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No GravatarWhen I first began playing BioShock Infinite, I had a tough time getting into it.  Not because the game isn’t interesting.  It pulls you in pretty quickly with its beautiful graphics and fascinating storyline.  I was just mad that the game was vastly different in setting and tone then the original BioShock, which is one of my favorite games of all time.  I wanted BioShock Infinite to be in Rapture or somewhere like Rapture.  I actually stopped playing the game and went back to play the original several times before I finally forced myself to play Infinite.  It was a good thing that I did too.  Infinite is an absolutely amazing game, and I shouldn’t have compared it to the original.  Trying to make a game too much like the original BioShock only ends in mediocre sequels (BioShock 2).  I think that Irrational HAD to pick a different setting in order to have an effective story.  So, after getting over that self-imposed hurdle, I found that Infinite is actually one of my favorite games ever.

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Overview

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter game developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K in 2013 for PS3, XBox360, and PC.  Is it is the second sequel of the much loved original BioShock.  It uses a modified version of Unreal Engine 3 and has also been praised for its graphics, setting, and story.  Despite being a BioShock game, it departs from the Rapture-setting and instead focuses on its own dystopia of Columbia. BioShock: The Collection comes out in September, which is a remastered version for the current generation of all three BioShock games.  For the purpose of this review, I will be concentrating on the PS3 version only.

Story

The original BioShock had an amazingly intricate story that made several play-throughs enjoyable because of all of the little details.  BioShock Infinite steps it up to a completely different level.  The story is absolutely amazing.  It follows Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton and Battle of Wounded Knee vet, who has acquired a massive amount of debt.  To repay this debt, he is hired to rescue, Elizabeth, a woman who has been imprisoned since childhood in a city called Columbia.

Columbia is not a normal city, though.  The place floats in the sky (don’t worry if it sounds ridiculous; it’s very well explained) and is run by the prophet Zachary Comstock, a religious fantastic.  Like the original BioShock, Columbia is a city that has gone wrong, but it also highlights issues such as: racism, religious extremism, socio-economic struggles, American exceptionalism, the corruption of power, and dealing with past mistakes.  As you can see, Infinite is not a one-trick pony when it comes to thematic elements.  I am not even sure what part is better: the story or the setting.  The story is amazing, don’t get me wrong.  Elizabeth is probably one of the best, well-thought out, well-developed female characters ever done in a video game.  However, I also find myself playing Infinite just to explore Columbia (it is really that cool).  I love the early 1900s/steampunk style to it as well.  It’s just overall very well done.  There aren’t many games like it, especially in the first-person shooter style.

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Game Play

If you have been following me for awhile, you know that I’m pretty picky about my first-person shooters.  I’m not really that into most multi-player games, and I hate fps campaign modes that are too short and without substance.  BioShock Infinite, first of all, is worth the price  (I think it may be on PlayStation Plus now, though) because of its length, which is perfect for a fps game.

The game play, however, is also amazingly well-done.  With Infinite, you get a fun, smooth-flowing fps game with a few added elements that push this game up to a 10.  First, there is the use of plasmas…um, I mean vigors, which gives the “BioShock” power.  Then there is also the use of infusions and gear, which give some added elements of game play, such as more health, shields, and salts as well as some special “perks” from the gear.  Second, there is the use of the sky-line hooks and open-environment that make this game incredibly fun to play.  The first time I got on a sky-line, it felt like I was on a freaking roller-coaster.  You can zip around and melee enemies from above, jump on floating air ships, and fire your weapon while swinging around.  Third, you get Elizabeth as a sidekick, who helps out Booker during battles.  The AI for her is absolutely brilliant.  It really is a new way to play an fps.

These added elements make the game so much fun.  The game never felt repetitive.  I never got bored with the game either, especially with all of the fun vigors I got to use.  Overall, I have not seen many single-player fps games out on the market quite like this.

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Graphics

This game highlights the pinnacle of what the PS3 can handle graphics-wise and was pretty much one of the best-looking games for the PS3 (if not the best).  When I got my first glimpse of Columbia, all I could do was go, “WOW!”  After I picked my jaw up off of the floor, I began really enjoy how amazing the setting really is.  Even if you don’t like first-person shooters, the game is worth seeing just for how truly beautiful it looks.

Voice Acting

As you might have known, Troy Baker is my favorite voice actor.  What you might not have known, is that I had no freaking clue who the man was before I played this game (*gasps can be heard from across the Internet*).  Yep, that’s right.  No clue.  But I enjoyed listening to Booker DeWitt so much that decided to look Troy up and the rest is pretty much history.  In seriousness, though, the voice acting is top notch.  From Troy who plays the quiet, soft-spoken but flawed Booker to the very-talented Courtnee Draper, who does Elizabeth’s voice, the actors make the game that much more enjoyable.  Even the Lutece twins are pretty awesome and give some added humor to the game.  By the way, this game is still my favorite Troy Baker game.

Music

I usually do not include a game’s musical score in my reviews, but I decided to add it to this one because the music in Infinite is so great.  Besides having a great score for battles and exploring, you have the added bonus of all sorts of popular songs being done in an early 20th-century style.  There are a lot of Easter-egg tunes to hear, but I don’t want to go into it because I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t played the game yet (you should).

Overall

There really isn’t anything that I can knock this game on, and trust me, if I see something wrong, I will say something.  BioShock Infinite is just an amazing game.  I know this review is very glowing, and I can’t find anything to complain about.  For the most part, the complaints that I have seen about this game are a little unfounded.  Here are some and my response to them:

Complaint: The story is too complicated, especially the ending.

Response: Sorry, it’s not the game’s fault that you can’t figure it out.

Complaint: The game should have been third-person not first-person, since it has a lot of narration from Booker.  You are the character when you inhabit a first-person perspective, hence there should be no narration.

Response: That’s like saying if you read a book that is in first-person narration that YOU are the character.  Not so.  You are just getting it from the first-person perspective.  Even though you control Booker from the first person, you are not Booker. Sorry.

Complaint: It’s not enough like the original BioShock. (This was my original complaint.)

Response: If you want to play the original BioShock, play the original.  If the game was too much like the original, we’d get a mediocre re-hash like BioShock 2.  The game plays tribute enough to the original but is still it’s own game.

Complaint: I didn’t like the hordes of people coming at you in battle.  It felt like filler.

Response: Um, if you don’t like fighting in a first-person shooter game, then you probably shouldn’t be playing these types of games.  Just saying.

Complaint: It’s too gory.

Response: Uh, last time I checked, it was a BioShock game AND a first-person shooter.  Considering that the original had tinge of the horror-genre to it, Infinite holds up to the franchise.  If it’s too gory, may I suggest a game like Little Big Planet, instead?

Complaint: Elizabeth is too much like a damsel in distress.

Response: I think that she takes care of herself just fine, but apparently you must have missed those parts of the game.  Sure she’s trapped at the beginning, but there is a reason she can’t get out herself, and she also takes charge for a lot of the game.  May I suggest that you replay it and pay attention?

I think the biggest issue is that some of these critics want this game to not be a first-person shooter, BioShock game.  I think they are looking for something that they were never going to find and never should find in this game.  I don’t even know what to tell them there.  I enjoyed the heck out of it.  Infinite will be one of those games I will replay many, many times.  In my humble opinion, it is just that good.

No GravatarSometimes there are very special games that will forever hold a place in the heart of gamers. Chrono Trigger is one of those games. It is a game that is often hailed as being one of the best RPGs of all time and, in many cases, can be considered on of the greatest games of all time, period. Here are the reasons why:

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Chrono Trigger is a role-playing game developed by Square (now Square Enix) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The game was created by a team of extremely talented individuals, including Final Fantasy’s creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi. It was published in 1995 with critical success and was the third best-selling game of that year. Chrono Trigger was later ported to the PlayStation in 1999 and then repackaged in 2001 with Final Fantasy IV as “Final Fantasy Chronicles.” With such critical and commercial success, it has been later ported to the mobile platforms of the Nintendo DS, iOS, and Android. It is a revolutionary game that spawned the sequel Chrono Cross and gave a lot of fans some very happy memories.

The game follows Crono, a main character who never speaks during the game, Marle, a princess, and Lucca, Crono’s super-smart friend. During a Millennial Fair for the time period of AD 1000 in their world, Lucca and her father demonstrate a new teleporter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite like it was supposed to and teleports Crono, Marle, and Lucca in time. They bounce around both forward and backward in time, learning about a creature named Lavos that wipes out civilization. The party is then determined to do what they can to save the world through time travel.

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It is a fantastic story, filled with twists and turns. Players end up traveling between seven different eras with their distinct characters, setting, and feel. Along the way, you meet the wonderful characters of Robo, Ayla, Magus, and the best and coolest video game character of all time, Frog. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. Trust me, though. Frog is freaking amazing.

One of the many revolutionary aspects of Chrono Trigger was the possibility of multiple endings. However, there were other advancements including plot-related, character-driven sidequests. These may not seem like a big deal today, but in 1995, that was unheard of.

Though the game play is a fairly standard RPG, there were several new ideas to come forth as well. Done with beautiful two-dimensional graphics (that still look good, by the way), the player can roam around in an overworld typical of RPGs of the time and visit different areas. Each area has things to interact with, whether it be people to talk to, puzzles to solve, or enemies to defeat. One change to the traditional RPG is that Chrono Trigger has random encounters for enemies, some which may be visible and some that will ambush you. Unlike other RPGs at the time as well, the game’s battles take place in the same map area instead of being whisked off to a different screen.

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During fights with enemies, Chrono Trigger uses an active battle approach. Each character can do an action based off of a personal timer that is affected by that character’s stats. Characters can either do a straight attack or use their Techs, which use their magic points. One unique feature for the time was the ability to do combined attacks with characters using the Techs. The characters can double or triple their Tech use to create an even greater effect.

The game play is a lot of fun and allows a player to use many tactics to defeat enemies. Another really cool element that Chrono Trigger officially introduced was the New Game+ feature that allowed players to keep their characters’ stats, techniques, and inventory when playing a new game. This helped players go through the multiple endings easier. Though this idea may have been used in earlier games, from my research, it does look like Chrono Trigger was the first to actually use the term “New Game+.” Pretty awesome, right?

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One of my favorite game elements of Chrono Trigger is actually the soundtrack. It was primarily done by Yasunori Mitsuda, who had some help with the legendary Final Fantasy composer, Nobuo Uematsu. The shear amount of tracks for the game was an amazing feat for the time frame. The music is otherworldly and consists of some amazing songs, one of which is my all-time favorite: Frog’s Theme. Seriously, whenever I do something cool, I start humming it. Yes, the song is THAT epic.

Chrono Trigger took some giant leaps forward for gaming. It helped push some of the gaming elements that we all love so much in modern RPGs, especially Western RPGs. The game will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am planning on making it the first game that my daughter and I play together. It is just THAT amazing.

No GravatarBioShock is a first-person shooter released in 2007 for XBox 360 and PC. It was later ported for PS3 in 2008.  It was developed by Irrational Games (they were calling themselves 2K Boston back in the day) and published by 2K.  The game uses a modified version of the Unreal engine with Havok for the physics side.  It was highly praised for its story, setting, and thematic elements.  It later spawned two sequels: BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite.

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As the player, you take on the character of Jack, a man who survives a plane crash into the middle of the ocean.  Upon swimming to safety, you find a lighthouse.  However, this is more than meets the eye.  After getting into a device called a bathysphere, a type of submersible, you are transported underneath the ocean and are introduced to Rapture, a huge underwater city.

However, there is something completely wrong with Rapture.  Upon arrival, you discover that the once utopian city is now in a state of disarray with roaming “splicers,” creepy little girls called “Little Sisters,” and huge robotic bosses called “Big Daddies.”  I don’t want to get into the story too much because I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I will tell you that the story is top-notch.  To me, the best part of BioShock is the setting.  I could just walk around in Rapture all day and be as happy as can be.  I know it’s a really creepy place, but it’s also a really interesting place, especially since you have to dig around a bit to figure out what went wrong.  I loved that the game was kind of scary, but not so scary that I wanted to stop playing it.

One of the other great things about the story of BioShock was a lot of really good and really interesting thematic elements of the game.  Rapture’s creator, Andrew Ryan, designed the city to be free of government and free of religion (a nod to Ayn Rand’s Objectivism).  However, without some constraint of morality, the city quickly crumbles into chaos after some bio-engineering and experimentation gone really wrong.  It’s a really interesting and engrossing game.  It’s one of my favorite video game stories of all time.

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BioShock is first and foremost a first-person shooter.  It’s a rather good one at that, especially for the time that it came out.  As an FPS, it plays smoothly and adds some interesting game play elements.  It has a typical style of ever-increasingly fun weapons to play with, but it also adds the “bio” element to it by creating the use of plasmids (a type of genetic alteration involving needles–I told you the game is a bit creepy).  With your left hand, you control your plasmids, which can vary from shooting fire, ice, and even bees out of your fingertips.  With your right hand, you control your primary weapon.  This is a really, really fun combination, and it makes for  some interesting game play.  However, it gets annoying switching back and forth between shooting plasmids and shooting your weapon, since you can only have one or the other at a time.  This glaring issue was later fixed in BioShock 2.

Besides the use of plasmids, the game play also adds some role-playing and stealth elements as well.  The player has options for stealth around security, including cameras and auto-turrets.  Collecting money in the game gives the player options for upgrading weapons, buying new plasmids, or gaining additional ammo or health.  You may also collect gene tonics that give you special abilities.  One of the more annoying parts of the game was the ability to hack certain things like cameras and vending machines.  Although this sounds like a great idea, to hack something, you get pushed into this mini-game, similar to Pipe Dream.  The first ten or so times you do it isn’t bad, but it gets annoying after twenty, thirty, or forty times.

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One of the unique game play aspects of BioShock is fairly original concept of “roaming boss battles.”  In order to gain more power, the player must take on Big Daddies in order to get to the Little Sisters.  There are a set amount of Big Daddies in each level that will appear in various places (but sometimes can feel like at random).

The graphics were very good for the time that it came out.  It has still held up well for an older game.  In fact, it has held up much better than games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and even the original Infamous.  Even going back and playing it now, I don’t get headaches from playing a game with crazy old graphics.

One really enjoyable thing about the graphics (and the setting) is how it highlights the amazing Art Deco designs of Rapture.  This is one of the reasons why I will actually play the game just to wander around and explore (I can’t say that for many other games).

I don’t care if the game play is perfect.  I don’t care if the graphics are perfect.  BioShock will always be one of my most favorite games of all time.  It is probably my favorite first-person shooter.  This game is just plain fun.  It has been the most fun that I have had in a game in a long, long time.  It is the reason why I have been so backlogged on so many games: I keep wanting to play this game over and over again.  BioShock made me expect more out of my first-person shooters.  It is a complete must-play, trust me.

No GravatarBorderlands 2 is one of those special games that only comes around every once in awhile.  It’s a blood and guts shooter with some humor (and a bit of satire as well).  It also is one of the best online co-op games to this day.

Although the game has aged a bit, it still holds up very well.  Borderlands 2 is considered an action RPG first person shooter.  It was developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K in 2012 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC/Mac (the game also had a late PlayStation Vita and Linux port).  It is also the sequel to the original Borderlands that came out in 2009.  The game was re-released in 2015 in the Handsome Collection for this current generation of consoles, but for the purposes of this review, I am referring to my play-through on PlayStation 3.

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Just like the original game, Borderlands 2 follows different Vault Hunters on the planet of Pandora.  Another large corporation has taken control of the planet, spear-headed by the charismatic Handsome Jack.  The Vault Hunters have come to seek an even larger Vault on the planet but also end up getting caught up in a lot of issues on Pandora, including tons of side-quests.  Although the plot itself is kind of bland, the dialogue, humor, and splash of satire keep the game interesting.  Overall, the feel and ton of the game is a kind of dark comedy/space western.  It’s an odd combination, but it somehow works.
Borderlands 2 is a game that CAN’T take itself too seriously because the game itself is absurd.  It’s filled with ridiculous characters in a ridiculous places doing ridiculous things.  When playing the game, you will laugh, and you will probably laugh a lot.  It’s just enjoyable wandering around the world of Pandora and meeting the crazy people who live there.  Whether it’s meeting the British-imperialist wannabe, Sir Hammerlock…Or the very much redneck, Scooter….Or Ellie, the very big, but very funny mechanic….Or Tiny Tina, the world’s deadliest 13-year-old (by the way, search for “Tiny Tina” on YouTube and see why she’s a freaking hilarious)….Or my favorite, Butt Stallion, the diamond pony.

One great thing about Borderlands 2 game play, is that the game allows you to play as much as you want offline and immediately join up online and not lose your place in the game, as long as you are hosting.  So I could play for a couple hours by myself, see my friends online, invite them into my game, and continue my adventure with my friends without missing a beat.  Another thing that I love is that you can have your game open and allow online people to pop in and out at their leisure to help you.  Or, you can jump into someone else’s game that is way ahead of yours and help you level-up.  Or, you can have someone help you get through a particularly tough time.  It’s an extremely social game.

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Online holds up to four people of whichever class you prefer.  The classes consist of: Commando, Siren, Gunserker, Assassin, Mechromancer (DLC), and Psycho (DLC).  Let me quickly go through each:

Commando: Turrets!

Siren: Phase-lock/Team Nurse!

Gunserker: Double-trouble guns!

Assassin: Stealth/Snipe!

Mechromancer: SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND! (You get a mech that helps you, and it’s awesome.)

Psycho: High risk, high reward play-style!

Each character is a blast to play.  And you will end up playing through the game, which is pretty long to begin with several times with each class.

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Another big thing about Borderlands in general is the fact that there are more weapons possibilities than a player knows what to do with.  I’ve heard at least 17.75 million combinations because weapons randomly generate based on: your level, how many people in your group, where you found it, what baddie you got it from, what rarity level it is, and so on.  This means that even if you have beaten Borderlands 2 several times on all of the difficulties with ever character, you are ALWAYS looking for the next best weapon.

Though the original Borderlands game was interesting, and I have played a good deal out of it.  But I really didn’t like it, mostly for the fact that the graphics were awful and the online play was hard to connect to.  Now for the graphics, please understand that Borderlands uses cell shading, which gives off a cartoony-look. In the original game, I had a hard time even playing it because it gave me a headache (I call this Final Fantasy VII syndrome–where the graphics are so weird that it hurts you eyeballs/head.).

In Borderlands 2, you still have cell-shading, but IT IS SO MUCH BETTER.  The lines are crisper.  The graphics are much improved, and I can play this game for hours without issue.  Plus, now cell-shading makes sense to me.  This game isn’t about the latest, greatest graphics, but about the humor, satire, and fun of it.  The graphics actually look pretty good, but I have come to understand why the developers choose to use this method.  Also, with the online play, it is pretty easy to connect with your friends or random people.  The original Borderlands was kind of a pain in the you-know-what, but now you can jump from game to game without issue.

So, as you can see, Borderlands 2 is nothing but fun.  I am currently patiently waiting on news for a 3rd.  But in the mean time, happy vault hunting for those who still play!

By Jessica Brister On 29 Mar, 2016 At 05:47 PM | Categorized As Featured, Games You Slept On, PlayStation, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarThe Uncharted series is all about fun and adventure.  Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception does not disappoint.  Whether you are playing it on a last-gen console or as a part of the Uncharted Collection for the current generation, the game delivers exactly what is expected of it.  Though it’s not quite a retro game yet, it’s getting to be a bit older now.  Here is my (Almost) Retro Review of it:

–For the purposes of this review, I played the game on the PlayStation 3.–

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Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is third person adventure game, developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony.  It is a PlayStation 3-only game, which came out in 2011, and has been pretty successful both in critical acclaim, awards, and copies sold.  The game was re-released in the Uncharted Collection for PlayStation 4 on October 7, 2015 with enhanced graphics and more power as it was rebuilt by Bluepoint Games for the current generation.

*Warning: Some Spoilers, but not many.*

I am going to admit that I have not played the first and second Uncharted games, so I’m not going to go into back-story, since I don’t know it.  However, I will say that the story is actually pretty easy to follow, even without knowing much about the first two.

If you didn’t know already, the Uncharted games are adventure games similar in feel to Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider.  Since I really like adventure-stuff, I am probably going to be biased on some of this (just letting you know).  If that genre is not your cup of tea, you can actually stop reading now.  But if you’re an arm-chair adventurer, like me, then you will probably love this game.

The particular plot of Uncharted 3 revolves around Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan attempting to bring Katherine Marlowe, but they end up digging up more than they bargained for.  There are some flashbacks to a young Nate Drake and many locations to explore, including France and Syria, all in hopes of tracking down possible treasure/secrets Sir Francis Drake may have found in his journeys.

This game has a really fun story that definitely has some Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones qualities to it.  There are also some twists and turns.  The pacing was good as well, not too long or too short.  Many of the characters have been developed throughout the series, but I was able to follow along pretty well without playing the first or second.  Overall, it was a lot of fun to play, though the game is very cut-scene heavy.  I am not sure if that is a good thing or not.  Considering adventure games are supposed to be a bit cinematic, I suppose it’s a plus on Uncharted 3’s side.

*End spoilers.*

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Like the other Uncharted games, 3 is also third person.  When I first saw the franchise being advertised, I thought the gameplay would be a rip-off of the Tomb Raider games.  BUT IT’S NOT.  The closest thing I could relate it to would be The Last of Us meets Assassin’s Creed, but even then I don’t know if that’s an apt description, so I’m going to go into the four aspects of gameplay I noticed the most:

1.) Exploring

Tomb Raider (at least the older ones I’ve played) forces the gamer to line up jumps pretty much perfectly to solve jump puzzles.  Uncharted seems to be more lax on this, though I’ve fallen off enough things in this game to say that you can’t push it too much.    Instead, I feel that it focuses more on the fun of exploring but not making the controls and jumps super hard.  This is a big plus.

2.) Puzzle-solving

I didn’t think that the puzzles were overly hard.  Most of them I could figure out by myself without a walkthrough (and I suck at puzzles).  They were fun, but not to the point of being stressful.  There was only one or two that stumped me for a moment, but YouTube quickly solved that problem.

3.) Battles

To me, the gun-battles felt a lot of the Mass Effect franchise, where you employ the use of cover and shoot from there in most cases.  I thought this game took it a step above by also using a really cool hand to hand fighting system that allows you to hit, block, and push in a battle with multiple people around.  I thought it was quite unique and enjoyed it immensely.

4.) Racing

That’s the best description that I could give it.  There are define times in the game where fighting isn’t the purpose; you must run.  And the running involves jumping and dodging and all sorts of fun.  I haven’t quite played a sequence like it, which is why I really liked playing.  It’s high intensity and really cool.

The multiplayer is pretty standard, though it is a bit weird because it is in third person.  It takes some getting used to.  However, it is fairly fun for those who enjoy that type of thing.  Unfortunately, I only had a chance to play it when it was free on PlayStation Plus, which excluded the co-op play.  I do have the game for PlayStation 4 in the Uncharted Collection.  When I get a chance to play it, I will update this review.

For 2011, the graphics were actually pretty darned good.  The overall game play looked good, but the cut scenes also looked really polished.  For a last-gen console game, I thought Naughty Dog did an amazing job.  Yes, I can say that games like The Last of Us (also Naughty Dog) and BioShock Infinite do look better, but those came out two years later.  Uncharted 3 still holds up very well and looks great in the process.  If you are playing it in the Uncharted Collection, the graphics will be a lot more polished.

In conclusion, I have completely fallen in love with this game and will probably be playing it again.  And again.  And again.  Once I get the time, I will be playing it on PS4 in the Uncharted Collection.