Dark Souls II (2014) – 10/10 fantasy action RPG game review

AmazonBuy Dark Souls II at Amazon

Cast / crew

Dark Souls II (2014)

Drangleic is way past it’s glory days and, without it’s king, has transformed into a remarkably dangerous place. Bring the family; all falls included!

10/10

It took a surprising couple of hours before I died in Dark Souls II. This certainly doesn’t have the dank, morbid atmosphere of the endlessly and rightly lauded Dark Souls but it does have the wonderful unfurling exploration for which, remarkably, you don’t need a map; we learn the lay of the land just like we learn our own streets by travelling them every day. This is another way the Souls games are, possibly, unique among open-world games. While some of the boss battles feel like extra large normal dudes, there are some true highlights including Executioner’s Chariot and, in Royal Rat Authority, a boss that may require you to change game-long tactics (SPOILER disengage lock-on and get under his feet) and teaches you through emergent gameplay rather than a loading screen tip. As for the not dying… well, I sure made up for that later. Dark Souls II is a spectacular, immersive, ridiculously generous game but, aside from a much better user interface and vastly improved PC performance, it’s a hair less effective and atmospheric than Dark Souls. A hair, I say, and still a masterpiece in it’s own right. P.S. The DLC is all fully amazing.

This game contains violence

Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.
Classified 16+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 16 or over..

Links

Advertisements

F1 2012 (2012, PC Windows Steam) – 10/10 Formula 1 racing game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Ian Flatt
Creative Director: Stephen Hood
Game Director: Paul Jeal
Technical Director: David Percival
Technical Art Director: Stephen Johnson
Art Manager: Andrew Watt
Designer: Jason Darby
Designer: Lee Mather
Designer: Mark Lewis
Designer: Mark Russell
Nick Barber: Race Engineer
David Croft: Presenter
Anthony Davidson: Hot Lap Voice

F1 2012 (2012)

10/10

This remains the best racing series of it’s generation and a number of small tweaks and the new Austin track enhance the experience yet further. The inclusion of unpredictable weather was a masterstroke and Codemasters have also made the evolution of the car throughout a weekend with it’s differing tyre and fuel components even more distinct than before. Harsh penalties are still a minor issue, though; AI cars cannot receive penalties and their mistake / mechanical issues do not scale for shorter races meaning they never make mistakes. F1 2012, astoundingly, remains the only major racing title to feature all the principle elements of racing: practice and setup, qualification and racing with pit stops; something Forza and Gran Turismo have ostentatiously failed to deliver in the 360 / PS3 generation.

Mass Effect 3 (2012, PC Windows) – 10/10 role-playing science-fiction action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Project Director: Casey Hudson
Lead Designer: Preston Watamaniuk
Lead Writer: Mac Walters
Art Director: Derek Watts
Lead Programmer: David Falkner
Producer: Jesse Houston
Development Director: Corey Andruko
Jennifer Hale: Commander Shepard
Mark Meer: Commander Shepard

Mass Effect 3 (2012)

When the Reapers attack Earth, Shepard is pulled out of enforced retirement (thanks to her association with Cerberus) and reassured that she may have been right after all about this universe-ending thing. However, the universe hasn’t ended yet and Shepard isn’t ready to stop punching fate in the face.

10/10

One of the amazing emotions that a game can stir in a player is that of being a total hero. The first Mass Effect had it, the second didn’t (it was too mechanical), this third instalment of arguably the most ambitious video game project of all time does. It also entertains, thrills, intrigues and moves you. This is a terrific third-person shooter wrapped up in a terrific role-playing game wrapped up in a terrific universe and is absolutely a must-play.

This game contains very infrequent sexual swear words, bad language and violence, graphic headshot violence, gory and unpleasant scenes and potential homosexual and heterosexual sexuality.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Links

Dark Souls (2011) – 10/10 fantasy action RPG game review

AmazonBuy Dark Souls at Amazon

Cast / crew
Director / Producer: Hidetaka Miyazaki
Lead Programmer: Jun Ito
Lead Graphic Designer: Makoto Sato

Dark Souls (2011)

Not living, not dead, not capable of dying (just becoming hollowed), you’ve been banished to a remote prison. One day, a knight peers into your cell from the broken ceiling and tosses in a cadaver bearing a key for your door. Who he is? Don’t know. Why he gave you a key? Don’t know. Why it had to be on a cadaver? Absolutely no idea.

10/10

I suspect any discussion between fans of the unendingly, intricately wondrous Dark Souls (no-one does boss entrances or location reveals like the Souls games) quickly turns to the most souls and humanity lost by not successfully returning to the scene of your previous demise (31,000 souls, 2 humanity – about 3 levels-worth at the time – later, 12 humanity thanks to Ceaseless Discharge unexpectedly coming to meet me; nobody does boss names like the Souls games, either). It hurts. Badly. But one of the coolest things about Dark Souls battles is that you always know why you lost and it’s nearly always your own fault (I dodged backward off a ledge; then muttered disconsolately for the next hour). You knew you wanted to be a higher level. You knew the bridge was narrow and the parapet was damaged. You knew you needed to run away and heal. You knew you couldn’t take two on at once. You knew you needed to dodge not strike. You knew your armour was too heavy to run fast. You knew your crossbow takes ages to reload. You knew you were using the wrong shield. You knew you had to be patient. You knew it would be worth it. It’s always worth it.

This game contains bad language, optionally gory violence

Classified 16+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 16 or over..
Classified Violence by PEGI. Game contains depictions of violence.

Links

Portal 2 (2011, Steam PC, PS3) – 10/10 first-person puzzle game review

Cast / crew
Ellen McLain: GLaDOS, Turrets, Caroline
Stephen Merchant: Wheatley
J.K. Simmons: Cave Johnson

Portal 2 (2011)

Woken up from hibernation once more, you must escape from Aperature Laboratories with the help of Wheatley, a friendly A.I. core, and a familiar piece of technology: the portal gun. On your way out, however, you bump into a still-alive GLaDOS.

10/10

In an era where high-profile games are getting more and more horribly and gratuitously violent, playing Portal 2 is such a refreshing experience. It is styled as a first-person shooter but is a puzzle game of the very highest order. Why? It teaches you brilliantly. On top of this, it is the funniest game yet made. Stephen Merchant’s Wheatley is the undoubted star but he is given a surprising run for his money by J.K. Simmons’ Cave Johnson, both delivering their dialogue beyond brilliantly. Graphics are fantastic with some spectacular level deformation and great lighting effects as the levels construct themselves around you. That said, loading times are horrendous; it frequently feels like the loading takes longer than the puzzle. It very much breaks the atmosphere though the game is so strong that it immediately regains it once the gaming restarts. Oh, and then it has probably the greatest gameplay ending in video game history. This is, well, a bit special.

This game contains mild bad language.

Links

Batman: Arkham City (2011, PC Games for Windows Live) – 10/10 open-world action adventure game review

Cast / crew
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Batman: Bob Kane
Game Director: Sefton Hill
Studio Director: Jamie Walker
Senior Producer: Daniel Bailie
Senior Producer: Nathan Burlow
Art Director: David Hego
Audio Director: Nick Arundel
Technical Director: Ben Wyatt
Lead Animator: Zafer Coban
Lead Environment Artist: William Smith
Lead Character Artist: Pablo Hoyos Isusquiza
Lead Level Designer: Ian Ball
Lead Narrative Designer: Paul Crocker
Lead AI Programmer: Tim Hanagan
Lead Player Programmer: Adam Doherty
Writer: Paul Dini
Writer: Paul Crocker
Writer: Sefton Hill
Kevin Conroy: Batman / Bruce Wayne, Hush
Grey Delisle: Catwoman, Dr. Stacy Baker, Martha Wayne
Martin Jarvis: Alfred Pennyworth
Kimberly Brooks: Barbara Gordon / Oracle, M.P.T. Officer Anne Bishop
Troy Baker: Robin, Harvey Dent / Two-Face
Corey Burton: Hugo Strange
Mark Hamill: The Joker
Tara Strong: Harley Quinn
Dee Bradley Baker: Ra’s al Ghul, Waylon Jones / Killer Croc, Wonder City Announcer
Stana Katic: Talia al Ghul
Nolan North: The Penguin, Black Mask, Inmate #4
Maurice LaMarche: Mr. Freeze, Calendar Man, Political Prisoner

Batman: Arkham City (2011)

At a rally supporting the closure of Arkham City – a massive secure corner of Gotham City housing all prisoners who are then left to their own devices – Bruce Wayne is kidnapped by the prison’s governor Dr. Hugo Strange. Disturbingly, Strange knows Wayne’s alternative identity – Batman – and dumps a handcuffed Wayne in the general populace straight into the mangled hands of The Penguin before ominously proclaiming that Protocol 10 will be deployed in ten hours.

10/10

Proving Arkham Asylum was no fluke, Rocksteady Studios widen the play area and loosen the story shackles giving us more, more, more of everything. Unfortunately, this leads to a fairly instantaneous lull as the forward momentum of the story can now be scuppered by the player just wandering around being Bat-tastic and constantly distracted on your way to story objectives. Still, when you do finally get there, Mark Hamill’s voice-work as Joker is, once again, exemplary. Kevin Conroy also is Batman; whenever you do something in the game, Batman will do it just a bit cooler than you expected and Conroy will make your heroic gruffness thoroughly awesome (though I’m always oddly disappointed he never says ‘thank you’ to anyone). Arkham City, like Arkham Asylum before it, simply makes you feel like a superhero, like Batman.

This game contains mild swear words, adult dialogue and strong melee violence without realistic sound effects, unpleasant scenes and sensuality.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Links

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006, 360, PC) – 10/10 swords-and-sorcery fantasy role-playing game review

Cast / crew
Executive Producer: Todd Howard
Senior Producer: Ashley Cheng
Lead Programmer: Guy Carver
Lead Programmer: Craig Walton
Lead Artist: Matthew Carofano
Lead Character Artist: Christiane Meister
Lead Dungeon Artist: Istvan Pely
Lead Designer: Ken Rolston
Producer: Gavin Carter
Producer: Craig Lafferty
Patrick Stewart: Emperor Uriel Septim
Sean Bean: Martin Septim
Terence Stamp: Mankar Camoran
Lynda Carter: Female Nords / Female Orcs
Ralph Cosham: Jauffre / Vincent Valtieri / Male Bretons
Wes Johnson: Lucien Lachance / The Grey Fox / Pelinal Whitestrake / The Arena Announcer / Dremora / Male Imperials
Michael Mack: Baurus / Owyn / Male Redguards
Craig Sechler: Hgh Chancellor Ocato / Falcar / Alval Uvani / Faelian / The Adoring Fan / Male Dunmer / Male Altmer / Male Bosmers

Elder Scrolls IV, The: Oblivion (2006)

Languishing in prison you find yourself interrupted by a very surprised Emperor’s bodyguard swiftly followed by the Emperor himself. It seems that the Emperor’s secret escape tunnel is located in your cell and that the cell should, obviously, be empty at all times. Emperor Uriel Septim seems less surprised and tells you that he saw you in a dream and that you should follow them. This is a ticket to freedom, true freedom, as when you finally leave you could assist the Emperor and his Knights’ mission. Or not, it’s up to you; you could become a mercenary and buy yourself a nice house. Or both! What will you do?

10/10

Truly impressive and immersive fantasy action romp. Everything is just that little bit better than normal, just that little bit better than even good games. The quests tend to be little bit more interesting than usual.  The dialogue is more engaging than usual despite sounding like only four people voiced the entire populace outside of Patrick Stewart and Sean Bean. The offensive and defensive combat is just a bit more involving than usual; my setup eventually had a 70% chance of reflecting damage back on the attacker so they’d essentially hack and magic and bash themselves to death while I stood there saying "Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself." The locations are just that bit better designed than usual; you could tell which town you were in without referring to a map and where the temple, your house and preferred merchants were. This is one of the best, and biggest, games ever released and it casts a gigantic shadow over every other swords-and-sorcery-themed western RPG released since. Because they’re not as good.

This game contains mild swear words, mild adult dialogue and fantasy substance abuse and fantasy, blade, projectile and melee violence.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

This blog is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.