The Good: Inventive shadow puzzles, gorgeous art direction, interesting story
The Bad: Extremely short, puzzles are too easy, lack of overall content, disappointing ending, many bugs and glitches
The idea of using shadows as puzzles is fascinating and Contrast has one of the most unique puzzle elements I have seen since Portal. Arranging objects in a room to make the shadows lay out just right to get to where you need can be very satisfying. Bringing objects into the shadow world and pulling them out is also very fun. The story as well is kind of touching. You play as Dawn who has a mysterious child friend, Didi, whose parents are going through hard times and she wants to bring them back together. Her father is always getting into debt trouble and decides to open a circus using a magician. Everything goes wrong for her father so it's up to her and Dawn to fix it all.
The story itself is pretty interesting but the ending sucks. It honestly just ends and you never find out what this mysterious shadow world is. Her and Dawn are the only people who are in the real world. Her parents talk to her on the walls as shadows. It makes me wonder if Didi has mental issues and is imagining all this? Is Dawn a figment of her imagination? No one else can see her but it's never explained. These mysteries can be frustrating at the end when they never make sense.
The game actually is poorly paced. There's a lot of little cut scenes that break everything up and it gets really annoying. You will walk ten feet, cut scene, walk ten more feet, scene, pull a switch, scene, solve an easy puzzle, scene, and it continues like this. The puzzles are extremely easy and a few were head scratchers for a few minutes towards the end but nothing I couldn't solve after a little thinking. The game is very linear and you only explore a few areas, but explore is the wrong word to use here. The only thing you can do that's extra is find collectibles and find luminaries to be able to start certain puzzles. That is literally all there is to this game.
The game itself can be beaten in about 4 hours. The graphics are really nice, however they are a little dated and there's numerous bugs and glitches. The game would crash, Dawn would get stuck in a T pose during certain jumps, crates would get stuck due to weird physics issues and they all required restarts. That's unacceptable and hopefully will be patched. I honestly can't recommend this game for the asking price, but maybe for a sale it would be worth it. The game isn't bad, it just seriously lacks content and depth and has a disappointing ending. The shadow puzzles are very inventive and fun to do, but there just needs to be more.
The Good: Cute Pikmin with addictive and fast paced gameplay, great graphics, Battle Mode is a blast
The Bad: Some ugly textures, no online multiplayer, micromanaging can get tedious, some major AI issues, day limit is frustrating
Pikmin is one of Nintendo's lesser known franchises. While the first two were fairly successful on the GameCube they didn't reach sales numbers that match Mario or Zelda. Pikmin 3 was a great start for the Wii U, especially with a system with such few games so it can garner the attention it needs. The game is cute, whimsical, and easy to play, but has a lot of micromanagement that can frustrate players.
Like most Nintendo franchises, this game isn't about the story. You play as three different space men who are venturing into the solar system to find food and sustenance for their home planet. This is your main goal for the game. Each day you need to find fruit to bring back to your ship which then turns into juice. Depending on how many people are in your party on that day one juice will be consumed per person. This is where things get frustrating. When you're on the ground you go around collecting tokens which are used in the Pikmin Onions to create Pikmin. The Pikmin must carry these to the Onion and some tokens require a certain amount of Pikmin. If you alot more than the required amount the token will get carried faster. You can also bring enemy carcasses to the Onion to convert to Pikmin as well which is a neat idea. Of course you will lose Pikmin if they get caught up in water (except blue Pikmin) or killed by enemies. That's not even the frustrating part. You get about 10 minutes for the entire day to explore the area, gather Pikmin, and find fruit. Two days would go by where I get caught up on a boss, need to gather more Pikmin because I'm low, or just figure out where the fruit is.
This sounds frustrating because it really is. I wish the day cycle wasn't here, it makes thing annoying. I wound up losing 100 Pikmin because they were carrying a boss carcass and fruit back to the ship and I missed getting them in the safe zone by 1 second. So I spent 2 days gathering more Pikmin and another 1 day to find a fruit. In the mean time I consumed 3 juices which left me with one. If I hadn't found a fruit on that third day I would have had a game over. Super frustrating and that's honestly not much fun.
Other than this major frustration the game is super enjoyable. The game is paced really well and I felt I was blazing through areas at a brisk pace. The game keeps you on your toes with the inventive enemy designs and bosses. The variety of Pikmin is nice since they are based on elements. Rock Pikmin can smash through crystal and glass and do massive damage to enemies. Yellow Pikmin can electrocute, Red Pikmin are your base Pikmin and are resistant to fire and are great fighters. Blue Pikmin can swim but aren't good fighters. You can swap around these Pikmin and order them around with the right analog stick. I just found that micromanaging them got annoying because they can get lost and stuck in places if you leave them behind so I lost many Pikmin from that, some times I just down right lost them somewhere and had to leave them behind.
The Battle Mode is really fun. Bingo Battle puts two players against each other in an effort to gather four cards in a row. You have to collect fruit, defeat enemies, and various other objectives. There's no online multiplayer which is a crying shame, but two players on the couch is better than nothing. This mode can be really addictive and the Mission Mode will keep you coming back after the story mode is complete.
The game actually is one of the best looking Wii U games out there. It really shows the power of the Wii U with depth of field, high resolution textures, and some great lighting effects. There are some ugly textures like the dirt. It looks like Wii textures, maybe this was a rush job from Nintendo, I don't know. The previous complaint about the micromanaging and the day limit is too short. No online multiplayer is a bummer, but overall this is a really nice package and any Wii U owner should check this game out.
The Good: Wonderful art, heart wrenching ending, unique control and gameplay, fun boss fights
The Bad: Short length, controls are hard to get used to, story has no depth, too easy
Brothers is about two boys who travel across their land to find a magic sap from a very special tree. They need this sap to heal their father who has come down with a life threatening illness. That's pretty much all their is to the story. However, that's not the touching part. Brothers doesn't really start hitting your feelings until the end. Brothers has a unique gameplay mechanic where you control each brother with an analog stick. It's takes some getting used to, and you never completely get used to it, but using both brothers at the same time is a unique way to play a game.
The game consists of simple puzzles. They aren't anything complicated and don't take much thinking to figure out. Some puzzles only certain brothers can solve. There may be a gate that the smaller brother can squeeze through so he can lower a bridge for the bigger brother. Some times they have to work side by side such as in water. The smaller brother can't swim so he needs to hold onto the older brother. The only other buttons you use are the triggers. One assigned to each brother for grabbing stuff.
There are some boss fights in the game which are a lot of fun. One early on consists of fighting a troll. The little brother needs to lure him into a cage while the older brother closes it with a lever nearby. There's only one way in so the little brother has to slip through bars to escape. It's moments like this that make Brothers shine and make you smile. Later on in the game it gets darker and more grim. Puzzles involve dismembering dead corpses of giants. The gameplay ideas change throughout the game like when they have a rope tied to each other and you use it to swing each other around cliffs. The game feels like a grand adventure, but it's short lived. You can beat it in 4 short hours wanting so much more.
The game looks really good, while not technically impressive the art style is great and the game has many beautiful vistas. The story is lacking any depth, but it's the adventure that counts here. If you have a free evening for gaming, Brothers is one of the best indie games you can buy this year.
The Good: Fun and fast paced action, fun multiplayer modes, lots of customization, looks great, Declassified Missions add fun challenge
The Bad: Horrible story, extremely linear, very short, lack of maps, lack of new content
Gears of War is the Xbox 360's best series and one of the best of this generation. It introduced cinematic gameplay in a gritty post apocalyptic world with revolutionary gun play and cover system. Judgement proves that all series run out of steam. It's the worst Gears game, but not terrible. People Can Fly (of Painkiller fame) took the driver's seat thanks to their successful collaboration with Epic during the development of Bulletstorm. Judgement isn't anything like the previous games in a bad way. It's dragged down by balance issues, linearity, and a poor story.
Let's start with the story. It takes place years before Delta Squad was formed and Baird was a Lieutenant. He's accompanied by UIR Paduk, Sofia Hendrick, and Augustus Cole. They are arrested and are being held in a trial in the middle of a battlefield by Colonel Loomis. You play their flashbacks as testimonies. Honestly the story never goes anywhere and there's nothing gripping about it. You just play as each character in short 30-45 minute chapters. Once you catch up to the present moment you play one more chapter and that's it. Nothing interesting at all. Even the bonus chapter called Aftermath is pretty lame. It takes place after Gears of War 3, but all you're doing is finding a boat to get out to sea. There's nothing revealing to the overall story.
Challenge and pacing takes a back seat as well. Judgement is all about the kill count and tactical combat takes a back seat. All the enemies health have been dialed back a lot so you can run around pumping them with lead. It got so bad that 5-6 enemies will pile up on you or an ally. This would never happen in previous Gears games. I honestly rarely used cover and just went around blasting enemies with the Gnasher. The game is broken up into sections with score totals at the end. The only awesome thing about Judgement that impressed me were the Declassified missions. These are giant red gear logos on the wall at the beginning of each section that make the game a bit more challenging. Ranging from time limits, to certain weapons, more enemies, more defenses etc. These also increase your star rating which are used to unlock items and achievements.
Half way through the game it starts getting extremely repetitive. I honestly almost hated the game, but the action itself kept me hooked because it was faster paced than previous games and a bit more exciting. There really isn't much new added to this game either. There's one new enemy that acts like a mini Berserker. Once you shoot it it will grow bigger and only head shots will kill it. There are a few new weapons, but they are UIR weapons. The Booshka is a grenade launcher, the Markza is a sniper rifle with a fast firing rate. There's also another rifle that is nearly as deadly as a Longshot but fires 4 rounds before a reload. I wanted more content, honestly even the levels were generic and boring. It's the same hallways and battlefields over and over. The overall game is just really disappointing.
Once you finish the campaign there's really no reason to go back unless you really want all the stars and find the hidden COG tags, or to play co-op. The multiplayer is probably the best out of all the Gears games, but is lacking content. There aren't many maps, and Horde mode is absent, but there's a substitute mode called Survival and Overrun. Survival pits a Gears team against AI controlled Locust, and Overrun lets players control the Locusts. This mode is intense and another small step in the evolution of the Gears multiplayer suite. The classic modes are back and feel as solid as ever, but the lack of maps may bore players quicker than previous games.
Overall, Judgement is a huge disappointment. The campaign is generic, short, and almost boring, the tactical side of Gears is taken away for running and gunning. Multiplayer suffers from a lack of maps, but at least there's a lot of customization stuff to unlock for your characters. You now get rewarded for all those kills and ribbons you earn in the from of Prizeboxes. The graphics look great and push the 360 to its limits, but the console is seriously aged and it shows. Judgement is fun weekend rental or bargain purchase, at this point Gears of War needs a reboot to keep from going under.
The Good: Fantastic visuals, great controls, fun arcade racing, fast sense of speed, lots of tracks and race types, plenty of awesome real world cars
The Bad: Simulation part of GRID is completely gone, no upgrades or tuning of vehicles, some AI issues
Codemasters has been leading the way for racing simulation since DiRT came out. They were well known for the TOCA Racer Driver and Colin McRae series (which later became DiRT). GRID was a great circuit racing simulator that featured high speed machines that weren't seen in DiRT. Think of GRID as DiRT's asphalt cousin. It had a lot of great features and modes and that continues in GRID 2, but gone are the simulation type controls and feeling. GRID 2 takes a more arcade approach which is both good and bad for the series.
You start out with low end cars like the Ford Focus, a few muscle cars like the Mustang and Camaro, and even a couple of Subaru's thrown in. You won't start with the fast stuff right away. The goal of the game is to get WSR racing known worldwide and by earning respect in different regions of the world. You will travel from the US, Europe, UAE, and Asia. Racing games aren't really well known for stories so let's skip that part. Once you start racing you will immediately notice one thing: the cockpit view is gone. This is a real shame because DiRT was one of the first games to implement this during the beginning of the current generation of consoles. You are forced into the 3rd person view or the hood view which kind of sucks, but once you realize this is an arcade feeling racer you won't mind so much. You can drift easily into turns like and arcade racer and the sense of speed is great. There's no tuning your vehicles or upgrading them with parts, sure you can customize the looks, but that's about it.
Once you get over this shock you will start noticing the variety of tracks and race types. Most are typical for a racing game and seen in many other Codemasters games like elimination, stand-offs, regular races, and time attacks. Nothing really special here, but it's mixed up enough to keep you from getting bored. You can unlock new tracks and race types by earning fans, but honestly the game isn't all that hard. The AI is kind of all over the place so be prepared for the occasional frustrating race. You pick what kind of car you need based on an average setting like drift type or balanced type, there's also grip type which tend to understeer a bit and aren't so great for drifting.
At least the game looks amazing. The lighting effects are fantastic and the textures look great as well as the cars. The new smoke effects from Intel's new 4th generation CPUs looks great and the game even has a mode for laptops. Honestly the game can look pretty nice even on low-end PCs, but when you turn the graphics settings to max the game shines and looks spectacular. There's a good 10+ hours of gameplay here and the multiplayer is about average. I honestly don't care for racing multiplayer but if you want it you will enjoy it plenty. There's a plethora of cars to choose and the more powerful ones start becoming available later on in the game.
Overall, GRID 2 is a solid fast paced racing game with a great selection of cars to unlock. It looks really good, the cars handle nicely, and there's a variety of tracks and race types. The only sad part is the simulation part of GRID got stripped away for a more approachable arcade like style. This doesn't really hurt the game, but hardcore fans of GRID or TOCA Race Driver may find this a turn off.
The Good: Fantastic graphics, interesting story, solid shooting mechanics, upgrades add depth, lots of blood and gore, funny writing, fun easter eggs
The Bad: Repetitive enemies and environments, powers feel practically useless, weapons take too long to acquire, boss fights are the same, story is disjointed until the end
Shadow Warrior was an FPS underdog in vein of Doom and Wolfenstein. It was full of potty humor, gore, and cursing. While it didn't sell as well as Doom or Duke Nukem, it had a large enough following to get a sequel. Shadow Warrior is a highly entertaining shooter with a decent story and the same funny dialog is in tact.
You play as Lo Wang who is a mercenary working for a Chinese warlord. He hears of a magical ancient sword with a lot of power. Through his trek he runs into demons and has a demon ally named Hoji who helps you through your journey. The story mainly focuses on where these three sword pieces are and what the deal with Hoji is. It's pretty interesting, but nothing fantastic. It's actually pretty disjointed until towards the end. The game is all about action and there's plenty of it, but by the half way mark the game gets really dull.
The game gives you new weapons and things to do very slowly. There are 17 chapters in this game and it feels a bit long winded. You start out with your sword and a revolver which is fine at first. The guns handle very well and the guns are fun to shoot. Your sword is actually more powerful than you think and you will use it often. Slicing enemies into bits is a lot of fun and feels satisfying. While you're killing demons you get scored based on how you killed them and multipliers come into effect. Once you finish a wave you are rated a total of 5 stars, but I could never get 5 stars no matter how hard I tried. I honestly don't even know how the scoring system really works. When you're not fighting demons you can explore old school style and search for secrets. However,
Shadow Warrior has implemented an upgrade and power system. You can use KI Crystals to upgrade your powers such as a shield, shockwave, and push attack. Honestly, I felt these were useless and I never used them. The only useful one was the healing power. Karma points are used to upgrade your skills such as stamina, healing, swordsmanship, and protection. Then you can use the money you find to upgrade weapons.
All this sounds great, but it takes forever to accumulate enough money to upgrade all your weapons. It was pretty annoying realizing that 10 hours later I couldn't upgrade everything despite searching every nook and cranny for money and secrets. That's not the only issue here, The game uses the same 6-7 demons over and over again until you start seeing them in your sleep. Some are hard while some are super easy. They look cool, but after about 3-4 chapters I got tired of seeing them. It doesn't help that it takes so long to acquire all the weapons in the game. The final major issue is the repetitive and boring level design. You have to run around opening doors and flipping switches which gets really boring. It doesn't help that all the levels start looking the same. At least there are fun easter eggs. Arcades are spread throughout the game with Hotline Miami, Serious Sam, and Hard Reset. The Serious Sam one has famous quotes from the game which are funny. There are secret areas with throwbacks to the old game and Lo Wang will comment on this. There's even a fun easter egg in which you kill enough rabbits to get a black rabbit that attacks you with Serious Sam battle music playing.
However, the game is just a lot of fun despite the repetitive nature. The game looks fantastic though with great DirectX 11 visuals and high resolution textures. The effects look great, but I would have liked to see it with varied environments. As it stands, Shadow Warrior is an entertaining weekend play through but nothing more. There's some charm here that makes you want to keep playing. Mainly because the game is balanced just right and the shooting mechanics are solid. After your first play through you won't be visiting this one again.
The Good: Masters mode is exciting and fun, deep customization options, great swinging mechanic, better online interactions, great ball physics
The Bad: Huge technical issues hamper every part of the game, unacceptable load times, ugly dated visuals, fade and draw shots are hard to perfect
Tiger Woods has been the standard golf sim since Jack Nicklaus left the PC scene. Each year doesn't really bring much new, but 14 has a lot of new features to impress new comers or any Tiger fan who hasn't played the game in a few years. The new Masters mode and day/night cycles add a lot to the simulation aspect while new online interactions make things feel more seamless.
Tiger 14 has a pretty deep customization suite for creating a golfer and upgrading all your equipment from balls, pins, and clubs. You won't be disappointed here. The first thing I dug into was the Master mode. Playing as legendary golfers starting in the late 1800's is pretty exciting and fun. You get to use old style clubs and the game has an old school sepia toned grainy camera overlay to make it feel more like the time period. Everyone's even wearing the appropriate attire which is fun. There are two goals to get, one is the Legend Win. You have to score the same score that the golfers did back on that day. You play all the way through Arnold Palmer's day, to 2000 where Tiger won his first tournament. It's very exciting to see all these famous golfers back in their heyday.
Aside from this huge mode is the regular career and online. The career is pretty vast and will take hours to complete. There are plenty of courses as well, but the main part about Tiger is the swinging mechanic. You use the analog stick to swing back and forth (or the Move which wasn't tested upon review). A new feature has been added which is when you do fade and draw shots. You have to swing the stick diagonally which takes getting used to and you can never quite get a perfect swing this way. Depending on your controller's analog stick some people will do better than others. The swinging mechanic with the stick feels great though and has great feedback and responsiveness. Adding night cycles to the game increases the challenge, but honestly any novice golfer can jump in and play this game. It is so streamlined and easy to learn which is a great thing.
The game has replay value because you will want to perfect yourself on courses and the wind variation is random every time you load the course. The difficulty is also tuned just right to where you don't feel the AI is cheating. I was nailing Birdies and a couple of Eagles with ease thanks to the great course overview and various handicap options that can be turned on and off. Things like the putter guideline and grid can be turned on and off for added challenge or ease. Outside of all the gameplay is the graphics. Tiger Woods was actually demonstrated during the PS3 launch to show how powerful the console is. Looking at the series now, it's lacking and looks dated. There are some ugly textures and character models and the animations are wonky and don't look right. The commentary is sparse and not very consistent -- some times it will repeat itself during one course. Thankfully the ball physics feel spot on and the effects sound real.
This sounds like a great recipe for another great Tiger Woods game right? Well, at least on the PS3, there are so many technical bugs that the game isn't any fun to play. If you are using Dolby Digital on your speakers the sound will constantly cut out and the game freezes and glitches all the time. Not to mention the excruciatingly long load times and even the saving is long! I don't think EA will patch this either which is a shame. This is solely why the game is scored so low. I spent most of my time listening to audio cut outs and restarting the game due to freezing. The menus sluggish and they chug and the game just feels like peanut butter shoved in your console. Some people may be patient enough to deal with this, but if you pay $60 for a product you want it to work properly.
At the end of the day Tiger Woods 14 is a solid golf sim and probably the best one out there right now, but on the PS3 the game suffers from severe technical issues that make the game nearly unplayable.
The Good: Fantastic story with believable characters, gigantic open world that feels alive, gun play has finally been fixed and feels great, a lot of customization options, amazing attention to detail
The Bad: Huge frame rate issues, graphics are technically very dated, main story feels a tad short, online component isn't shipped with the game, missions can be overly difficult most of the time, cars still control poorly
Well, here it is folks. Probably one of the most anticipated games of all time. It's breaking records everywhere. It has made over $1 billion already, it was the UK's best selling game of all time, the list goes on. Why is such a "real" game like GTA5 so popular? Usually sequels and series are dead at their fifth iteration, so what makes GTA5 so special? Love and care. Rockstar loves their franchise so much, they have put 5 years into GTA5 to make it what it is which is nearly perfect. There is so much freaking detail in this game I could go on forever describing it all. So let's start with the story.
You play as three characters this time around which is a first for GTA5. Trevor, Michael, and Franklin are your average joes trying to get rich quick. The game starts out differently than any other GTA. You aren't starting out just outside of a car, this time Rockstar got a little cinematic on us. You're in the middle of a bank heist in a small town. You end up fighting your way out and the story fast forwards 10 years. Right from the start you get introduced to Michael, then Franklin, then Trevor later on. Each character is very well fleshed out and you end up getting attached to all of them in the game. Of course the other half of the great characters are people you get your missions from and this doesn't change here. While there aren't as many characters as past games they are more well designed and original. You end up going through the trials and tribulations of these three men as they get caught up in the mafia, street gangs, the government, and millionaires. Basically Michael is trying to make amends with his family on the side while Trevor is trying to find out what he really wants -- Franklin just wants to get out of the hood.
The largest problem with GTA has finally been addressed: the terrible shooting mechanics. GTA IV tried to fix this, but it felt too sticky and too clunky. GTA 5 is finally more refined and feels like a third person shooter should. You can snap into cover, aim with precision, and all that great shooter stuff. You can even change the reticle if you want, honestly GTA 5 gives you more options on a console than any other game I can remember. While we're on combat you can finally customize your guns for the first time in a GTA. Add supressors, scopes, extended mags, flashlights, new paint, etc. It's not Call of Duty deep, but it's a huge step up for GTA. However, the combat is still tough as nails. You will die in a few hits if you aren't careful and I restarted many missions a lot because of how hard the game is.
Secondly, the vehicles still control like you're driving on syrup. You will spin out a lot, and easily lose control. At least the cars look updated and are actually knock offs of real cars. The Banshee looks like the Dodge Viper and there's a car in here that's called the Coil. Figure out what that one's based off of. They look good and you can customize these as well! Yes! It's a lot deeper than you think. There are different levels of upgrades and they make a huge difference on how they perform. Some missions even require upgraded cars. Car wise, the game still shines and doesn't disappoint.
While we're talking about cars and combat they all tie into missions just like previous games. Honestly, GTA 5 feels so polished and refined and is a perfect GTA game. The missions are a huge step up because you get to choose how they play out this time around. There are large heists that you need to perform and you can pick your accomplices and can choose two different routes to go. They are usually sneaking and going through the front guns blazing. It's a lot of fun and you really feel like you earned your cash in the game. During some missions you can switch between the three characters on the fly for an advantage. This adds a whole new layer to combat in GTA. The missions are much more varied than previous games and are just so much fun, honestly I haven't had this much fun in a sandbox game in a long time. You get rated after each mission and there are side objectives to complete for gold stars.
Outside of those story missions are side missions called Strangers and Freaks. You meet weird people that you help out and these characters are both funny and strange. On top of that, you have random encounters where you help people on the fly as you pass them. It really helps bring the world to life. While we're on that subject, GTA 5 is one of the most surreal game worlds ever created. Los Santos is huge and I mean just huge. There are whole mountain ranges, huge areas of the ocean, and San Andreas as well as Los Santos itself to explore. Even the ocean looks so real thanks to the great water physics and under water effects. Scuba diving is a brand new option here, and yes there are under water missions. However, Rockstar took all this to a whole new level when it comes to detail. You can hunt in the mountains, the scenery gradually changes as you move around the world. It's just so awesome it's hard to believe that this is all out of someone's imagination.
Your cell phone for example is an expansion to the one in GTA IV. You can buy stocks and bonds online, buy vehicles to get delivered to your garage, buy boats, planes, and various other things on the phone. You can now order a cab and most messages are done through text and email. It helps bring GTA to the present times and feels that way. The amount of detail in both the characters, world, graphics, and gameplay is just phenomenal. From the turbulence in aircraft to the way boats bounce off waves. GTA 5 has unparalleled detail that is rarely seen in any entertainment medium.
At the end of your first day you won't want to put the controller down. With over 100 missions GTA 5 is full of things to do and places to explore. Michael, Trevor, and Franklin are great characters and everyone will have their favorites. Despite the ultra violence, cursing, and nudity in the game GTA 5 is gritty and raw and should be. Rockstar is one of the only came companies who have the guts to show everyone their vision without being afraid of political backlash. I'm sure GTA 5 will have plenty of that (thankfully Jack Thompson will be absent for this one). GTA 5 is one of the best games I have played in a long time and I can't find much wrong with it. Honestly, it's just typical stuff like frame rate slow down, some ugly textures, the online component was missing at launch, a few bugs and glitches here and there, but other than that the game is almost perfect.
The Good: Fantastic are style, combat is fast paced and flashy, fun boss fights, varied levels
The Bad: Story makes no sense at all, shallow combat, repetitive enemies, short campaign, useless upgrade system, visuals are ugly on a technical level, characters aren't developed at all, the entire game is weird in a bad way
Suda 51 is known for his crazy art style and weird games. He's pretty much the Quintin Tarantino of the video game industry. You may know his other games such as Killer 7, No More Heroes, Lollipop Chainsaw, and Shadows of the Damned. His latest work isn't his best, or his weirdest. Honestly, the game is very short and lacks in every department. Let's start with the story, you play as a hitman named Mondo who works for a hire-to-kill agency and takes on different people. The goal for this is never explained, and honestly, the story makes zero sense. There's no wrap-up, no climax, no real anything. You just run around killing things for people with no real purpose. There's something about a guy named David and he killed Mondo's mom and then something about taking back the moon from him. I can't tell you anymore than that because there isn't anything else, the story could have been interesting but it seriously sucks.
Suda 51 is known for having fun and flashy combat. The combat here is very flashy but very shallow and dull. You just mash square and dodge around a lot to hopefully trigger a slow-mo event where you mash the attack button and can do extra damage. Mondo also has a gun arm called the Musselback. There are 4 different weapons you can unlock through gigolo missions (more on that later) but I honestly never used any of them except the default machine gun attachment. Your arm works off of blood which you gain from killing things and this also fuels your blood drive. Holding R1 and pressing square allows you to instantly kill enemies that aren't immortal or shielded. All of this sounds fun and dandy, and it may look awesome, but there's nothing else to it. Upgrades are bare bones and only let you auto-heal and manual heal while giving you only 5 new attacks which end up being useless. The combat is seriously flawed and simple.
Outside of that there's nothing else to do. The missions are varied and the best part about the game are the boss fights and the visuals. The game has Suda 51's signature art style similar to Killer 7, but it's technically dated like all his other games. The textures are blurry and ugly and it just lacks any technical flair. Other than the main 12 chapter story you can unlock side missions that are timed with various objectives or gigolo missions. These basically are dating mini-games where you have to stare down a woman's body without her noticing. Once your "guts" are full you can offer gifts to win her heart over. Before you cry foul there is a purpose: to unlock the Musselback attachments. However, doing these side missions that you unlock will feel pointless because after you beat the short 5 hour story you won't want to come back. The enemies repeat often, there are very few set pieces in the game, you won't care about the characters, and the story is confusing and non-existent.
Overall, Killer is Dead is Suda 51's weakest game. Is has the sexual spice, the visual flair, and the weirdness, but not in the good way that is has been put to use before. The combat is bland and shallow, the story sucks, the characters are lame, and there's not reason to go back. That's not to say it isn't worth playing though. Only fans of Suda 51 will really get the game's concept or general design and appreciate it from an artistic standpoint, but the average gamer will think it's a load of garbage.
The Good: Amazing visual feat, gun play transitions well from the PS3, fun multiplayer, brutal melee kills, the Valor system and drones are awesome
The Bad: Short campaign, story is lacking, small multiplayer suite, lacks the epicness of the PS3 games, campaign feels very linear and claustrophobic
The PS Vita has been really struggling with great games lately and with the dual analog sticks everyone has been chomping at the bit for a good FPS. Resistance: Burning Skies was decent, but nowhere near the quality of the console games. Along came Black Ops II which could have been an amazing experience, but instead was a literally unfinished game and has been deemed the worst Vita game ever made. Now that Killzone has come along we finally have the great portable FPS experience we have all been wanting. While it's not exactly up to par with the PS3 Killzone games, it's still a great game.
Killzone has never been famous for its story, but the whole universe of Killzone is interesting itself. You play a mercenary working for both the ISA and Helghast -- you basically want the war to go on longer for more money. The story picks up right after Killzone 3, but this isn't a direct sequel to the events between the warring nations. The game also plays a little differently from other Killzone games. It feels a bit faster, yet still has the heavy feeling weapons and gun play fans have grown to love. The game is definitely optimized for portable play and for the Vita. You switch weapons with the touch screen (one secondary and primary) as well as using grenades and your drone. The controls are actually cleverly laid out utilizing the entire system without compromising comfort.
Weapons aren't picked up via enemies this time around -- you get access to a black market where you buy them and equip them. You earn cash by picking up ammo, stealth kills, melee kills, multiple kills, or any other way you can think of. This is a brand new feature to the series and it works well. The only thing about the weapons that I was disappointed about was that they are the same ones we've seen through the entire series and there aren't that many of them. Even so, the campaign levels are very linear and mostly in enclosed areas so you will stick with a shotgun and a sub-machine gun most of the time. Speaking of the campaign, there are only 9 short levels. While they are fun, they aren't anything special and lack the epic set pieces of the console games. However, most people are going to pick this game up for the multiplayer suite.
Mercenary has a brand new Valor system that uses decks of cards. You rank up and earn new cards by doing things in the game -- most will be earned in multiplayer. This is to extend the longevity of the game and to keep you coming back. The online play is a bit more fast paced than the PS3 games and is a lot of fun. This is really feels like a console game in your hands. It's so satisfying to sneak up behind someone and execute a brutal melee kill or start getting a kill streak going. Be warned -- there is a lack of modes and maps here. I hope more are introduced through DLC, but what's here is fun for quick bursts of online shooting action. Another new system introduced are drones. These are weapons that can launch missiles down on enemies, put up shields, make you invisible, or even be used as a mobile auto-turret. This adds a whole new level to the series and is a lot of fun.
The graphics in Mercenary are phenomenal. The best portable graphics to ever grace a handheld device. They look nearly as good as the PS3 games. There is so much detail everywhere it's nearly impossible to imagine how the Vita can render this or have this much power. Thankfully the frame rate keeps up with the action which could have seriously hampered the game. As it stands, Killzone is the best portable FPS game out there, but isn't the best Killzone game. It could have been a lot more with more time, but what we get is a decent package with an entertaining, yet short, campaign and a fun multiplayer mode.