In Swarm, a pack of vacuous anthropomorphic gumdrops require guidance through a gauntlet of puzzle-platforming designed to burn, slice, puncture and asphyxiate. Points accrue by collecting flashing widgets, and sacrificing the horde keeps the combo-based multiplier charged. The initial charm quickly gives way to a steep learning curve that employs level repetition as punishment for failure, which is completely exhausting. Patience, cracker-jack timing, and even more patience is required to advance, so proceed with caution before commanding this witless battalion.
Bayonetta is a scantily clad harpy able to command her hair (which is also her clothing) to take the shape of a massive dragon, foot, or fist to dispatch the onslaught of enemies. She also employs multiple firearms attached to every available appendage, spraying down demons with the limb-flailing subtlety of a Breakin’ extra. The bewildering story plays second fiddle to a “dodge, counter, combo” gameplay style that employs elaborate, screen-filling flourishes clearly designed to diagnose epilepsy in young adults. Convinced that Bayonetta’s mind-numbing level of insanity has effected me in ways that I have yet to discover, I score this game two pies out of bulldozer.
Walking, talking, and backtracking make up the majority of Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, a Japanese role-playing game that seems to deliberately avoid ambition. While its religious angle is an interesting stepping off point for a plot, it’s buried by underdeveloped characters, insipid objectives, and the same-old everything else.
Trying to modernize a beloved classic is a gamble that doesn’t always pay off, but Mortal Kombat is everything you could hope for. Taking the familiar cast of characters back to 2D brawling and mixing it with unfathomable brutality brings a perfect remake for a new generation. Mortal Kombat definitely delivers a flawless victory. (FLAWLESS VICTORY!!!!)
Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions delivers the action-heavy focus previous franchise outings needed. It trades a rote open-world for linear levels and objectives, boiling Spidey down to his core strengths while maintaining the web-slinging we love. Too bad it fails to carry the weight of the entire game. If not for the inelegant camera and uninspired combat, SD would have been killer.
Crysis 2 takes the tired old Sci-Fi FPS template and shakes it up by cramming a suite of options into a gray suit of armor that looks like a body with the skin stripped off. Leaping tall buildings, turning invisible, and seeing in the dark make everything feel fresh and new when the levels are open enough to let the player do so. In the other half of the game, good ideas take a breather in favor of killing waves of bipedal squid. Pluses outweigh the minuses, just don’t expect much of a story either way.
Have you always wanted to brag about kicking ass in Monster Hunter, but just couldn’t hack it? Do you love anime, large-breasted women in skimpy clothing, and enormous weapons no human being could ever actually carry? Is mashing an attack button more important than strategic thinking? If you answered yes to any of these questions (and especially if you answered yes to all of them) then Gods Eater Burst is for you.
A fantastic, kid-friendly bit of metroidvania (minus the Metroid and the ‘vania), Monster Tale’s beautifully animated sprites, colorful world, and pleasantly-familiar gameplay are proof positive that a third dimension is not required to produce delicious gameplay. Take one ass-kicking little girl, add a mega-morphing creature sidekick, and add brilliant use of the DS’s second screen. Shake well (don’t stir) and enjoy.
Heavy Rain is not so much a videogame as it is an exquisitely cruel prank. Suckers, like myself, drawn towards the siren song of “Interactive Fiction” and “Reactive Storytelling” will be given a hearty kick to the groin by designer David Cage, et al. The game dares you to enjoy it, giving flashes of brilliance obscured by a parade of bullshit. Character models sit right in the trough of the uncanny valley, twitching as if their flesh was primed to explode. Their voices are poorly scripted, discordant rasps inciting the sucker to heights of rage. Every action is obscenely unwieldy and takes thrice the time it rightfully should, drawing the pain out yet further. Finally, the story feels uninspired, tarnishing the one thing that could make these sins bearable. I want to walk away from Heavy Rain, and to do so I have to hold R2.