March 06, 2011

Venetica: This game is best described as Gothic/Risen lite. It reminds me very heavily of PS2 action/adventure game Drakan: The Ancient Gates; buggy but brilliantly unique in how it works and the world it showcases. It works the same in how it has a PCRPG-like quest logs where you can undertake smaller missions for martial and exp. gain. Combat is clever, and thereís always something to do. Proper honest Boss fights, too!

Shining Force II: I play a Shining Force or a Phantasy Star every year or so, and got it out of th way early this time around. Iíll probably get around to actually reviewing it this time around, but the game itself simply never gets old.

Alpha Protocol: Iíve come out of Saudi Arabia and am whacking through my missions in Russia. After a bumpy start where I discarded my SMGs forever and adopted a pistol/assault rifle set up with a focus on stealth, Iíve been loving the game. Started with the rookie set-up, so had to bumble my way through until I could bump up some stats, but am having a blast. My only hang up is that the dialogue and choice system is so good, Iím forver second guessing on whoever Iíve missed something big or messed up unlocking something later on.

Alan Wake: Thank God for Alan Wake. Itís exactly what the horror genre needed and a spiritual successor to the original aims of Silent Hill before they decided to try and explain everything and anything that went on. Not a huge ways in, but really digging how the game thrives on making you completely uncertain what might happen next and leaving you no clue why it might be.

Hydrophobia: Sometimes brilliant, sometimes dodgy, itís still such a crazy improvement on the game that first hit XBLA a year or so ago, they might as well rename it. The recent update dropped the [price of the game by half, fixed more or less every major complaint levied against it, and left a decent survival horror-like game were your biggest fear is the environment

Frogs vs. Stalks: better than youíd think, but not by much. Pretty clever puzzle game that lives on a razorís edge of unpredictability and encroaching unfairness.

Thunder Force II: Bloody awful overhead sections completely overwrite the sometimes genre-perfect scrolling ones. Review incoming shortly.

Most recent blog posts from Gary Hartley...

Masters Masters - March 06, 2011 (07:21 AM)
You're right on the money re TFII. But I hope Alan Wake doesn't become tiresome for you as it did for me. =\
darketernal darketernal - March 06, 2011 (07:51 AM)
I like how EmP likes games that are almost universally hated by players and reviewers.
EmP EmP - March 06, 2011 (07:57 AM)
Pretty sure Shining Force 2 is loved by any and all.

Just as sure everyone hated Thunder Force 2.
pickhut pickhut - March 06, 2011 (08:25 AM)
Gathering pictures for TF2 was painful because of those overhead segments.
overdrive overdrive - March 06, 2011 (10:22 AM)
The only things worth not hating in TF 2 were the last couple side-scrolling stages. They were those cool, tense shooter levels that we all love to see in these games. The overhead stuff made it unbearable to get that far, though, and the first couple side-scrollers were merely okay, but not particularly fun.
Suskie Suskie - March 06, 2011 (10:24 AM)
Don't listen to Masters. Alan Wake only gets more awesome as it goes.

I should also mention that Alpha Protocol is ludicrously replayable for the reason you mention: The story is so flexible that it's impossible to see everything in one run, or even two, for that matter. It's also fun to experiment with different approaches to character building. My first run was somewhat combat-centric (hence why I wasn't initially blown away with the game, since the core combat ain't so hot), but the most fun I had with Alpha Protocol was when I dumped all of my skill points into stealth, pistols and CQ.
jerec jerec - March 06, 2011 (01:55 PM)
I'm a few chapters into Alan Wake. Keep meaning to go back to it. I just find it really tense and stressful. Fun, but it's definitely not a game I want to play to relax. I have to be in the right mood for it.

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