Thursday, August 31, 2017

Now Playing: Street Fighter EX2 Plus

 Street Fighter IV before Street Fighter IV.
Ken's got an ugly case of the 'early 3-D' disease.
 God, that cover is ugly. I used to be familiar with the European one, this one:
C'mon, how badass is that?
 Which is so GOOD it ain't even funny. As for the game itself, well, when I was younger there were three PS1 fighters I used to spend hours on end playing: Marvel VS Capcom, Bloody Roar 2 and... Street Fighter EX2 Plus. A few years ago, close to when I started this blog I think, I wrote about EX3 and claimed that it wasn't as good as EX2 and... it wasn't.

 I've played Arcade Mode with three characters already, and boy is it fun. Sure, it's not a particularly good looking game, just compare it with Tekken 3 or, well, Bloody Roar 2, but it tried, it really tried. For starters, veteran Street Fighter characters have new moves or have new animations for older moves that make them look more painful than before. Arika's original characters are hit or miss, but Kairi and Garuda are undeniable badasses.

 Street Fighter usually got flak for not making a good transition into 3-D, but people are wrong. EX2 works and plays as well as any Street Fighter game worth its salt. Granted, it's not as deep or complex as Street Fighter III, but not every game needs to be.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Review #458: Shin Megami Tensei IV

 The perfect example of Atlus' decline.
 While I can't say I've been a fan of Shin Megami Tensei since forever, I can say that I am... or rather was a fan of the franchise. They are fun, dark and grim JRPGs that feature atypical characters and intricate plots. But Atlus has changed a lot, and Shin Megami Tensei IV is a clear example of said change. It attempts to lure in long-time fans of the franchise by looking like Shin Megami Tensei, but it's clearly a game for their new-found Persona fans.

 The game has you playing as a mute hero from the land of Mikado, the land of Samurai, who have learned to muster the power of Demons to protect their city against other Demons. A land stuck in the past, victim to classicism born out of castes. Joining the hero are Walter, a Samurai that came from humble origins, Jonathan, one of the highest caste and the token girl Isabeau. If you know your Shin Megami Tensei you'll already figured out that each companion represents a different alignment: Law, Chaos and Neutrality. As something of a departure from the franchise, all three heroes will be accompanying the main character throughout most of the quest, but sadly, this doesn't necessarily mean more depth. Characters are rather bland, and while the story has some fantastic twists, such as the revelations once you come upon the world below Naraku, they can't hide the fact that characters are walking anime tropes. Which would be understandable if this was Persona, but it is not. Isabeu is far removed from previous heroines, being a walking waifu archetype that loves manga, and Walter and Jonathan's motivations draw from cliched plot devices. Mind you, it's not a bad story by any means, but it falls short of what one would expect from Shin Megami Tensei. Heck, even the art direction suffered, it's hard to take Medusa seriously when she sports the goofiest face I've seen.
 As far as gameplay goes, it plays like most modern Shin Megami Tensei games, using tried and true turn-based battles with the Weakness 'one more' system as well as having the player talk with demons in order to have them join his cause. The Samurai are equipped with an armlet that has an AI named Burroughs that not only lets them manage their roster of demons, but also save their game(How meta) or purchase enhancements, such as healing HP or MP while walking, discounts for summoning demons you've already obtained, bonuses when leveling up demons and many others. Yes, you can save and load your game at any time, as well as lower the difficulty if you so see fit. Dying can be remedied by paying Macca(in-game currency that's rather hard to come by) or Play coins. And you'd think that this is a way to handhold players, and maybe it is, but it's also a bit of a necessity, you see...

 The first 10 or so hours of the game are absolutely grueling because of poor game design. Shin Megami Tensei games have always been challenging, but fairly so. This time around it feels like it's entirely luck based. Something that holds true from the very start to the very end of the game is the fact that whoever gets the first turn will win the battle. Y'see, hitting an enemy with a weakness will give you an extra turn, considering your party is made up of the hero and up to three other demons you can get a total of 8 turns... which the enemy hordes can also earn. The problem is that every spell has a base damage, and even low-level spells dish a ton of damage at a base level, so it's entirely possible to die without having a chance if an enemy caught you by surprise. This also means that a boss that decimated you in one turn, because he had the first turn, can be absolutely demolished in a single turn if you go first. And this happens because who goes first in a boss battle is entirely random. If you hit an enemy with an element it resists then you lose a couple of turns and give the enemy a one-turn boost in damage. Remember how I mentioned that the supporting cast traveled with the main character? Well, they get a turn after your turns, and they are so stupid that it's entirely possible that they will hit the enemy with a spell they are strong against, thus giving them said buff for their next turn. Fun. The first hours are harder because your HP, as well as your demons', is very low, so an enemy hitting a weakness can mean death. So yeah, sure, you can lower the difficulty, save at any time or save yourself from death for price... but they are all there to compensate for how much luck can factor in a battle. It's not easy to recuperate from a mistake, such as having a single demon weak to Force on which enemies can profit in order to maul the rest of your team.
 The exploration part of the game is a bit lacking too. If you've played SMT before you know that they like using simplified maps for the overworld, but the map this time around is... too small and cramped, so it's not much use. Exploring dungeons is more straightforward but they added a weird gimmick in which you must move the camera up or down in order to climb surfaces or crawl through small openings. Why? What does that add to the game? What a useless gimmick. And while Burroughs keeps track of your quests and sidequests, sometimes can be a bit disconcerting figuring out where to go. And since I'm at it, this game has the most random Negotiating that I've ever seen in a SMT game, even demons from the same family can react differently to your choices, and it seems like negotiating always goes against the player, so have fun losing turns and HP as you try to sway an enemy to your cause.

 Waifus and character stereotypes? Check. Atlus tax? Check. They tried to justify the extra 10 dollars by adding a guide that nobody wanted, but still. What else is next in the Modern Atlus checklist? Ah! Yes, DLC, which this game has up the wazoo. Remember the four angels? Staples of the franchise, which you get to fight most of the time. Well, they have been redesigned and do have a part to play in the story... but can only be fought if you buy the DLC. Macca is hard to come by, need more? DLC fights to earn Macca. Your level is too low? DLC fights for extra experience. There's so much DLC it ain't even funny, there's even DLC armor, which is kinda ridiculous considering how you can only see your main character when exploring dungeons. So yeah, scummy Atlus' DLC? Check.
 I also want to touch upon the presentation. I'm a strong supporter of the 'graphics don't make a game' camp, but what the hell is this? I mean, I know what it is, in their effort to lure in long-time fans they most of the game look like the SNES classics. Enemies are represented by rather lackluster sprite-art, although at least they stay true to Kazuma Kaneko's designs, well, the enemies that still use his designs anyways, as I've previously stated, some of the new designs are rather poor and amateurish. The 2-D character portraits scream 'Generic Anime' as well, looking as if they came out of Persona 3-4 rather than SMT. Heck, important NPCs are represented by static 2-D sprites as well. The only time the 3DS' muscle is used is when exploring dungeons. Look, the 3DS can do MUCH better than this, and Shin Megami Tensei has looked MUCH better than this, just pick any game from the PS2 era. It's off-putting how many corners they cut with their flagship franchise.

 Shin Megami Tensei is very disappointing for a Shin Megami Tensei game, but it's still a great game on its own. Which is why it was hard to set apart what I wanted out of the game with what it actually is. After you get through the hardest, unfairest part of the game it actually gets fun, and the challenge becomes more fair(even if luck is an ever-present factor). For as disappointing as the story and characters are, there's no denying that SMT's brand of dark horror is still present, even if to a smaller degree. But it's time to accept that Atlus has changed, and with it, Shin Megami Tensei as a whole. Goodbye, it was a good ride.
 8.0 out of 10

Review #457: Gladiator - Sword of Vengeance

 There're many chinks in this Gladiator's armor.
 Before Sony took us to Ancient Greece, with its gods and copious amounts of blood, we had Gladiator - Sword of Vengeance, a similar game in concept but with a much different execution, and set in Ancient Rome. This is a hack and slash action game that tried to do its own thing, to varying degrees of success.

 Arruntius has come to power, turning Rome into a city of... even more blood and more malice, and to celebrate he promises Rome the blood of a champion, the Invictus Thrax, a Gladiator that remained undefeated... until these games happened. But it's not all that bad, Thrax gets sent to the Elysium Camp upon which he learns that Arruntius is being helped by the gods Phobos and Deimos, but he too will be aided by gods, given a second chance and a mission: Kill Arruntius. The story takes a backseat to the gameplay, so don't expect interesting dialogue or characters, but it's an interesting set-up to have you, Thrax, slay both mythological creatures such as Cyclops and... Spartan Skeletons as well as other Gladiators.
 The game takes place throughout 6 stages, but each stage is relatively long and offers bonuses for exploration, so it'll take you between 6 and 8 hours to do everything and collect everything. The game is a bit weird, but it's mostly competent, R1 initiates locking onto enemies, and L1 can be held to target a secondary enemy. This is a rather important mechanic, y'see, Thrax can only perform three-hit combos by mixing Square and X attacks together, with no way to juggle enemies or create your own combos, but you are rewarded for switching between targets as you perform your three-hit combos. Rapidly switching, and successfully hitting different enemies will fill a gauge on the top of the screen that rewards you different bonuses, just as double strength, defense or even invulnerability, but do be careful, as the bonus only remains as long as the gauge is over its icon, and it will drop rapidly if you fail to hit enemies. Lastly, circle can be used to dodged, Thrax can't block, and triangle to use magic, three types that build upon each other, which grant you bonus strength(Easily the most useful), life-leeching or splash damage.

 For the most part, it's a competent system that's relatively fun. For the most part. There's a few kinks that keep it from being great however. For instance, you can't dodge or attack unless you are locking onto an enemy, which can throw you off when you are fumbling with the R1 button, since sometimes the game will autolock, and sometimes it won't, so you might accidentally turn it on or off, and while you deal with that you'll get hit with no chance to dodge. And if an enemy starts blocking... you can't do anything about it but wait until it gets bored and does something else. Certain enemies, the ones with black life bars, can be 'executed' in various, gory different ways, but I found no advantage or reward for doing so except having to go through a short loading scene, so they are pretty lame.
 You are given three different weapons: Sword, Axe and Gauntlets, and to be fair the do have different attacks, strength and speed, but, BUT you can't switch between them mid-combos, a huge missed opportunity. Combat could've been made more rewarding too, although to be fair exploration IS rewarded. Peppered throughout the first five stages you'll find challenge rooms that will bestow you with: Gauge enhancers for every weapon, new weapons(I didn't notice much damage improvement between them, but hey at least they look different!), combat gauge extenders, life bar extenders or one of 20 collectibles. These collectibles can be used to unlock the fourth combat gauge extenders for each weapon and collecting them all lets you choose one of the three ultimate weapons. These are instantly rewarding, which made searching throughout stages a fun enterprise.

 Not that they don't come with a few caveats, however. These fourth combat gauge challenges are unlocked somewhere inside levels you've already been into, and going back to a previous stage means having to endure every single cutscene, even the ones that introduced enemies and solving most puzzles. Not my idea of a fun time. Speaking of cutscenes, they can't be skipped and, to put a cherry on top, the game can get rather challenging, so have fun watching those cutscenes again. And did I mention that there's no manual saving? Hopefully there was a checkpoint close by, lest you have to replay and rewatch much! And I forgot to mention, you can unlock all three final combat gauges after clearing stage four, but don't go after the gauntlets' , since you'll backtrack all the way only to be told that you are missing the third combat gauge power up... found in stage five. Brilliant.
 Before wrapping up, I must mention just how boring and repetitive bosses are. There's one boss for every stage, kinda. The second stage has you fighting Phobos, which is easy as pie but takes a long while since you need to build your magic meter. The third stage features Phobos again, with one new technique, but is basically the same boss. The fourth stage has Deimos that fights similarly to Phobos, but at least beating her is slightly different. The five stage has Deimos again, only a bit different. The last boss is a bit different too, but once again, repetitive and boring, since it's very easy, but takes too long to defeat.

 Gladiator Sword of Vengeance is a mixed bag. The basics are competent, stages are vast, pretty and fun to explore, with a lot of rewards waiting to be earned. Combat is very simple, but I'd lie if I said that I didn't have fun most of the time. But it falls short in other areas, combat needed more polishing and more depth, replaying stages or segments shouldn't have been such a pain, and the bosses desperately needed more creativity. It's a decent weekend game, if anything, one that's easier to remember as a huge waste of potential.
 6.0 out of 10

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Now Playing: Gladiator - Sword of Vengeance

 Before God of War there was...
 Gladiator - Sword of Vengeance, before God of War took us to ancient Greece, Sword of Vengeance had as slicing and dicing in ancient Rome. I used to play this game back when I was younger and I actually liked a lot, but as I grew up I always wondered why people forgot about it.

 And I think I kinda, sorta get it. By today's standards the game is pretty dated, combat consists of 3-hit combos, no juggles, no linking, no nothing fancy and dandy that other, future games would implement. But still, I must insist that at the time of its release it was pretty dope, even if less involved that Devil May Cry.

  Well, I'm midway through the first level, and it gets better the more power ups you unlock, so here's to looking forwards to what the game can offer!

Review #456: X-Men - Mutant Academy(Playstation)

 It features costumes from the movie, in case you didn't read the overexcited note on the game's cover.
 X-men - Mutant Academy came out of the left field when the X-Men movie came out, as sort-of a tie-in game. Sort of, because despite featuring costumes from the movie, sorta, it has nothing to do with it, and it's a 2-D fighting game of all things!

 The game offers a few different modes: Arcade, Survival, Training and Versus Player, which are all self-explanatory, as well as a 'Academy Mode' that teaches you every move your character has. And you might as well go through it, since there's no in-game movelist and the booklet is no help in this regard. There's 10 characters in all, Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Phoenix, Gambit, Beast, Magneto, Mystique, Sabertooth and Toad, each character featuring their comic book costume, an unlockable alternate costume as well as a costume based on their looks from the movie, Gambit and Beast gaining entirely original outfits, since they didn't appear in the movie. By the by, finishing the game rewards you with a 15 second long CG movie... which are used in the opening movie, so it's a bit of a waste. The Outros for clearing the Academy Mode with every character are very short and unrewarding too.
 The game runs on the very popular 6 button set-up, with three punches and three kicks of varying speed and strength that can be used to string combos together. Characters can also block, by holding back on the joystick, perform throws and use counters, although you only get three per round. The combo system works well enough, but each character only gets about 3 special moves and 3 super moves, which is very lacking. I also felt like the controls, when it came to inputting special and super moves, sometimes were a bit unresponsive.

 The game has a very original set-up in how Super moves work. By dealing damage you build energy on a three-tiered gauge each tiered tied to a different super move. Each tier requires more energy than the next, the weakest super being a simple super move, the second tier being a 'Stringed super move', which lets you boost its damage by pressing the appropriate directions on the D-Pad and lasty, the Xtreme Move, which is the strongest super and... is just another simple super, but one that deals major damage, most of the time anyways. You can transfer energy between tiers, which is brilliant, but in order to perform the Xtreme move... first you have to mash the X button to form an X on the gauge. Seriously. It's pretty idiotic considering that the X is a weak kick, so they expect you to mash X as you press other buttons? When the enemy lies down? What's the point of this mechanic? It's the only blemish on an otherwise great idea.
 And that's Mutant Academy in a nutshell, a good but unremarkable game. It adds some fantastic ideas to the fighting game genre, specifically how you can manage the energy gauge, but it's a bit lacking in other areas. Characters could've used more moves, the fighting could've used some more oomph behind it... and then there's the fact that Mutant Academy 2 makes it completely obsolete.
 6.0 out of 10

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Now Playing: X-Men - Mutant Academy(Playstation 1)

 No, there's no X-Menathon.
 I actually only wanted to play the second game, since it's basically Mutant Academy + extras, but... the seller shipped this one instead. I've put it up for sale, but in the meantime... I might as well give it a try.

 Issalright. I mean, there's a bunch of neat ideas that would be polished and expanded upon on future games, like different gauges for different special moves, or moving energy from one gauge to another. So it does have original ideas, which are rather welcome, while also playing it by the book: 3 punches and 3 kicks, blocking by holding back on the joystick, etc.

 I've played the game with a bunch of characters, and it feels rather... limiting. Each character has about 3 specials and 3 supers, which kinda falls short of what one would expect. Performing special moves feels a bit unresponsive, I switched to Street Fighter EX3 to make sure that it wasn't my controller acting up, and no, it wasn't, for whatever reason this game sometimes has issues with my inputs.

 On the whole, it's an entertaining little game. I'll be off trying out the rest of the characters.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Review #455: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2(DS)

 Well... it's an interesting experiment to say the least!
 While far from technical marvels, the Ultimate Alliance saga wasn't something I'd have thought a good fit for the Nintendo DS, yet Activision likes the smell of money and having had one of the largest installbases for a videogame console during its era, porting the game to the DS was a no-brainer. The end result is lackluster... but it's also interesting how they managed to cram the brunt of the game into a tiny DS cart.

 Ultimate Alliance 2 loosely follows the Civil War storyline from the comics, but only for a little while before introducing Nanites and it's zombie-like disease which forces heroes, villains, allies and enemies to work together and stop the infestation. The DS' version of the plot is very flimsy and little time and attention is spent treading each story thread. Heck, one of the home console version's selling points was that each path offered exclusive characters and stages, but in the DS version there's only one unique mission for each path and by the end of the game you'll have the full 15-character roster at your disposal... probably a consequence of having a single save-file and no New Game+. The DS version's noteworthy for being the only one to have the Sentry and She-Hulk as playable characters.
 The game deserves praise for keeping in-tact so much about the console game. You still play as a four-man team of your choosing and go from dungeon to dungeon beating enemies for experience points. The entire control scheme is kept intact: Weak and Strong attacks, a grab attack and the jump all done with the face buttons, press L to block and hold R and press face buttons for the four different abilities. Whereas the console game had four different attack abilities, in the DS version there're 3 attacks and 1 buff. As you'd expect, defeating enemies earns you experience which eventually lets your characters level up. With each level up you earn a single ability point to spend enhancing your four active skills or the two passive skills. Auto-assigning ability points is also set on by default. which sucks so bad, but it can be turned off. Sadly, Equipment/Boosts are gone entirely, so there's no way to customize your four man-squad.

 But not everything's perfect, as you'd expect having your four-man team on-screen is pretty taxing on the poor DS, and once enemies get into the picture... let's just say that the framerate is pretty bad, you'll play the entire game in sub-20 FPS. Since the DS has no analog of any kind, there's no way to turn the camera around, which you can get used to, but it's still pretty sub-optimal. There's also the fact that there's no mini-map of any sort, and while you can access the map by pressing select, it's pretty laggy. Navigation could've been even more annoying, but the devs took this shortcomings in mind, so levels are pretty straightforward, which has the inevitable result of making stages feel bland and repetitive.
 Beating enemies also makes them drop health and mana orbs, just as in previous games, but new, yellow blobs as well that serves to charge a new five-star gauge. You can use this gauge to perform 'fusion attacks'(Which look so bad and choppy on the DS that you don't even know what's going on, but it deals a lot of damage so who cares!) or revive fallen characters. The AI is pretty bad, one too many times I found them using their powers and wasting mana on thin air, and they seem to have trouble following you through doorways. The game's difficulty is pretty spotty as well, this one time I entered a double boss battle and was destroyed in a few seconds flat, tried again and I managed to defeat the same two bosses very easily. Regardless, expect to be reviving allies pretty often, either due to their own idiocy or because the game just decided to become hard for no reason whatsoever.

 Being a DS game, the developers introduced a few tap minigames. The most annoying one being the bomb disarm/computer hacking one, which the game doesn't properly explain how to perform. I had to look online for an explanation, and was happy to find out that I wasn't the only one suffering through the first one. And some bosses will have you tapping the screen too, without any warning beforehand, which is really dumb since I have to pop-out the stylus at a moment's notice. Or use my fat finger, which isn't always precise enough.
 While Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 on the DS isn't very good, I can't help but appreciate how well they managed to translate everything to inferior hardware. A few kinks needed addressing, making the AI allies less dumb, maybe allowing you to move the camera around by holding the L button, like the PSP did, allowing for more nuanced level design, maybe having a mini-map on the lower screen instead of having a needless HUD, and removing the touch-screen mini-games, at leas the ones involving bosses. I mean, the inferior hardware pretty much makes a direct translation impossible, but a lot more could've been done to polish this game.
 4.0 out of 10

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Now Playing: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2(DS)

 You didn't think I'd skip MUA 2, did ya?
 But there's a small caveat... it's the DS version I'll be looking at. Y'see, I've owned MUA 2 on PS3 for a while now and I don't really need to play it again, and since I already remembered MUA 2 as a step down from the first game, I didn't really want to delve into the subpar PS2 version so, instead, I'll be giving MUA 2 on the DS a look.

 Well, I'm midway throughout the first Doom level, and while I like how it already feels like an adaptation of the console game, since they even kept the prologue, the game's lacking in a few key areas. There's no way to move the camera around, which sucks, and there's no mini-map on a game that desperately need one. The framerate is garbage.

 But, BUT I will give kudos to the developers for managing to port the game into such a tiny, weak console. It's a rather impressive feat, even if the end result is a bit meh.

Review #454: Marvel Ultimate Alliance(Playstation 3)

 Finally the final port of MUA!!
 So you know the drill by now, I've already written about the game, twice in fact, so I'll spare me the trouble and only go by the things that make this port different from the Playstation 2 and PSP ports.

 2 bonus characters, Colossus and Moon Knight and... that's it. There're no bonus modes, no bonus comic mission bosses, only Colossus and Moon Knight. Colossus absolutely terrible, weak powers, uninspired moveset and has 1 less skill than your average character, which is pretty lame. On the other hand, Moon Knight is downright fantastic, he goes down in a few hits, but god oh go, his damage output is through the roof, his Nunchuck skill might be the best skill in the game, and his Staff passive ability is fun to play with, although he gets shortchanged too, being the only character who only gets three costumes instead of four. While Moon Knight is easily among my favorite MUA characters, the PSP had more bonus characters altogether, and none were quite as bad as Colossus, so as far as bonus characters goes, the PSP wins this one.
 The HD graphics are leagues above the PS2 and PSP, it almost looks like an entirely different game. Almost. However, the framerate is still pretty bad and at times it can chug almost as hard as the PSP version. Almost. On the flip side, this version has the shortest loading times which is a huge plus considering how long these could get in the PS2 version.

 So... which version is better? None of the ones I played. Seriously, all of them have their ups and downs, the PSP version might have the most content, but is it really worth it? The brunt of the game remains the same and you can easily live without them. Moon Knight and Ronin are fantastic characters, but do you really need them? If I had to, I'd probably give the edge, and only by a very slight margin, to the PS3 thanks to its shorter loading times. But, if you asked me, the best way to play Marvel Ultimate Alliance is... on PC. PC has, by default, the PS2 character roster, but, BUT you can mod it to get even the X360 characters, heck, you can mod X-Men Legends character into it, HECK, modders have created entirely new characters from scratch! If you want the best possible Ultimate Alliance experience, PC is the way to go.
 7.0 out of 10

Monday, August 14, 2017

Review #453: Bloody Roar

 Finally a good fighting game for a change!
 Bloody Roar's a furry's dream come true, in this 1 on 1 3-D fighting game you play as humans that can morph into animals, anything from wolves to moles. It's a lot simpler than your average fighter, going for the mantra of pressin' them buttons to make flashy stuff happen.

 The game has the usual assortment of modes: An Arcade Ladder, VS CPU or Player, Time Attack, Training and Survival. There're 8 different characters, a few that never returned to the franchise like Mitsuko the Boar, Greg the Gorilla and Fox the, erm, Fox. While it's a relatively small character roster, it's pretty much up to the standards of the era, plus, all 8 characters have two different models, human and animal, as well as a few different costumes.
 There's a single punch button and a single kick button, but filling the Beast gauge lets you temporarily transform into your beast form with the circle button, once in beast mode the circle button turns into a third attack button. Beast mode reverts once the Beast gauge reaches to 0, which decreases as you get hit, and then receiving a hard hit, but how much damage you can take in beast mode depends on how much you charged the Beast gauge before pressing circle. Beast form has a few other perks, besides a third attack button, like regenerating some missing health and better juggling ability.

 Attack strings are relatively smooth for the era, making the combat feel fluid and fast. Being a 3-D game you'd expect a side-step, and there is one, but it's turned off by default. The final mechanic is Beast Rave, by pressing Triangle while in Beast form you'll gain more speed, allowing for more combo opportunities, but at the cost of having the beast gauge constantly decreasing. As previously stated, it's not the deepest of fighters, but it's fun, and the simple and few mechanics make it easy to pick up and play.
 While there're no characters to be unlocked, beating the game with the various characters unlocks a ton of different modifiers. No Walls, No lighting, hidden gauge, large arms, plus, you can play with deformed, big-headed characters from the get-go. It's nothing major, but at least it's something.

 While future games in the franchise left this one far behind, Bloody Roar 1 has all the basic elements that made the franchise what it is. Which means that while future games would add a lot of welcome mechanics, this one doesn't feel all that obsolete, add to that the fact that this game features three characters that never made into future games, so there's something of interest for fans of the franchise.
 7.0 out of 10

Now Playing: Marvel Ultimate Alliance(PS3)

 One final time....
 I really overestimated how much I would like the game based on my nostalgia for the game, so here we are, with the third almost identical version of the same game. And I'd lie if I didn't say the game is wearing out on my, I can only take so much of the same punching and mashing game I've been playing since Legends 1, 'cause let's be honest here, the franchise hasn't changed much.

 As for this version, now we get Colossus, Moon Knight and HD graphics. That's pretty much it. By the by, the new HD graphics are pretty nice, particularly the lighting, but man, oh man, is the framerate still pretty bad. Seeing how this isn't a particularly intensive game, partly due to the fact that it's a multigenerational game, I was expecting a smooth 60 fps, but it runs sub 30 most of the time. At least it's got the shortest loading times among all the version I tried.

 As far as Moon Knight and Colossus go, Moon Knight's been proving rather fun, I love his boost which changes his moveset to use the staff. Pretty original and fun to use. Colossus is.... is a surprise as to why he is here. Probably because it was easier to port pre-existing assets. I mean, they did the same thing with the X360's DLC characters: Cyclops and Magneto are understandable, since they're a big part of the X-Men mythos, but Nightcrawler and Sabertooth? Just reusing X-Men Legends II assets. Anyways, Colossus didn't stand out much, but maybe once I get his full moveset my opinion on him will change.

Review #452: Dragon Ball GT - Final Bout

 What is a videogame?
 Dragon Ball GT Final Bout sucks. It's as bad as the show that spawned it, and it just might be the worst game I've ever played since I started the blog. And it has no excuse, Final Bout was the latest in a long string of fighting games based on Dragon Ball, but it's terrible, worse than anything that had come before or after it. And its sole saving grace, the gorgeous, epic intro? The animation's the same, but  the badass Japanese song from the original release was lost in translation, the American localization substituting it with a lame, boring tune.

 Booting up the game presents you with the barest of modes: Battle(CPU or Player), Tournament, Build up and a Training mode hidden inside the options menu. The only mode that beats an explanation is build up, in which you can take a character and fight various fights to level him or her up. If, and only IF this was a good game, this addition would've been brilliant, but this game is as far from being good as it can. The roster selection is pretty bad too, for a game bearing the GT brand it sure loves Z, featuring the likes of Cell, Kid Buu, Frieza, Piccolo, Vegeto, Z Gohan and Z Vegeta, with only Pan, Trunks and Kid Goku representing GT. It went a bit overboard with Gokus too, there're two Kid Gokus(Normal and Super Saiyan), 3 Gokus(Normal(GT), Super Saiyan(GT) and Super Saiyan(Z)) as well as Super Saiyan 4 Goku, and all 4 adult Gokus play the same. There're also three seemingly identical Trunks: Trunks(GT), Super Saiyan Trunks(GT) and Future Trunks. Oh, about half of the cast is hidden behind a code that must be re-entered every single time you boot up the game. Brilliant.
 But a poor roster selection would be salvageable with top-notch gameplay, something this game lacks. Let's start with the simplest of things: Movement, which they managed to ruin. Moving around feels very stiff and slow. You can hold R1 to dash, but characters take about half a second before they start dashing, and if both fighters end up back-to-back, it takes about a second for them to turn around. You know you messed up when moving around, on a flippin' 2-D fighting game feels wrong in every single way. And as far as I could tell, there's absolutely no way to block attacks, because why the hell follow tried and true conventions? I tried to do some research, and X is supposed to be the guard button, but I'll be damned if it worked for me.

 Alright, so the movement is crap, what about the fisticuffs? Square punches, Triangle kicks and circle shoots ki blasts. And combos don't exist. Seriously, landing any sort of attack feels awkward as hell, since any kind of attack makes enemies stagger backwards, with no window of opportunity to link another attack. What's their excuse? it's not like there had been hundreds upon hundreds of fighting games released before it, so what's their goddamned excuse? There're special moves, performed by tapping certain directions and attack buttons, as well as ki-consuming super moves. Super moves can be defended on countered depending on what combination of buttons you press when the opponent performs theirs. Good luck remembering every button combination, because Meteor Combos have their own set.
 Meteor Combos are initiated by pressing R2 towards an opponent, successfully landing the blow will let you follow up with different button combinations. The enemy must guess what attack is coming next and press the appropriate button combination. Either way, Meteor combos don't feel very responsive to button inputs, so get ready to drop them a plenty! Assuming you remember what button combination does what, assuming that, for whatever reason, you care about learning how to play this poor excuse of a 'game'.

 Dragon Ball GT - Final Bout is the worst kind of garbage. Not only is it absolute garbage as a game, not only is it irredeemable with nary a positive quality about it.... It's also rather rare, which makes it rather expensive. It's an expensive piece of garbage, not even worth the price of admission as a curiosity. This is the worst game I've ever played since I started the blog, and it's so bad I hesitate calling it a 'game'.
 0.5 out of 10

Friday, August 11, 2017

Review #451: Marvel Ultimate Alliance(PSP)

 What is this, a game for Ant-man?
 Seeing how this is pretty much the same exact game as the PS2 version, I will simply go over what was added to this version.

 First and foremost, four new characters: Hawkeye, which looks cool, has cool looking moves but is kinda weak. Captain Marvel, who isn't very appealing to look at but has powerful moves, Black Widow, whom I didn't care about, but has a few strong moves an Ronin, which looks badass and has some of the best moves in the game. Is it worth it purchasing the game just for the new characters? Well, Ronin is pretty good and I'd put her on my team... but nope, they're all that worth it, you can do just fine with the other versions of the game. There're also 5 new sub-missions, if you're into that, one of them housing a new boss. Once again, not worth it. Oh, and unlocking Hawkeye is incredibly stupid, forcing you to register online, so just pop the character unlock code and have fun.
 Beating the game unlocks 3 bonus modes: Hardcore, in which once a character dies he is gone for good, Hardcore Squad, in which you're limited to only four characters and once any of them dies they are gone for good and UberHero, in which you can only play as a single character, but a overpowered one. The Hardcore modes might be appealing, but once again, not worth a separate purchase if you already own another version.

 As for the overall game, it's a pretty neat little conversion. The controls have been tweaked and are a bit awkward at first, due to having less buttons than a joystick, but once you get the hang of it you'll be just fine. They did the best they could with the reduced button amount. For instance, since there's no analog stick, moving the camera around consists of holding the L button and pressing Square or Circle, and swapping characters consists of holding L and pressing a direction on the directional pad, while holding R and L lets you block. It's cumbersome in comparison to the home console setup, but it's understandable.
 The game runs pretty well on the PSP, while the overall polygon count is lower, I think the lighting effects are better than on the PS2. The Framerate at its best is smoother than on the PS2, but at its worst it gets a bit choppier. There were a few kinks related to movement, sometimes upon landing from a jump a character would get stuck on the jumping position for a few seconds, this happened every time I had to climb down a rock wall as well. Annoying, yes, but it's not a dealbreaker.

 While I wouldn't suggest getting this version over the others, in spite of the added content, it's a fantastic port of the game that performs almost as well. And truth be told, if you don't mind having to go through hoops for local multiplayer or deal with less optimal controls... it just might be your version of choice!
 7.0 out of 10

Now Playing: Marvel Ultimate Alliance(PSP)

 Yeah... this might've been a mistake.
 I was so enamored by my Marvel Ultimate Alliance memories that I thought I would love the game all over again, so it mad sense to get the handheld version as well. I mean, a Diablo-clone with Marvel characters and even MORE characters? Count me in. I remembered it like a 8-9/10 game, not a 7.

 Oh well, I just inputted the codes and got meself all four bonus characters, the costumes and the abilities, which I'll be taking all the way through to the end of the game.

 Hawkeye: All his cotumes are decent, but I specially liked the 'Street Clothes', the one I'm using. His skills are fun to use.

 Ronin: All her costumes are fantastic, but I'm going with the second one since I loved the abilities, and her skills are top-notch, they look devastating and feel fun to use.

 Captain Marvel: I didn't care for his appearance, any of them, so I went with the default look. His abilities are alright but nothing caught my eye.

 Black Widow: I actually thought her default appearance was the Winter Soldier('What? A fifth bonus character?! Oh, it's Black Widow....'). Can't say I care about the character either, but I went with the Yelena costumes since it struck my fancy the most. Her skillset is alright, but I'm particularly fond of her first skill, since it feels powerful.

 All in all, as much as I'm liking Roning... the rest of the cast are alright, but nothing to write home about. Even if you love the game you can do without these extra characters. Or you could download the PC mods and add Ronin to your roster.

Review #450: Mortal Kombat Trilogy

 Now I remember why I didn't like classic Mortal Kombat.
 While Mortal Kombat was free of Street Fighter II-style upgrades, it all changed with Mortal Kombat 3. And then Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. And finally, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, a 'dream' game of sorts, compiling every single character from previous games, for a total of 32(Plus 4 bonus 'retro' characters) playable characters. And it sounds like a dream come true.... for Mortal Kombat fans exclusively.

 You boot up the game and... there're only three modes: Arcade Ladder, 2 on 2 and 8 man battle. Don't be tempted to go into anything but Arcade Ladder unless you've got another joystick, else you'll be stuck in the character select screen for all eternity, or until you reset the console, since those two other modes require another player, no ifs or buts. It's a pretty silly design flaw, if you ask me. Even for a fighting game of its time, the mode selection is pretty lacking. The Arcade Mode is an absolute nightmare, since the game becomes unbearably hard pretty early on, with the CPU reading your inputs and reacting with uncanny reflexes to your moves. Which kinda sucks, since unless you've got another joystick lying around, there's no way for you to try to figure out your character since the CPU will pound on you over and over and over and over and over and over again. And there's no moveset anywhere, not even on the instruction booklet, so you're on your own.
 ....but let's assume that you persevered, thanks to unlimited continues, so that not even the cheap Endurance round(2-round battles in which you have to defeat two opponents on a single life bar) could stop you, and you defeat Shao Kahn and... the game freezes. Unless you're playing on an original Playstation 1, this game will have issues. On the PS2 the game will freeze after beating the final boss, it will freeze if you let the timer run out on the Continue screen and the music will stop if you pause the game. It kinda sucks. While the PS1 version has more character than the N64, you also get loading times, which are mercifully short, unless you battle as or against Shang Tsung, but the game lets you pre-pick a couple of transformations, if you so wish, so as not to have the game load mid-match. As for the exclusive retro characters... they suck. They have a few new moves, but performed with pre-existing frames, so they look awful, and their Run animation is just a sped up walk. Lame.

 As for how the game plays, it's your classic Mortal Kombat, two punches and two kicks as well as a block button. Mortal Kombat 3 introduced the run button and dial-up combos. Every character has a few special moves as well as a few unique dial-up combos, which are pre-scripted combos performed by tapping a specific string of buttons. Most MK fans hated those, I'm alright with them, since they help add variety to the characters beside their special moves. The problem with Dial-up combos is that they are way more convenient than most combos a player could come up to, so the name of the game is to learn a couple of those and perform them ad-nauseam. Trilogy introduced a new 'Aggressor' meter, which increases as you deal damage, fill it and you'll temporarily deal extra damage.
 What I will grant the game is that, as much as I hated and still hate, to this very day, digitalized graphics, Trilogy looks pretty baddass. I mean, Liu Kang, Shang Tsung and Johnny Cage actually look cool in the game, everything looks serious, dark, slim and trimmed. Mortal Kombat had never looked this cool, and while the new post-apocalyptic setting might not be to everyone's liking, the stages had never been this intricate or appealing before. I also love having like 7 palette-swapped Ninjas, and them too are the coolest and badassest they've ever been.

 Mortal Kombat Trilogy reminded me of why I didn't like classic Mortal Kombat. Say what you will, but if you remove the violence factor, the game becomes a subpar fighting game. I've no doubt that the game could potentially be fun against another player, but if you're on your own there's no way for you to enjoy the game. The CPU will kick your butt, and will do so so quickly that you won't have time to learn how to play your character or how to experiment with his moveset, and there's no training mode to facilitate that either. Still, for Mortal Kombat fans, this game will re-ignite nostalgia, and the large character roster, encompassing the entire series up to that point, is a huge selling point.
 4.5 out of 10

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review #449: War Gods

 A game that raises a lot of questions. Not good questions, but questions non the less.
 What is an intro? What is a Mode? What is an ending? What is a combo? What is a movelist? Such are the questions that this game raises and doesn't answer. Welcome to War Gods, a fighting game released to test the waters before fully committing to bringing Mortal Kombat into the third dimension. It has blood, it has fatalities and it has terrible pseudo-realistic character designs but it's no Mortal Kombat.

 The game has a set-up involving 10 pieces of an orb that turned 10 humans into gods and blah blah blah, it's not interesting nor does it concern us, for even your reward upon finishing the game is a measly 3-paragraph long ending text. Lame. There're 10 terrible looking characters as well as 2 even worse-looking bosses(Which you can play as by inputting a code) that are the cheapest you'll ever play against. You thought Goro, Shao Kang or even Rugal were bad? You ain't seen nothing yet. The game has a grand total of 1 mode, an Arcade Ladder, or 2 if you count pressing the Start button on a second controller to battle against another player, as well as an options screen. Lamer.
 The game's crowning achievement is looking worse than it plays. Character models look terrible, warp and twist weirdly when doing victory poses and having some of the stiffest animations ever. Each character has a decent, albeit a bit small, assortment of special moves as well as a single 10-hit combo. Producing combos in this game is devoid of any freedom of creativity, so don't expect much out of the engine. And if you want to see a movelist, tough luck, even the game's instruction manual refuses to aid you, so it's gonna take a trip to GameFaqs. Lameeeeeeeeeeeeee.

 As for the game's key mechanics, there's a 3D button that let's you move around freely, which is a bit wonky, Left and Right rolls, which come out a bit too slow, as well as a shove move, by double tapping the block button, that breaks guards... but why would you if grabs deal more damage and come out quicker? There's also a single fatality for each combatant, but they are relatively good looking, surprisingly, most fit the character's respective deity theme pretty well.
 War Gods is pretty bad. Like really, really bad. I don't think I've a single positive thing to say about it... except maybe that it's not broken. Everything works as intended, collision detection is fine and... well, it's not broken. But it's devoid of good, fun mechanics, the overall aesthetics are lame, it lacks fluff to make it worth playing the game after you finished the arcade ladder one.... it doesn't have anything that other games don't do better. I still have a rather soft spot for War Gods in my heart due to nostalgia, but if you take the rose-tinted glasses off there's nothing worth looking at in there.
 3.0 out of 10

Now Playing: War Gods

 Not related to God of War, thank god.
 War Gods is a game I've a bit of Nostalgia for. I remember renting it one day, for the N64, and... liking it. Well, I've always enjoyed fighting games and it's not like the N64 had a lot to choose from! This translates into me having undeserved fuzzy feelings for the game, even though it's pretty much terrible!

 You pop in the disc on the tray, go through the mandatory publisher and developer slides an then... you either Start the game or go to options, because a fighting game doesn't need any other modes. Right? Right?.... Anybody? And, you do start the game, and you quickly learn that everything looks as stilted as it feels. The movement is so unnaturally stiff that it makes for an odd looking game. As a whole, everything feels wonky. It's incredible to think that this served as a proving grounds for Mortal Kombat 4, because it feels nothing like it.... which probably makes sense considering how bad War Gods is.

 Oh well, only 9 characters to go....

Review #448: Marvel Ultimate Alliance(PS2)

 Not the marvel I remembered.
 Raven Software had a pretty neat thing going with their Marvel-infused Diablo-clone X-Men Legends franchise, and Legends II took a lot of steps in the right direction, so one would expect that they'd follow the same trend with their next enterprise, the much more ambitious Marvel Ultimate Alliance, right? Well, they took some steps in the right direction alright, but they also took a few backwards.

 Dr. Doom, Loki, the Enchantress, Ultron and Baron Mordo have teamed up, probably due to their affinity with the color green, as the Masters of Evil, and their first order of business was taking down SHIELD. Nick Fury issues a call to arms, and over 20 heroes of the Marvel Universe heed the call, teaming up on a 5-act romp to stop the evil doers. The story is pretty tame and bland, but it's alright as an excuse to gather all these villains and heroes from the Marvel universe. The game has more sidequests than before, but the game, as a whole, is about as long as Legends 2(13-15 hours). And if you intend to play it, the sixth generation home consolse and PC versions are the worst, since they have the least amount of characters. PS3 gets Colossus and Moon Knight, X360 has those two as well as other six(Including Dr. Doom and Hulk), PSP gets Ronin, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel and Black Widow, while the newest PS4/XOne ports get all 8 X360 characters
 Plenty has changed since Legends II, I assume in an attempt to streamline the game, but not everything worked as intended. You still take control of a 4-man unit, going from 'dungeon' to 'dungeon', beating enemies, leveling up, learning new abilities and getting loot, and the controls are more or less the same, but a few key elements have been tweaked or removed entirely. Shops are a thing of the past, what little equipment there is you'll find on chests or dropped from bosses, and you can sell them on the spot while on the equip menu. The equipment variety is very small, I'd say even smaller than Legends I's paltry selection, and now characters can only equip a single item, for whatever reason.

 For whatever reason, Auto-leveling and Auto-equipping is set On by default, so unless you turn it off one by one on every single character the moment you start the game, you'll have to deal with
the CPU distributing all skill points when you switch to a new character, which sucks. A lot. Skill points are gone, kinda, stats still increase upon leveling up, but you no longer get bonus points to spend on each. Probably for the best, since let's be real for a minute, in both Legends 1 and 2, 'Body' and 'Focus' were the only stats worth a damn. Still, I would've liked for them to make melee worth it rather than can the stat distribution entirely. Passive Abilities are now tied to costumes, every character gets 4 different costume and each costume has 3 different passive abilities each, these abilities are upgraded with.... money. And if you want to level up a special move but lack the points(you get one on each level up), fret not, you can spend in-game money to level it up, which is kinda odd.
 I'm not done. Health and Mana Potions have been given the axe, instead, now enemies may drop health and mana orbs upon defeat, which can be picked up to restore either. Melee combo strings have been reduced to strictly 3-hit minicombos which is baffling. You can block attacks now though, for whatever that's worth. Reviving characters no longer costs money, but rather.... Time? What the hell? You have to wait four minutes before you can revive a character, which is a very dumbfounding. Since when is wasting a player's time a good idea? But the cherry on top? QTEs made it into the game, because why not?

 Not everything's gone down the crapper though, the core of the game remains the same, so it's still a fun game, just not as fun as it could be nor as fun as Legends II could get. There were a few improvements too, abilities such as Flight and Might no longer cost precious ability points and come by default on characters, and the obstacles requiring specific powers are almost entirely gone, save for a very few optional roads. Xtreme Moves(I guess they are 'Extreme' now since it's no longer an X-Men game?) no longer share an energy pool, which makes it so that you'll want all your characters to learn theirs'.
 I know I've been very critical of the game, but I can't stress this enough: The game is fun to play. It is, there's no denying that. But a lot of the streamlining really hurt the game. Customization is too shallow for my taste, it's a shame they gave up on stat distribution rather than making other stats useful, and making equipment so banal was a bad choice. QTEs were a terrible idea, but they are not too pervasive, luckily, but why they reduced melee combo strings is beyond me.

 Marvel Ultimate Alliance could've been a great thing. The concept is pure genius, and the fact that the game is still fun despite how many steps back it took from X-Men Legends II speaks leagues for the potential behind it and how well they executed the core mechanics.
 7.0 out of 10

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Now Playing: Marvel Ultimate Alliance(PS2)

 Some memories are better off left untouched.
 I Loved this game, with capital L. So much so that after I found out it was actually the third game in the franchise I had to delve into the previous games, well, the one with a PC port anyways. And I still liked this one the best, heck, I've been comparing Legends I and II to what I remembered about this game. And I've been reading through forums and was surprised at how much people preferred Legends II to this one. After giving it a try, I can't blame them.

 Let's start with the good, skills such as Flight and Might now come by default and you no longer need to waste ability points in them. The character roster is pretty good, with four costumes for everyone(except the Silver Surfer).

 Then the mixed, there're no more stat points, stats increase automatically when you level up. I kinda dislike having lost the customization, but let's be real here, there pretty much was a 'correct' way to build characters, Strike was almost useless, Speed didn't matter all that much, so you had to decide how much points to invest in Body and Focus. Potions are a thing of the past, enemies drop health orbs an mana orbs when they die.

 As for the bad... holy framerates. At least it got better once I entered the ship, but what a poor first impression. The combo repertoire has been reduced to 3-hit mini-combos exclusively. Passive abilities have been scrapped, but now every costume has an exclusive 3-passive abilities each. Why the **** is everything set on 'auto' by default? I will equip the equipment and I will distribute ability-points.

 Bottom-line is.... The game is not as good as I remembered it to be, and maybe, just maybe... I might like X-Men Legends 2 a bit better than this one.

Review #447: Dead to Rights - Retribution

 Police brutality at its finest.
 And so came the advent of the PS3 and the X360, and with them a whole slew of HD revivals and reboots, so Namco took their mismanaged franchise Dead to Rights and rebooted it into the world of HD. This era had no room for arcade shooters, so it turned into a slower, cover-based over-the-shoulder shooter while retaining some of the things that made Dead to Rights Dead to Rights. And that sentence sounds amazing.

 Being a reboot of the first game, it also follows the same framing narrative: Jack's, Frank dad gets killed and there'll be hell to pay as cop Jack Slate and his faithful canine companion, Shadow, scourge the city to find the culprit. The game touches upon many of the first games plot devices, but it's made up of 80% new story. And it's a better story, we finally have a female who is more than eye candy, and they added depth to Shadow and Jack's relationship, making it very endearing. Jack is still a prick though, but it's not as bad as he was in Dead to Rights II. But as entertaining as I found the story, it's still a very cheesy, predictable action-cop tropefest, but a fun one.
 The town is filled with crime and evildoers, so it's a pretty good thing that Jack's a pretty good shot. Everything you'd expect out of a post-Resident Evil 4 third person shooter is here, an over the shoulder camera and precision shooting. The health system has been removed, in favor of the era's standard regenerating health. Pressing X will make Jack sprint or stick to the closest surface he can find... which is a bit wonky, since X is usually a context-sensitive button, so dashing straight out of cover will result in Jack sticking right back to the surface, or trying to spring after letting go off a NPC will result in Jack picking him or her right back up. After playing for a while you'll learn to make do, and as far as gameplay goes, it was my only concern.

 Now then, it has the name 'Dead to Rights', so a ton of staples of the franchise you'd expect to be in made it into the game. Jack can disarm enemies, but instead of being an autokill, you'll have to time your shot right, else they counterattack or run away... and enemies can disarm you too, so be careful! You can also grab enemies as meatshields, and while the slo-mo dives are gone, you can now use L1 to use Focus in order to slow down time and maximize your damage output. Focus is increased by many different actions, mostly having to do with how you take down enemies.
 Shadow is more than a tool this time around. Dead to Rights II was pretty bad about it since Shadow would just disappear after you called him in, but now he'll stay by Jack's side at all times. Shadow can be called upon an enemy, to kill him or distract him while Jack deals damage, as a matter of fact, some enemies must be defeated by joint efforts between both. And just as before, Shadow can be sent to retrieve weapons from fallen enemies. But do be careful, as Shadow can be wounded and eventually knocked out, in which case you must get close to him and hold X to revive him. You'll also get to control him directly during various, fun, stealth sections. Most enemies will go down in a single bite, and you'll have to drag bodies in order to make your way through. These sections were surprisingly well made and served for amusing breaks from all the shooting.

 But as faithful as Shadow is, retrieving weapons for Jack, our hero can only carry up to two different guns and you'll eventually run out of ammo... but that's fine, because Jack is one tough mo-fo. Square and Triangle perform weak and strong attacks respectively, while Square is used for blocking or dodging, you can even grapple with enemies. The melee system is well integrated into the game, and it's a reliable way to take down enemies, since Jack's a beefcake that can take a lot of punishment before you need to go back behind cover and regenerate your health. Landing punches feels crunchy and hurtful, which makes engaging in fisticuffs rather fun. Dealing a lot of damage in quick succession will allow Jack to perform a brutal takedown, but there's about 8 of them, so they get repetitive rather quickly.
 I did some researching, since I didn't understand how this game failed to revive the franchise. The word 'generic' was the one that surfaced the most. And how? What other third-person shooter has a competent melee system? No, seriously, as a fighting game enthusiast I love taking things up close and personal, and few third person shooters offer melee options, and those that do, are often throwaway punches or gun-whips, not a full-blown combat system with different combos, grappling, dodging and guard breakers. This is most definitely not your average third person shooter. Plus, what other third person shooter, outside the franchise, has a loyal dog at your side, chewing on throats and retrieving ammo for the hero?

 Before wrapping up, there was a silly little hiccup, that also affected other players(At least on the PS3) when it came to the game's performance. Y'see, every now and then, the game will have micro-freezes. I don't know what caused them, since the game didn't appear to be loading or saving anything, and they last less than a second, but they are quite noticeable. But don't worry, your PS3 isn't about to explode.
 Dead to Rising - Retribution has a reputation that it doesn't deserve. The game is good. Like really, REALLY good. The fighting is fun, the shooting is fun, even the unnecessary dog stealth missions are fun. And I won't hesitate to call it the best in the franchise.
 8.5 out of 10