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PS3 game reviews

PS3 game reviews

Resistance: Fall of Man 2 - 95%
Release Date: November 4th, 2008
Review Date: September 26th, 2007
Developer: Insomniac
Publisher: SCEA
Platform(s): PS3
Completed: Yes

Resistance fall of man game review

Now this is a sequel! Resistance: Fall of Man 2 picks up where the original game left off—you play as Nathan Hale, an infected soldier battling the Chimera, but this time in the U.S. and Iceland rather than Europe. Your squad, nicknamed the “Sentinels,” is made up of others who are infected with the Chimera virus, but suppress it with regular medicinal injections.

Insomniac really brings the missions alive by tying-in your squad throughout the game, like in an earlier level where you rely upon your counterpart’s instructions on when and where to move in order to avoid drone detection. Battling near familiar places such as the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, and even Michigan Avenue in Chicago help add an authenticity that’s often missing in games. The graphics are considerably sharper than in the original, and the battles you could see in the distance reminded me of Halo 3.

Gameplay is fairly straightforward and feels very natural—never confusing. The controller configuration is intuitive and easy-to-learn, and that’s important since you won’t be able to think about which buttons to press when you’re battling some of the
biggest bosses and enemies in any game I’ve played. Thankfully, battling bosses is just plain fun as the arsenal of weapons you’ll have at your disposal are ultra satisfying. Not only do the weapons pack a whale of a punch with tons of bass, but some of the alternate firing options were a blast (I’m looking at you Magnum and Sniper rifle!).

Enemies are, for the most part, intelligent as they’ll take cover and change positions frequently, and will usually attack in packs. A few of the bigger Chimera have
hugely entertaining (and messy) death sequences that make you smile and pat yourself on the back.

The pacing and scope of Resistance 2 are both right on the money. The plotline gradually pulls you in, and over time your teammates emerge with discernable personalities. The game’s scale is gigantic, and you really do start to feel like you’re part of a greater effort.

So, there must’ve been some negatives, right? Right. Just a few though. For instance, the AI of your teammates is pretty worthless—particularly their aiming and effectiveness (or lack thereof) in taking down enemies. Also, I could’ve done without the seemingly incessant triangular save icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. Oh, and weapons strewn about the world blink repeatedly—a mildly annoying “Hey—pick me up!” type notification. Lastly, the final boss fight was really,
really anticlimactic.

Resitance 2’s online multiplayer can be overwhelming at times—up to 60 players in one match! I played some deathmatch and, while it was fun and I liked the detailed maps, it’s just missing that magical ingredient that games like Halo and Gears of War somehow figured out. Another trend I noticed is that players usually throw down a shield (think Halo bubble shield) as soon as they come across another player, then hide behind it and shoot—and repeat. It might be smart strategically, but it’s pretty lame.

Bottom-line: R:FoM 2 hooked me. The level of polish you observe as you weave through the finely detailed missions is
definitely impressive. At about 12 hours to complete, it’s fairly short but sweet—it never feels drawn out, and there are no “filler” levels. Sure, the final boss fight is really weak, but the ending makes up for it! This is what a sequel should be!

inFAMOUS - 73%
Release Date: March 6th, 2007
Review Date: August 19th, 2007
Developer: Sucker Punch
Publisher: SCEA
Platform(s): PS3
Completed: No

Infamous game review

Most game review publications eagerly lathered on the adulation for inFAMOUS, and I’m just not sure why.  The plot begins as a gigantic bomb explodes in Empire City, leveling the surrounding structures.  In the middle of the blast crater stands your game character, Cole, the bike messenger extraordinaire who now has electrical superpowers, and no idea why.  Ironically, the chaos that ensues helps you slowly make sense of the ordeal.

The game world itself is made up of three islands, each containing a different section of the city.  The downtown environments are noticeably grayscale in nature, and the cities have an overall smoggy appearance. I was surprised at how jagged some of the graphics were, almost as if the developers decided against anti-aliasing features.  There were also some pretty noticeable clipping issues—I recall two vividly: running straight through a chain-link fence, and opening a refrigerator only to have the door pass right through my character’s body. Considering the strides other game developers are making graphically (especially on the PS3), it just took me by surprise. Regardless, the animations are really fluid, and the frequent comic book-esque cutscenes are top quality.  

Enemies are your standard GTA-thug fare, except with a mild supernatural aura.  They usually attack in groups, and can be overwhelming at times. Fortunately it’s fairly easy to escape the onslaught given your character’s nimble ability to climb virtually any building in short time, not to mention the option of sliding across suspended power lines to the next rooftop. While you can latch onto just about any climbable object with ease, it also becomes frustrating when you can’t walk of ledges (you have to jump). 

Weapons are relegated to whatever your body conjures, all electrical in nature, ranging from jolts and shockwaves, to amped-up grenades. The missions, both story-based and side, are extremely varied and have you traversing just about every square inch of the terrain (and sub-terrain).  It all feels very open-ended. 

What sets inFAMOUS apart are the ethical and moral decisions that must be made by the game player. For example, are you going to protect innocent bystanders, or destroy them? Are you going to share scarce food shipments with the hungry denizens of Empire City, or are you going to horde it for yourself?  These decisions affect the game’s plotline, and even your character’s appearance!  You are updated at the end of each mission with how good, or evil, you are becoming. Sure it’s been done before, but it definitely adds a stylish feature to the game. 

Bottom-line: Maybe it was over-hyped, but I wasn’t impressed with inFAMOUS. While the ethical ramifications were an interesting additive, and the plot was entertaining, it wasn’t enough to keep me engaged in what I would call a stripped-down version of GTA, with average graphics and unmistakable clipping issues. I thought the electrical weaponry (although unique) was gimmicky, and it made me realize how much I enjoy having a bass-busting gun in my hand—change, for the sake of change, isn’t always a good thing.  Most game review sites thought this game was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but then again, their reviewers are afraid of upsetting Sony, a major advertiser. Remember the Eidos fiasco?

Resistance: Fall of Man - 92%
Release Date: November 14th, 2006
Review Date: December 16th, 2006
Developer: Insomniac
Publisher: SCEA
Platform(s): PS3
Completed: Yes

Resistance fall of man game review

Resistance: Fall of Man was the saving grace of a fairly lackluster PS3 launch lineup—it offered some prominence to an otherwise undistinguished offering. The narrative takes place in an alternate reality—it is 1946 and a hostile species known simply as the Chimera have emerged from Czarist Russia where scientific experimentation has gone awry. The Chimera have proliferated quickly by systematically infecting humans with a hazardous virus that transforms people into Chimera. It is your job, as stoic American soldier Nathan Hale, to help defend England—the last bastion of hope for Europe—against the violent and seemingly inevitable Chimera offensive.

Resistance has sharp graphics, very detailed environments, and an expansive array of both enemies and weapons. Some of the best missions take place in Chimera-controlled areas, including a gruesome laboratory, and do an excellent job of accentuating the aura of gloom. Incidentally, the glass effects are the best I have ever seen.

The Chimera you encounter range from attention-grabbing to flat-out jarring. The Menials, if given the opportunity to lunge at close-range, will latch onto you and begin frenzied biting with their revolting mouths—your only recourse is to shake the sixaxis controller to free yourself. As if that were not disturbing enough, the long-limbed Greyjacks will spot you from a distance, and begin running ackwardly at full-speed towards you. This works to create a tense atmosphere, replete with nerve-wracking moments. The Chimera are exceptionally intelligent, finely detailed, and programmed distinctly—they each have their own unique tendencies.

The majority of available weapons are standard fare, or at least derivatives of what you have seen before, but what sets them apart are the alternate firing modes. Is there a reason no one has thought of giving players the option of firing one, or both, barrels of a shotgun? The developers at Insomniac did, and I found it tremendously useful. In fact, you can unlock additional weapons by completing the game, including a flame-thrower. As expected, you will pilot various vehicles during battle, including a jeep that has more than a passing resemblance to Halo’s Warthog. The sound in Resistance is top notch—everything from the Chimera grunts and hisses to the thunderous automatic weapons, and everything in between.

Authentic-sounding radios intermittently transmit worthless, yet interesting information including conversations about you—dubbed “grayskin”—and the progress you have recently made. Paper intelligence reports are sporadically located throughout the game, and while some are indeed helpful (explaining the use of a new weapon, for example), others are simply thought-provoking. This includes limited information on a secret third faction named the “Cloven.” They apparently regard both the Chimera and humans as enemies, feed on the dead, and even speak Russian. Nothing else is mentioned, or shown, of the Cloven. While some boss battles can be more than a little difficult, the overall game is never excessively challenging. I finished Resistance in approximately 14 hours, which made for several long nights (and very early mornings) of enjoyment.

The multiplayer matches are frantic, as up to 40 (yes, forty) players can battle simultaneously as either a Chimera or a human, each with different advantages. Humans can run quickly and have radar that points out enemies, but Chimera can see through walls and can enter into a short-term frenzy that makes them faster and more powerful. I think I would spend more time playing this game online if Sony had made voice communication available. Skill points can be earned by completing a variety of different feats in both single and multiplayer campaigns, along the lines of 360 achievements.

Bottom-line: Resistance: Fall of Man is a superbly designed game that almost single-handedly justifies the purchase a PS3. While there is nothing overtly unique about this game, what makes it special is that Insomniac did ordinary things extraordinarily well. I even found myself intrigued by the plot—when was the last time that happened in a FPS?

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - 91%
Release Date: March 20th, 2007
Review Date: May 3rd, 2007
Developer: 2K Games
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Completed: Yes

Elder scrolls game review

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a colossal game that offers RPG fans an adventure that could easily span 100 hours. In short, your primary mission is to prevent Tamriel from being overtaken by the evil forces of Oblivion. You will work closely with Martin Septim—the illegitimate son of the deceased emperor, and rightful heir to the throne. In essence, he sends you on missions to retrieve different items and artifacts, which are ultimately used in a strategy to undermine the seemingly imminent invasion.

I found Martin to be a very charismatic character, which seems rare in games these days. I had thought his voice sounded an awful lot like the British actor who played Alec Trevelyan in GoldenEye, and sure enough, I later found out it is him (Sean Bean). The graphics are very well done—everything from the trees to the castles—and look mildly sharper than the 360 version (yes, I own both). The environments are varied, from snowy mountains to densely wooden forests to ports of call and underground dungeons—this game has it all. The weather is dynamic, so you may experience a thunderstorm in one city, but sunny skies in another. While completing the main quest is lengthy in and of itself, the bulk of the gameplay resides in optional side quests.

Throughout your travels, you will have the opportunity to join different guilds—thieves, murderers, fighters, mages—they all have their own groups. This will lead to many side missions, and really adds to the overall flavor of the game. For example, after using my sword on an innocent victim, I was visited by a ranking member of the Dark Brotherhood while I slept, inviting me to accept an assassination assignment. Even civilians will ask you to embark upon a wide array of missions. One of my favorite activities was fighting in the arena—gladiator style. Reactive crowds, tough battles, and an excited announcer all work together to bring life to an otherwise ordinary event.

You choose a character type, with corresponding attributes, at the beginning of the game. As you gain relevant experience, you will be able to level-up, and add power to whichever traits you would like to emphasize. As you level-up, enemies will become more powerful as well, so the game does not necessarily become easier. I chose to be a Nord Archer, which I later regretted because it’s just not as exciting as I had anticipated.

The sounds in Oblivion are top notch—everything from a beautiful musical score, to clashing swords, to the sounds of frogs and crickets at night. Often times I would just wander the wilderness looking for unmapped towns, and depending on what part of Tamriel I was in, hunt for bears, wild boars, wolves, and deer along the way. This is how I found Fort Nomore, and battled my first Troll. The characters within Oblivion are not only unique with defined personalities (no cookie-cutter townsfolk here), but the voice-acting is extremely well done. The controls are intuitive, but it may take a few minutes to get used to navigating the menu screen (you will spend a lot of time using it). There exists an autosave feature, but as a corollary you can save as often as you like.

As far as gripes, it’s tough to criticize such an impressive game. But, here goes. The way objects appear and disappear in the distance as you move was distracting to me, as was the fact that characters just appear and disappear through doors. Regardless, Oblivion is a programming feat. But, whoever designed those mini-Triceratops creatures (apparently called clanfears) should be horse-whipped. It took me approximately 20-25 hours to complete the game, and I did not spend much time on side missions. In fact, I never even reached level ten (some of the quests you cannot even start until you reach level ten) and neglected to visit several of the major cities.

Bottom-line: If you are a fan of RPG games, you should be driving to the store right now to buy Oblivion—not reading this review. If not, it’s certainly worth renting just in case it draws you in. There is just so much to do in the game, to suit anyone’s proclivities, that it’s truly difficult to cover everything in one short review. Heck, you can even become a vampire. A truly diverse world, inhabited by interesting characters, full of things to discover, makes Oblivion one of the best RPGs ever.

Motorstorm - 71%
Release Date: March 6th, 2007
Review Date: August 19th, 2007
Developer: Evolution Studios
Publisher: SCEA
Platform(s): PS3
Completed: No

Motorstorm game review

Game developers often times make boneheaded decisions that, in effect, undermine the game’s overall potential. Motorstorm, while gorgeous, just does not deliver the fun you would expect. The opening sequence is definitely impressive, but it contains some real video footage—which I’m sure some gamers mistakenly believe is rendered. On the positive side, the giant desert tracks are really sharp—the vehicles even show damage, get dirty, and will explode (in slow motion) if you push the engine temperature limits or collide at a high rate of speed. The selection of vehicles is fairly large, including dirt bikes, big rigs, buggies, mudpluggers, ATVs, and rally cars, all of which have their own distinct control characteristics.

The racing action can get frenzied, but the frame rates never hiccup. If you’re on a dirt bike, you can even punch other drivers—nice! The overall physics are well done and feel fairly natural—momentum will prevent you from simply holding down the turbo button (which is initially tempting). If you’re driving directly behind a vehicle, it will kick dirt onto your screen—very cool effect! I’m easily amused I guess. The racing sounds are appropriately powerful, which includes roaring engines, sliding tires, and a turbo that BOOMS—heck, you can even beep the horn. The soundtrack is chalked full of real songs by artists such as Slipknot, Pendulum, Reverend Horton Heat, and yes, even Nirvana.

You’re probably wondering—what’s not to like about this game? Well, keep reading. There are only eight tracks, and they are ALL desert tracks. Yes, there are multiple paths to take in each track, but how about a little variety? You have the option of using the sixaxis motion-sensing capabilities to steer, but don’t bother, because the responsiveness sucks. I found myself wondering, “How did this garbage pass QA?” The load times are annoyingly long, and you are forced to unlock tracks and vehicles before you can use them. While this may seem fine to some, I found it frustrating. There are all types of vehicles in each race, so why am I relegated to the dirt bike? The most egregious offense: there is no split-screen mode. You can play online against a gamer in another state, but not in the same room with a friend. This game’s replayability factor would have skyrocketed if the developers had the foresight to include this mode.

Bottom-line: The production values are very high, but based solely on the fun factor, Motorstorm comes up short. It’s sort of like a luxury vehicle that doesn’t have A/C— it looks good, but it’s just not going to keep you coming back for more.