Full Reviews

Full game reviews as we beat them, there will be a balance of both new and old games reviewed. We review the basics of the game and deliver scores in a few categories and an overall score out of 10.

  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

    Full Review

    Metal Gear Solid 4 CoverMetal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is the final chapter of the Metal Gear saga (kind of).  It seeks to wrap up the complicated plots from the previous three games, which up to this point seem to be fairly divergent.  It also seeks to perfect the gameplay and presentation for which Kojima-san and his Metal Gear Solid games have become famous.

    It is also the first game in the series on the PlayStation 3, and it uses this hardware to be one of the best looking games ever.  The MGS series has always used the in-game graphics engine to render its cutscenes to prevent a jarring disconnect between graphic styles, and this is the first time it works perfectly.  The in-game character models look good enough that you can't complain a bit.  The facial animations and lip-syncing is increbible.  The game is, in a word, stunning.

    So we know the game looks good, we can tell that from screenshots and trailers  Is it good?  Is it fun?  Is it worth buying?  For those of you with short attention spans, the answer is yes.  For everyone else, read on.

  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

    Full Review

    Mario Luigi Bowsers Inside Story CoverIf there's a series I lost track of over the years it's Mario RPG, which is really now made up of two series.  After the original Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars on the SNES, Nintendo split up their new Square-spawned role-playing series between their consoles and portables. The curious Paper Mario started off on the Nintendo 64 and the even curiouser Mario & Luigi kicked off with Superstar Saga on the Game Boy Advance.

    While I had loved the original Super Mario RPG, I had a bit more trouble getting into Paper Mario. I played through most of the game, but after watching my cousin beat it from start to finish over a long weekend, I packed it away for good.  And for whatever reason, I never played any games from the Mario & Luigi series... until now.

    Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story was getting great reviews so I added it to my Christmas list on a whim.  I received it, surprisingly, and added it to my portable gaming queue, and after forcing myself to finally beat Zelda: Spirit Tracks and read through the long Miles Edgeworth game, I finally landed on Bowser's Inside Story.  Why the heck did I wait so long?

  • Perfect Dark

    Full Review

    Perfect Dark CoverSometimes, nostalgia has the habit of biting back. Hard.  Ten years ago, Perfect Dark was released on the Nintendo 64, and along with The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, capped off a great system by pushing it way past its limits.  I gobbled this game up when it was released by throwing parties in my parent's basement and putting off getting my driver's license for another month.  GoldenEye 007 was a great first-person shooter, but we were ready for some Perfect Dark.

    Ten years later, and Perfect Dark is ported to Xbox Live Arcade.  I was a bit worried: how would a pre-Halo first-person shooter play against its modern day brethren?  In my opinion, while GoldenEye was the console shooter breakout hit, Halo had set the standard for how they should actually play.  Its control scheme is still used to this day, and imagining myself strafing with the C-buttons gives me the shivers.

    For only $10 though, it was a hard bargain to pass up.  Here was a game that I coughed up $59.99 + tax before I even had a job, I could easily hand over 800 Microsoft Points for a trip down memory lane.  My friend Jim also bought the game, and we decided to take the journey together, playing through the single player campaign via online co-op (imagine doing that ten years ago on the Nintendo 64!).  While we had both played the original, I was the more die-hard fan and had pored countless hours into my multiplayer character.  We started up, with him playing as the lovely Joanna and me as the blonde no-named sister.

  • Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

    Full Review

    ace Attorney Investigations Miles Edgeworth CoverThis game was a long time coming, but the true evolution of the Ace Attorney series has arrived with Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth.  After four games of playing as a defense attorney, we finally experience what it's like to play as a prosecutor, particularly fan favorite Miles Edgeworth.  Miles has been a staple of the series but mostly as an antagonist turned sort-of-friend, but now we get to take direct control of him in a series of cases surrounding a smuggling ring and a great thief.

    I've played all the previous games in the series and reviewed the last two on this site, Trials and Tribulations and Apollo Justice.  While the games themselves are really long and haven't really evolved gameplay wise over the last five years, I'm still continually drawn to them year in and year out.  They just have this great charm to them that not only stems from great original writing, but also the best translations in the business.  A ton of effort goes into these games' stories and characters, and it shows.

    So here's my review of Miles Edgeworth, in what could be the last game in the Ace Attorney series since the team has apparently moved on to a new game called Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective.  I truly hope we see more from the Phoenix Wright universe one day though.

  • Split/Second

    Full Review

    Split Second CoverIn all my years, I’ve never been much of a racing game fan. Quite honestly, the idea of doing the same thing over and over feels tedious to me. While some games, like Need for Speed Underground and Gran Turismo have offered vehicle customization to try and keep things fresh, they still seem to fall into a slump of painful repetition.

    But Black Rock Studios, the creators of Pure, have strived to come up to a solution to this plague, and that is massive destruction and a game premise unique from any other racing game I’ve ever laid my eyes on. This solution is called Split/Second.

    The premise of the game is that you’re a stunt driver in a reality television series called Split/Second, that has these stunt drivers racing against each other in cities manufactured by the television show. While stunts, in themselves, are not entirely new, the massive chaos is extremely refreshing.

    We’ve all played Mario Kart, and we’ve shot koopa shells at our enemies and laughed as they were rendered motionless while we passed them into first place, and it’s relatively satisfying to a point, but this is different.

    But where Mario Kart is set to stun, Split/Second is set to kill. From gas station explosions and helicopters dropping explosive barrels to air planes crashing on the raceway, this game delivers a completely original adrenaline rush that delivers over and over again.

    You’re in control of these beautiful disasters with power plays, which are your weapons in this dog-eat-dog racing world. The way to activate them is to accumulate energy. You can accomplish this by drifting around corners, drafting behind your opponents, and jumping with your vehicle. You also receive a bonus amount of energy by passing opponents while drifting, jumping past opponents and dodging power plays set off in your path.

  • Iron Man 2

    Full Review

    Iron man 2 CoverSequels. Comic franchises converted to video games. Movie tie-ins. Studios closing their doors. Needless to say, there are a lot of barriers that can narrow the odds of producing a high quality title. It would seem that Iron Man 2 was forced to hurdle all of them. As I mentioned in my recent First Hour review of Iron Man 2, its predecessor was critically panned. But did it deserve it? Or did it fall prey to the echo chamber of hate that often befalls licensed products and spin offs? The truth is, Iron Man had it’s problems. From unwieldy controls to frame rate issues, it seemed like it stumbled each time it would just get up to speed. But it had moments of fun, high intensity super hero action that carried one through to each subsequent mission. Going into a sequel, one assumes that Sega Studios San Francisco, the developer behind both titles would make an effort to improve the failings of the original while trying to maintain those things they got right the first time. The question is, did they pull it off?

    After sitting in on the developer conference call for Iron Man 2, I was hopeful that things were looking good. They talked about a dedication to listening to fans, and to implementing those lessons they learned from user feedback on the first game. They talked about simplified controls, vast levels, destructible environments and deep customization. They touted a boss that is “bigger than any boss in any game ever”. And War Machine. War Machine sounded like a perfect addition to the Iron Man gaming universe. Yes, it sounded like it had really come together. And so I eagerly anticipated my review copy, thinking back to the flawed but fun experience I had with the first game.

  • Red Steel 2

    Full Review

    red Steel 2 CoverThe first third-party Wii game was revealed in the May 2006 issue of Game Informer. It promised intuitive swordfighting controls and unmatched precision in gunplay, all in a stylish Yakuza setting. In the six months between reveal and launch, Red Steel hype built to unattainable levels. Disappointment was inevitable. But even with tempered expectations, Red Steel is barely an average game, and the case for motion controls in action games took a serious blow when it failed to impress.

    That said, the game rode the launch hype into some pretty decent sales, eventually crossing the million mark. A sequel was rumored almost as soon as the original appeared on store shelves. It took three and a half years, but the sequel did eventually arrive in March 2010. Barring the focus on guns and swords, Red Steel 2 is nothing like the original: the realistic visuals are switched out for a cel-shaded style, the Yakuza setting and characters are changed to an otherworldly-mix of Samurai and Western trappings, and the hopes dashed by waggle at launch are replaced with renewed fervor for precise motion controls, which are provided by the Wii Motion Plus controller attachment that Red Steel 2 requires.

    Even if you made the mistake of purchasing Red Steel back in 2006, don't make the mistake of ignoring Red Steel 2 now.

  • How Persona 3 destroyed my love for Japanese RPGs

    Full Review

    Persona 3 fes CoverIt was just a few years ago that I was a Japanese RPG freak.  In just one holiday, I asked for and received Persona 3 FES, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, and Rogue Galaxy.  Three of the biggest JRPGs to land at the end of the PS2 lifespan.  You know how much of those games I've played since?  About 30 hours of Persona 3, the first hour of Rogue Galaxy, and I haven't even touched Valkyrie Profile 2; I blame it all on the games themselves.

    If I were to make an exhaustive list of my all-time favorite games, it would undoubtedly be topped by Chrono Trigger, closely followed by Suikoden II and Final Fantasy VI, with Final Fantasy X somewhere up there too.  All Japanese RPGs, and all very good games for varying reasons.  I spent my college years playing more from what used to be my favorite genre, and watched my roommate play a ton of them including the original Valkyrie Profile, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, my copy of Xenogears, and pretty much the entire Xenosaga trilogy.

    Maybe I was already burned out on the genre when I heard about how great Persona 3 was; how it was the ultimate JRPG and that a re-release of the game was going to put it into my budget again.  By the time I started playing it, I even had Persona 4 in my possession already (which I also haven't touched).  I knew without a doubt I was going to love this game.

    Note: This post evolved from a rant on Persona 3 into a rant review on Persona 3, so while it's designated as a full review, I have not beaten either Persona 3 FES or Odin Sphere.  No final scores will be given for obvious reasons.

  • Bad Cube

    Full Review

    bad Cube CoverThe iPhone App Store is flooded with games, some of them very good, most of them bad, but there's just an oversaturation of everything.  Only the lowest common denominator crap rises to the top (unless it's Plants vs. Zombies, that game is awesome) and tons of gems are drowned by a sea of Sally Spa clones.

    One of my close friends, Rory Johnson, is an iPhone game developer, and he just released his second game: Bad Cube.  Early last year he released Circle Challenge, more of a personal challenge than anything else, and I finally got the chance to talk about it at the end of last year.  It's a fun, free time waster where the object is to just draw circles.  A simple concept, but it helped Rory learn the ropes of Objective C and the App Store.

    Bad Cube is definitely a game, and a fun, challenging one at that.  It's in 3D, features the shooting of hexahedron objects, and kicked my butt many times.  I had the pleasure of watching the game mature from the "look! a 3D cube!" stage to the "look! a 3D cube that I can shoot!" stage, and it was entertaining to say the least.

  • Mass Effect 2

    Full Review

    Mass Effect 2 CoverI've been delaying writing my review for Mass Effect 2 for a while now.  It was my most anticipated game in years, and I bought it the day it came out and finished it a few long nights later.  I pored over 40 hours into my first playthrough of the game, longer than even my first run of the original.  This was going to be my defining game of 2010, my Game of the Year.  It's two months later now and I've played it more since I beat it, but I still haven't compiled all my thoughts on it.  Half of me wants to write the best review possible for one of the best games ever, and the other half of me wants to make sure it really was one of the best games ever.

    I'll start with my conclusion though: I loved it.  It's a beyond excellent game that takes the series and the genre into new territories.  Mass Effect 2 tries something new at every bend and seemingly succeeds at them all.  I had built up an incredible amount of hype for the game, and I can honestly say it surpassed my expectations.  BioWare, my hat goes off to you.

    A little more introduction though: Mass Effect 2 was released in late January of 2010 for the Xbox 360 and Windows.  It's the direct sequel to Mass Effect which was released in late 2007.  The game was published by EA and is its flagship product for its downloadable content scheme.  The free-with-a-new-purchase Cerberus Network has provided us with plenty of free and paid for DLC since the game was released, and more is on the way.  It's BioWare's second big AAA title in about as many months with Dragon Age: Origins coming last November.  Everything seems to be going right for them.

    So you can tell I enjoyed the game already, but read on to see exactly why.  Here's my full review of Mass Effect 2.

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