Brink Video Game Review

Brink was a highly anticipated FPS that was going to inject the gaming market with a breath of fresh air, but when it came out that breath wound up smelling a bit foul. So foul in fact that a few months after the game had come out the price for a used copy dirt cheap. I was able to get my hands on a copy  awhile ago, so let's see why this game's lukewarm reception may have led to a cool new IP, turning into just another in a sea of mediocre FPS titles. 

Sightplay - Brink's visual presentation comes off as a rushed effort. One that's good, but if given more time to cook it could have been great. I find the peculiar dimensions that certain head and body shapes have to be really amusing, and the novelty never wears off. The amount of fun I had  customizing my characters was really high, playing the game wasn't even as fun as this (not a good sign), and having numerous different options felt more fulfilling than any myriad of sliders could. Do we really need control over the precise size of lips, or the exact angle and size of an eyebrow ridge? Brink does a better job of customization by abandoning sliders (there are still a few if you look for them) in lieu of having a seriously diverse amount of clothing and accessory options for each character. In that regards the visuals are top tier, where it falls apart is in the level design. Beyond being boring and labyrinthine at times, they're just plain boring. The same generic advertisements and posters littered throughout the levels lack any humor or wit. The actual architechture of the developed reigons are superb and everything looks futuristic, from a distance. Up close, however, the rough edges start to reveal themselves, and the completely underwhelming grenade explosions are something you simply can't unsee. 

Soundplay - The sound of the many different guns are wonderfully diverse, but only when you have the ability to test out each one in a quiet place. Amidst the chaos of battle, the gun sounds all blur together in an echo of muzzle flares that sound like one gun. Voice acting is decent in this game, and there's something about the way the English dialogue is spoken in various accents that makes it fun to hear. Unfortunately there aren't any solid characters to attribute a voice to. There are cutscenes of rebels sharing a last moment before heading into their certain deaths, and although the words sound sincere, they don't have any real impact because we know nothing about the people saying them! Is it his first day on the job, last day before retirement, third Tuesday after the day before comic book day? Something, anything!? Also there's music, but there doesn't feel to be anything too worthy of noting in that department sadly.
Look familiar?

Gameplay - As I mentioned before the aesthetics of this game are really nice. As levels to run, climb, and shoot through they simply aren't fun or enticing, and really lend themselves to being exploited. When playing online, certain weapon loadouts, classes, and body types can dominate in stages without much resistance, forcing players to adopt similar tactics to be able to compete, which in turn robs the game of a truer sense of customization. Since smaller body frames are faster and can use parkour, heavier frames sacrifice this ability so they can recieve more damage before respawning (an overwhelming weakness in my opnion). The concept of putting parkour style movement into an FPS was a nice touch, and most of the time you can get to where you're trying to get pretty seemlessly. It's the moments where you're character accidentally climbs straight into a deadend, or forgets to climb and faceplants into a wall, leaving you a sitting duck for the opposition that will make you curse the platforming elements. Still it works more often than it doesn't. 

There are a gratifying amount of weapons and modifications that really allow you to have the setup you're craving. Unfortunately the four seperate classes all feel like the same class. The only notable change is a class sensitive button, but outside of certain classes being forced into maps (in order to capture/disable objectives) they just don't feel like they play differently at all. Also for the single player campaign, the squad A.I. will be the current shining example for just how badly computer controlled squad mates can conduct themselves (in my opinion anyway). You actually have to make up for their inability to perform the most basic of objectives, and their obsession with non-critical checkpoints is positively criminal. There are two factions to play as, and their individual story missions are comprised of the exact same levels in reverse order. I don't want to call this lazy, because rushed seems like a more apt term. Had this title more time to cook they might have been able to playtest it more and perhaps they'd have caught a lot of these fixable issues. Lastly, major fun reduction to be found in Brinks amazingly long, and frequent, escort missions.

Replay - The online leveling system is fun, and to be honest, the most fun I had in this game was unlocking new articles of clothing and trying them on. Playing dress-up-the-badass, was more fun than play-as-the-badass, in this case. New weapons and perks are always nice to receive, but the only redeeming value this game offers (other than how cheap the price of the game is now) is the character customization. The rest unfortunately, seems like another example of great design, with poor execution.

Score - 2 out of 5. This will be one of those games that's really hard to recommend to anyone, and I'm assuming a cult following will stay devoted to Brink if any sequels are made. There are probably better FPS titles out there you should be playing, or a great retro title you could relive, before having to play this game (at all [or anymore than you already have]). The customization is certainly something worth tinkering with, and it should certainly be regarded as the new standard for how character customization is handled for games like this. 

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron Review

Video Game Review - El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron 

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron has got to be one of the most titularly confusing, and utterly disappointing games of 2011. I had sincerely high hopes for this game before its release because it seemed to be attempting something daring and unique in today's gaming climate. However the game fails to deliver a satisfying adventure and gripping gameplay, to match its stunning visuals and unique design.

Sightplay - This is the best part of this game. The unique art style is positively captivating and the architechture feels like something truly divine. The interpretation of angels and devils battling each other in a heavenly realm (or hell [or limbo]) is something to experience. The use of raw colors gives backgrounds a degree of abstraction that has proven quite affective in drawing emotion out of me while playing. When I compare it to other games brimming with realisticly textured scenery. Perhaps it's my weakness for cel-shading, but something about the bright colors lends a timeless look. It's what makes Jet Set Radio or Wind Waker still look amazing today. It's unfortunate that the rest of this game doesn't live up to the spectacular and daring visual design.    

Soundplay - The voice acting in this game is fairly decent, but the few characters involved will soon grow boring and familiar. The sounds of combat are passable and feel approriate, but sadly just aren't memorable at all. I hate to sound like a broken record but the soundtrack was also forgettable. Not awful mind you, and while you're playing it all seems very cohesive and matches together quite well, just not that great. However after the game is over, rather quickly at that, none of the music really sticks with you. Perhaps it's the fact that the music seems too conventional. Orchestral arrangements for a divine adventure seems almost too expected. 

Gameplay - This is where the game completlely falls on its angelic face, with all the impact of a fall from the very heavens themselves. The game is an incredibly simplistic hack and slash with bits of platforming thrown in as well. It seems as though the developers were going for a streamlined approach, but the whole affair comes off as tedious. Even for a game that is about six hours long, you've pretty much played through it all by the half way point. There are only three weapons to use in the game and obviously one of them is overpowered, rendering the other two useless (unless a boss fight forces you to use one in order to finish it off). Perhaps it's the masochist in me but this game could have definitely benefitted from a more action packed approach to gameplay, a la Bayonetta or Devil May Cry. The increase in difficulty would have been greatly appreciated, as I felt like I beat this game half asleep. The 2D platforming sections were a bold way to incorporate some retro segments into the game, but were beyond dull. 

Replay - Although I'm reviewing this game late, and the price for this game has gone down substantially, I'm still criticizing this game as if it were full price. And for the full asking price of $60, this game was positively not worth it. It could have been far more successful as a $20 downloadable title, because it feels like that's the amount of content you're getting. The story, although appealing and mystical at first, becomes little more than fun visuals surrounding a dull game. There isn't much by way of replay value at all either. There are six collectible items that, if gathered, provide you with an invulnerable armor to equip making the hardest difficulty an absolute breeze. 

Score - 1 out of 5. This game is the epitome of a rental. It's something you must experience, but it might just be as fulfilling if you saw all the cutscenes online instead of having to button mash you're way through the brief game. El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron was a game I was hoping would help inject some new values into the gaming industry, but unfortunately it fails to deliver.

Heppy Valentimes Day

And so another Valentimes day comes and goes, like so many colored blocks paired into three's and then disappearing into a nameless void. Hopefully it wasn't too bleak for some of you out there without anyone courting for your affections. The rest of you, with any luck, have secured someone to share love with and are enjoying another evening of passionate, if mildly disappointing, consensual sexual congress. 
So from me: Have another Heppy Valentimes Day. 
I leave you with this wonderful quote I found on VGcats, regarding the very definition of Love.

ᶘᵒᴥᵒ ᶅ  Lolo and Lola  ᶘ ᵒᴥᵒᶅ   

"Definition: 'Love' is making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope. Statement: This definition, I am told, is subject to interpretation. Obviously, love is a matter of odds. Not many meatbags could make such a shot, and fewer would derive love from it. Yet for me, love is knowing your target, putting them in your targeting reticle, and together, achieving a singular purpose, against statistically long odds."
 -VGcats <3

Watchmen 2: The Search for Curly's Gold

I recently caught wind of the fact that DC is working on releasing a sequel to the Watchmen. This is pretty bizarre news as it always felt like one of those classic works of comic book history that never needed a sequel. Even though it seems that the stories being created are mostly prequels, with very talented writers making individual story arcs for each of the Watchmen, it still feels like some kind of nerd blasphemy. If I'm not mistaken the whole series should be around thirty six issues, with a six issue story here, and four issue story there, and the like. 

Some people think of the Watchmen as holy ground to never be tread on again, lest one of the perfectly placed blades of grass be shoved out of order. Other people, including some of the people working on the comic, think that this is exactly what comics books are about. Exploring fascinating characters in extraordinary worlds in an ongoing series of events. 

Personally, I don't plan on paying for these comics right out of the gate, but I might wait for whole story arcs to be finished so I can read the entirety of them at my leisure. I mean, its the Watchmen for corn's sake! How could I not want more? But therein lies the rub, because DC knows there is a legion of rabid fans who will devour these comics as soon as they are printed. I wouldn't be surprised to see issues getting marked up by comic book vendors. Its hard to blame them for wanting to make money while struggling to maintain a dying industry, but are the publishers to blame for releasing a sequel I don't feel many people were asking for?  The Last Angry Geek will no doubt be reviewing these comics on his web show, but since he goes into spoiler territory it may behoove me to skip to the end of his reviews for the star ratings. Odds are the first issue should be released sometime this summer. Fingers crossed.