game reviews.

It takes us to a time and place that video games rarely explore; Europe during the First World War. There we follow the stories of four people who have all found themselves mixed up in the war against their will. There’s Karl, a native German living in France with his wife Marie, who is called back to Germany to serve. Marie’s father Emile, who gets drafted into the war by France. Freddie, an American living in France who joins the war in order to seek vengeance for his fallen wife. And Ana, whose nursing and driving abilities aid her in a quest to find her kidnapped father.

Oh, and there’s of course a loveable medical assistant dog named Walt, who crosses paths with each of these characters throughout the game.

Part of what makes this game so very hard to review, is just how beautiful it is. Valiant Hearts’ art style takes cues from several prominent graphic novels and classic Disney films, but I can’t say that I’ve ever really seen anything quite its equal in any other medium. You can get an idea of just how gorgeous this game is by looking at pictures of it, but to truly appreciate the full extent of its artistic majesty, it must be seen in motion.

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FTL: Advanced Edition Review

I’ve done the math. In the 55 hours I’ve played FTL, I’ve beaten the game four times. If the average single player game lasts eight hours, then I’ve played about six single-player games worth of FTL, and beaten four of them. That not too bad. In fact its…

Oh who am I kidding. Any mention of my success in FTL requires me to turn a blind eye to the hundreds and hundreds of failures that go along with it. But you know, that’s the FTL experience. You work through the failures, and try to glorify the successes as much as possible so you don’t feel too inadequate.

It’s a downright cruel game in that respect. And with the release of the free update FTL: Advanced Edition, it’s back for more.

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Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Review: A Rough Trip Down Your Favorite Road

Resident Evil 4 is one of those games that can send shivers down the spine of a seasoned gamer, even if by some miracle they’ve never played it.

That’s because its very name is synonymous with video game greatness. Not only did it revitalize the Resident Evil series, and introduce a fresh approach to the third person shooter, but it represented for many the peak of cinematic excellence in gaming.

Mention the game around a fan, and they will instantly start rattling off their favorite moments of this story about former Raccoon City police officer Leon Kennedy’s mission to rescue the president’s daughter from a village of cultists.

That is, unless they played it on the PC.

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Drunken Robot Pornography Review: Why You Don’t Let Your Creative Team Go Home After Finishing the Title

Whenever I see a video game title like “Drunken Robot Pornography,” I have a tendency to view the game it’s attached to in the same way that I view a young man in a Ferrari. Which is to say, I assume that it chose something flashy to ride in on, in order to make up for some serious deficiencies.

In this case it turns out my assumption was slightly off, albeit not by much.

Drunken Robot Pornography (hereby called DRP), styles itself as a bullet-hell game the likes of which you’ve probably played in 2D shooters like Ikaruga. These games earn their name thanks to their tendency to throw an unreasonable amount of enemy bullets, and other projectiles, at the player, resulting in a smashed controllers, broken keyboards, and a steady flow of impressively vulgar curses.

What immediately separates DRP from other games of that type, is its first person perspective. To my knowledge, that has never really been attempted in a game labeling itself as a bullet-hell experience.

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Besides dodging waves of projectiles, progression in DRP means meeting the goal outlined for each level. This often involves defeating the level’s boss (known as titans), but sometimes requires you to score a certain amount of points, or perform both.

Based on the game’s title, you may assume that DRP has a unique personality at the least. You’d be wrong.

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Jazzpunk

Jazzpunk Review: Somewhere on the Edge of Greatness

I have a tendency to give any comedy video game bonus points straight out of the gate, simply because the genre needs some love. As it is, comedy video games are a barren wasteland with few examples of how to do it right leading the way. Putting yourself on that path is worth some consideration for sheer bravery.

Jazzpunk is a game that needs no such special treatment. That’s because it’s a comedy video game that (get this)…is actually funny.

Perhaps the easiest label to throw on Jazzpunk’s humor is parody. In fact, there are many calling it the gaming equivalent of the movie Airplane, which I suppose is accurate.

The primary target of the game’s various spoofs are the spy films of the 50′s and 60′s. This is most obvious through the game’s basic plot which sees you complete various espionage assignments for an underground spy agency. Of course while spy and noir films are the primary target, ultimately there is no element of pop culture that isn’t fair game.

More important than any specific parody targets is the fact that Jazzpunk tackles them all with a sharp satirical wit. Sure there’s the odd blunt trauma joke here and there that swings hard and misses its mark, but the vast majority of the game’s parodies are either delivered with an expert precision that makes them appear effortless, or are cleverly hidden somewhere in the environment waiting to be found by eagle eyed players with Wikipedia like reference knowledge.

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But gaming has done parody before. It’s, in fact, the go-to for any video game comedy that hopes to stir a laugh or two from the user, even if they are cheap.

What separates Jazzpunk from its peers is the game’s ability to take a hint from different sources, but never produce a carbon copy of their humor. It’s influenced by many great comedies that came before it, but never feels derivative of any of them because of the game’s unique style. The world of Jazzpunk is a little bit Monty Python, a little bit Looney Tunes, a little Rocko’s Modern life and a little In Like Flint, but at the end of the day is its own thing that owes only a nod to its predecessors, rather than the entire credit.

Unfortunately Jazzpunk’s insistence to work without a creative net means it does fall flat on its face from time to time. This is particularly true of the gameplay.

See Jazzpunk is a point and click adventure game that features all of the puzzles and clicking around randomly you’ve come to expect from the genre. Only here the challenge is almost non-existent. The game’s levels are very tightly constructed which does help the comedic delivery, but hinders the exploration aspects of the puzzles. Often times the answers you are looking for are blatantly obvious and require little actual investigation or challenge. You’ll spend more time voluntarily hunting down hidden jokes than you will necessary objectives.

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Even worse are Jazzpunk’s mini-games. When you first encounter them, they’re nothing more than additional clever references, and fun time sinks. Towards the end, though, the time required on them starts to well exceed their welcome, meaning the final parts of the game take a noticeable dip in quality.

That’s an issue made worse by the game’s length. You’ll have to work hard to get more than a few hours out of Jazzpunk, which may not be entirely unusual for a $15 game in the modern age, but is worth noting.

Complaints aside, you really have no choice but to play Jazzpunk. After all, how often do we get a genuinely gut bustingly funny video game that features the kind of tightly scripted zaniness that made Monty Python a comedy revolution, while sporting little of the tired jokes that have thus far plagued the genre?

Sure Jazzpunk doesn’t last very long, and could have benefited greatly from some more involved puzzles, but it’s difficult to demonize the game for its length or gameplay deficiencies, when the experience you do get is so tightly crafted and brimming with creative love that it often feels like changing a single bit would mean deflating the creator’s dream.

Jazzpunk’s brilliance easily trumps its obvious flaws and puts it on a recommendation level no other video game comedy has achieved before:

Essential.

Score: 8/10