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Video Game Review: Until Dawn (2015, PS4 exclusive) HORRORATHON 3


I love when people ask me about Until Dawn, a game I spent the majority of the year hyped about. They ask me “What’s it about? Can you describe it?” And I respond: “It’s HORROR MOVIE:THE GAME.” They retort: “Like which?” I say “Yes.”

Simply put, UNTIL DAWN is a variation on the point ‘n click/QTE cinematic experience style games popularized by Quantic Dream, especially HEAVY RAIN. You play as an assorted cast of characters, stuck in a remote cabin in wintry Canada, who must work together if they want to survive… UNTIL DAWN.

One of the game’s strongest aspects is its superb mocap work. In particular, Hayden Panettiere’s Sam, Rami Malek’s Josh, and Peter Stormare’s enigmatic Doctor Hill.

When you stop playing, you get a good look at the expression of your player character. Here, Sam's a little bit freaked.
When you stop playing without pausing, you get a good look at the expression of your player character. Here, Sam’s a little bit freaked.

The game also has some great looking environments and references to many iconic works of horror. Evil Dead is an obvious one, cabin in the woods and all. To assist a player in having the most tense experience possible, there are several Silent Hill: Shattered Memories-esque psychoanalysis segments that probe you to figure out which characters you would be most vulnerable to seeing bad things happen to, as well as inserting some jump scares and such that will leave you unnerved. I’m looking at you, random spider on the security camera!

Mike explores a desolate sub-basement.
Mike explores a desolate sub-basement.

As much as I want to gush about this game, it does have some flaws. Some characters seem intentionally under-written so as to make it so you are less eager to ensure they make it to the end. Others are plot-proof until the very final level, where it all comes down to how steady your hands are at holding the controller absolutely still while it vibrates. Mine, for the record, are not.  I still have not gotten the perfect ending trophy because of that fact.

That being said, this game has plenty of replayability. It’s fairly short, having my first playthrough last about 10 hours-ish. I highly recommend just going into it and having fun the first time you go through, no guides or walkthroughs, especially if you love the horror genre. I consider myself a bit of an afficianado, and I still lost a few of my favorite characters by the end.

Since it’s been about a month or so since release, price has dropped, and honestly, I’d say if you can get it for 45 dollars or so, you’re getting your money’s worth.

8 out of 10 unfound corpses.

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Game Review: Godzilla: The Game (PS4)

Godzilla is a difficult game to talk about objectively, and pretty difficult to review. I’ve been a fan of Godzilla since I was a kid. I first saw the Hanna Barbara Godzilla Power Hour cartoon, but my interest really took off after seeing the 1998 movie (which admittedly is still a guilty pleasure movie for me). I’ve seen all the movies, watched the cartoons, and heck, I still even have a Godzilla ’98 lunchbox that I got in the first grade. Although my interest in giant monsters waned a bit as I got older, the 2014 film reignited my passion for the big G and his foes, and I now own every film on DVD/Blu-Ray.

So why am I telling you about this? Because how passionate about Godzilla you are really determines how much enjoyment you will get out of this game. This is not Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters, a game even non-Godzilla fans can just pick up and enjoy. I will tell you right now, if you aren’t huge into Godzilla, if you’re not the type who appreciates the awful b-movie dialogue, or the way the character models actually move and look like rubber suits stomping around in miniature cities, this is not the game for you.

Gameplay:

Godzilla’s main mode, “God of Destruction Mode” is an arcade style game, where your goal is to destroy as many buildings as possible, as well as G-Energy generators, in order to absorb their G-energy and grow Godzilla (or any of the other kaiju you’ve unlocked) to the largest size you can. The more buildings you destroy within a certain time raises your multiplier, earning you more G-Energy and growth for every building destroyed. The campaign has a mission structure similar to Star Fox, with multiple branching paths varying in difficulty. The more difficult paths have generators that must be destroyed within a certain time limit, and often throw more, and larger, monsters at you. This mode takes about one hour to beat on one playthrough, but will take longer if you want to replay to play every level and find all four “research points” in each stage. Doing so will unlock the last few stages, but only if your Kaiju has reached over 100 meters in size. If you choose a “Defender” monster such as Mothra or Kiryu, your objective will actually revolve around defending generators and buildings from kaiju. You must defeat the monster before it destroys the generators. The less it destroys, the higher your score and power will rise.

godzilla2Another mode is the “King of the Monsters” mode, which is simply stage after stage of fighting CPU-controlled monsters. You select a monster to play as, and the monsters you face in battle will progressively be larger and stronger.

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Unlockables:

Godzilla features a good amount of unlockables, most of which are new kaiju to play as, as well as abilities and moves for them. Defeating certain monsters in battle will yield parts or cells that can be used to upgrade certain abilities for certain monsters in Evolution Mode, such as charge time for your energy attacks, or even new attack combos. Different upgrades require different monster parts, which are obtained by playing “God of Destruction” or “King of the Monsters”.

Other unlockables include figures and settings for Diorama Mode. The stages are unlocked by destroying 100% of a stage in “God of Destruction” mode, and figures of monsters in various poses are unlocked by spending parts in Evolution Mode. You can place your figures in these dioramas and take photos of them.

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Online Play:

The only form of multiplayer is online play, where three kaiju face off in a free-for-all monster battle. Unfortunately, because the game wasn’t exactly designed to be a fighting game, the combat feels shallow and your success pretty much depends on how much you’ve upgraded your character in Evolution Mode.

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Fanservice:

This is where this game really shines. You can clearly tell the developers are very passionate about the franchise and keeping everything as accurate as possible. The characters move and control like men in rubber suits. You can even see the seams on King Ghidorah’s neck! MechaGodzilla has his spinning head shield! Godzilla 1964 has the silly looking googly eyes! The short intro cutscenes where the monsters appear are taken directly from their first appearances in their respective films! THE GODZILLA DANCE FROM INVASION OF THE ASTRO MONSTER IS AN UNLOCKABLE ATTACK! Every monster has movie-accurate attacks, beam effects, and roars. Many of the game’s music tracks are taken from movies as well. The environments even look like miniature buildings, and spark as they are destroyed in the same fashion as they do in the films. The dialogue even has the same cheesy style of delivery as many of the dub actors from the films do. Everything in this game was designed to appeal to the hardcore Godzilla fan and as a pretty huge fan myself, I ate it right up.

godzilla6Rating:

As a Godzilla fan, I really enjoyed what this game had to offer, but objectively, there’s no denying that Godzilla: The Game is a small-budget title for a niche audience. While the game is immensely faithful to the source material, the visuals aren’t outstanding, the gameplay is repetitive, and the online mode gets old very quickly. However, the sheer amount of fanservice and the ability to stomp around cities and beating other kaiju as your favorite Godzilla monster make this a fun Godzilla simulator. The game is pretty short, but with a decent amount of unlockables and upgrades to keep you busy playing, at least for a little while longer. I definitely do not recommend this title for anyone looking for a deep experience, nor do I recommend buying it at a full sixty dollars. But if you love Godzilla, I say give it a rent, or even buy it if you can find it for a cheap price.

Godzilla: The Game for PS4 gets an okay out of ten.

Game Review: Splatoon (2015)

When you think of the word “shooters”, likely the last thing to come to mind is Nintendo. Nintendo’s new IP, Splatoon , is the Big N’s take on the popular genre, and their attempt to make it child-friendly while retaining some of the depth and customization many hardcore shooter fans are used to. So how did this experiment turn out?

splatoon2What Worked

Gameplay:

Turf War is Splatoon’s main online mode, and likely where you will spend most of your time. You take control of an Inkling, a strange humanoid creature than can transform into a squid at will. Unlike conventional shooters, while you can shoot your opponents, it isn’t the game’s primary goal. Your mission is to cover the ground in as much of your teams colored ink as possible within the time limit. Shooting your opponents does yield benefits however, as they explode into ink of your team’s color when they are covered in enough of your ink. You can even use your squid form to swim through your ink, to make traveling a lot faster, and incorporates an element of stealth into the game as opponents can’t normally see you while you are in your own ink. After the match is over, you receive experience points based on how much ink you personally covered the ground with (and you even get more as a bonus if your team wins!), which go towards leveling up your online rank as well as upgrading your equipment, which can have hidden stat boosts you unlock once you gain enough experience. You can also purchase new equipment at in game shops with money that you also earn from winning matches online. The main weapon classes are Splattershots, simple ink shooters, Rollers, giant paint rollers which cover a lot of ground but don’t have much range, and Ink Rifles, which are essentially long range ink snipers. Each weapon comes with its own sub-weapon, which range from ink grenades, shields, ink missiles, and more. There is quite a bit of customization allowed, including hats, shirts, shoes, weapons, each of which have their own stats and abilities.

splatoon4Once you gain enough experience points to raise your online rank to level 10, that’s where the real challenge begins. At Level 10, you are permitted access to Ranked Challenge mode, where rather than covering as much of the map as possible in ink, you are competing to capture and hold territories, somewhat similar to King of the Hill. Ranked Matches are much more competitive, as you must defend your point after capturing it until your time runs out, making defeating opponents a much higher priority than it was in Turf War mode. After the match, you will either win or lose points, which will go towards boosting your rank. All players start at a C-, and must earn their way up to an A+. In my experience, the game does a great job at pairing you with people of similar ranks and skill levels in this mode. It’s also worth noting that in either mode, I have not once experienced lag online, and only on a very few occasions have I been disconnected.

splatoon1While online multiplayer is the main attraction, there is fun to be had with the game’s story mode. The Octolings, (beings similar to Inklings, except they turn into octopi rather than squids) have stolen the power supply to Inkopolis (Splatoon’s main hub), and it is your duty to get it back! The campaign is level based, and you must navigate your way to the end of each level while defeating enemies as well as solving ink based puzzles and platforming challenges. Once in a while, you will run into the Octolings and do battle in a Turf War, and will even have to take on boss challenges. The campaign is around 5 hours long, perhaps an hour or two longer if you choose to search for all the secret items.

splatoon7Visuals:

Splatoon is a gorgeous and welcome departure visually from many other shooters. Splatoon is bright, cartoony, and colorful. It runs at a silky-smooth 60 frames-per-second and features full high definition. The characters are all cute, and well modeled and animated, and the environments are bright, varied, each bringing a distinct feel to them. Watching your squid swim through ink at 60 fps is almost hypnotic, and the lighting effects on the ink you spray make me want to jump in for a swim myself. Nintendo may be known for cartoony visuals in many of its franchises, but it’s a style they have experience with and it’s a style that works very well for Splatoon.

DLC Done right:

Since its launch, Splatoon has had multiple DLC updates, for free! These updates have included new maps, new weapons, and the Ranked Battle mode discussed earlier. Nintendo has made it clear that they plan on supporting Splatoon even further with more free updates, teasing even more modes, maps, and weapons.

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Music

Splatoon’s soundtrack has it’s own charming style, and each tune is quite catchy. Many of the songs are accompanied with “vocals” in squid language, which sounds completely unlike anything else yet still has me humming as soon they start. My only complaint in the music department is the lack of variety in music while playing online, as it seems as if there’s only two or three randomly selected songs, no matter which map you play on.

splatoon5Controls

While many roll their eyes at the idea of having to aim with gyro controls, in Splatoon they are the generally the best option as they provide the most accurate ability to aim. You can turn gyro controls off, but I find that aiming with the right control stick is actually slower and clunkier, and can make turning around in a pinch difficult. The Gamepad is the only control option for online and single player, because the screen provides a map, where you can tap on your team mates to jump straight to their position, a key feature for the main modes. However, in Two-Player local matches only, the second player can use a Pro-Controller to play.

splatoon6Which brings us to…

Things that need improvement:

Local Multiplayer

Two-Player matches where you compete to pop more balloons than your friend. That’s the extent of Local Multiplayer.

This is due to the fact that the game requires a Gamepad for Turf Wars and Ranked Battles, and only one Gamepad can be currently used with the Wii U, which is unfortunate because in order to play with a friends in any of the main modes, multiple Wii Us will be required.

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Lack of Online Lobbies

Do you have two Wii U’s so you and your friend can finally play? Great! But you’ll still have to wait, because there are no lobbies, not even for friends. In order to play with your friend, you’ll have to see if your friend is already playing in a match online, wait until that match is over, and hope that somebody leaves that match. If nobody leaves, you’ll have to wait again until somebody leaves, and only then can you jump into a match with your friend.

splatoon9In Conclusion

Splatoon’s gameplay is excellent, playfully subverting many of the tropes of modern shooters, and it’s visual style and characters are very charming. At launch, the game did feel light on content but has since been updated with a whole new mode, some new maps and weapons, and Nintendo has promised more free content is on the way as well. The customization options provide plenty of options to create your own unique character too.

One of the goals Nintendo outlined was that they wished to create the “Mario Kart of shooters”. I feel that the only things keeping Splatoon from achieving that goal, is that local multiplayer is almost non-existent, and jumping into online matches with friends can be difficult.

However, the game itself is highly polished, incredibly fun, and original. Splatoon’s not perfect, but it’s definitely worth a buy.

Splatoon gets a LEGENDARY out of ten.

Stay Fresh!

Game Review: Kid Icarus: Uprising (2012)

Kid Icarus: Uprising was a surprising announcement, considering the most recent game in the series was released over 20 years ago on the Gameboy. Kirby and Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai was tasked with the development of a title that would showcase the features of the 3DS, and at E3 2010, Kid Icarus: Uprising was the first title revealed for the system. Uprising is a third person action/rail shooter, which is an odd choice, considering the previous two games were classic 2D platformers. Does Kid Icarus: Uprising take off and breath new life into a franchise once thought dead, or does it fly too close to the sun?

What Works:

Gameplay

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Each level in Kid Icarus: Uprising is a unique blend of third-person rail shooter, which then switches to third-person ground combat halfway through the level. Each level starts off with Pit flying to his intended destination while shooting down enemies using the weapon of your choosing. Once you land at your destination, Pit fights enemies on the ground using both melee and shooting attacks while navigating to the end of the level, where you then fight the boss. Each level follows this basic structure, and it works well and there’s enough variation in enemies, and level design that it never feels repetitive.

kiupic4As you play, you earn hearts from defeating enemies and you find new weapons and abilities in treasure chests and from defeating bosses. Hearts are used as currency to purchase new weapons, and used when you set mission difficulties to higher levels. There are nine difficulty levels in total, with nine being the hardest. The higher the difficulty is, the more enemies will appear and the more damage they deal. If you are defeated at any point during a level, you will lose hearts and you will restart at a checkpoint on a lower difficulty setting. Gameplay is fun, addictive, and thanks to the large amount of collectable weapons and trophies, as well as multiple difficulty modes, replayability is very high. I found myself replaying levels over and over because certain items, more powerful weapons and secret paths are only unlockable on higher difficulties.

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Story

kiupic12At the outset, the story is rather simple. Something has revived the Goddess of Darkness Medusa, and Palutena, the Goddess of Light, guides Pit on his journey to defeat Medusa’s henchmen and prepare him for their final encounter, with a few twists along the way. There’s plenty of friendly banter between Pit and Palutena, and even with your foes. Kid Icarus: Uprising is lighthearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously, as characters will often break the fourth wall and make pop culture references. At one point, Pit even points out that he noticed a loading screen halfway through a level and is scolded by another character for doing so. The quirky characters, the witty (and sometimes intentionally corny) dialogue, and well acted script prevent the game from ever having a dull moment.

Visuals

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As mentioned, this game was created to showcase the power of the 3DS, and the effort put into the visuals shows. While character models and and background textures aren’t as detailed as you would see in console games, it’s easily forgivable considering the sheer scale of some of the environments and the amount of enemies on screen.

kiupic6The art direction and settings are fantastic, and each level looks different from the last. You’ll go from flying above the clouds, to outer space, and even into the depths of the underworld itself. The 3D effect is excellent, and even with dozens of enemies on screen with 3D enabled, I never encountered a noticeable drop in frame-rate. Everything from the in-game visuals to the menu icons are highly polished and very clean looking. Heck, the menus are the most visually appealing menu screens I have ever seen in a game. A lot of time went into making this game look as good as it possibly could.

Music

The soundtrack has an orchestral style, featuring remixes from the previous Kid Icarus titles and plenty of new tracks as well. The orchestrated mixes suit the game well, especially during the on-rails shooting segments where the tracks are timed perfectly to match the events and scenery as you fly towards your destination. Most songs are memorable and it’s easy to find yourself humming them even after you stop playing. The in-game music is full of energy and suits the action well, and the menu screen themes are appropriately relaxing as well. It would have been nice however, if there was more variety for the boss battle themes. The same song is often used for boss battles (save for a few special exceptions) and it would have been great if each boss had a unique theme, considering how different each boss really was. A special mention goes to the Orne’s 8-bit styled theme, for invoking a feeling of dread and anxiety as the terrifying 1-hit-kill enemy approaches.

Online Multiplayer

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Uprising has two main multiplayer modes, three-on-three team battles or six person free-for-alls. You control a angel equipped with any weapons or items you have earned from playing Single Player and you fight against your opponents in land battles on multiple stages. In team battles, when you defeat an opposing angel the other team’s collective life bar will go down. Once their life bar is completely drained, the last angel to have been defeated will respawn and become either Pit or Dark Pit, depending on if you’re playing on the Light or Dark Team. Once Pit or Dark Pit is defeated, their team loses. In free-for-all matches, battles are timed and the winner is the one who has defeated the most opponents. I personally prefer team matches, as free-for-alls tend to be very chaotic. Bonus weapons are sometimes given out to random players after matches and the winner of each match wins hearts. Needless to say, having more powerful weapons earned in story mode or purchased with hearts will put you at an advantage in mutliplayer. Multiplayer is fun and frantic, and highly replayable. Finding the type of weapon and item setups that work for you is the key to victory.

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A Ton of Content

kiupic5On top of the highly replayable 25 levels and addictive multiplayer, there is a lot this game has to offer. There are over one-hundred weapons, and there are dozens of modifiers for each weapon ensuring that no two weapons will be the same, meaning there will be lots of weapon collecting and customization as you buy, combine, and even obtain weapons from Streetpass. You will also be collecting “Idols” as you play, which are essentially trophies similar to those in Smash Bros. They feature weapons, characters, and enemies with a description or bio.

kiupic11You can even buy Kid Icarus idol trading cards, which can be scanned with the 3DS camera for hearts and new idols. The trading cards also utilize the 3DS’ augmented reality abilities. If you set an idol card on your table, and look at it using the 3DS camera, the 3DS will render a 3D model of the character on the card on your table. If you look at two cards at once, you can even make the characters battle. It’s an unnecessary feature, but it’s a fun inclusion. Kid Icarus: Uprising even borrows the “Checklist” feature from Kirby’s Air Ride, where you are provided a huge list of challenges in the form of three different puzzles. For each challenge you accomplish, you earn puzzle pieces that eventually add up to make three different portraits. The game has so much to offer even after you beat the main game. If you are a completionist, this game will be lodged in your 3DS cartridge slot for quite a while.

What Doesn’t Work

Controls

You know there’s an issue with controls when the game comes bundled with a stand to hold your 3DS. To play, you’ll be holding the 3DS with your left hand, moving with the circle pad, and shooting/meleeing with the left trigger, while you use the stylus with your right hand to aim. For the most part they work, as aiming with the stylus is very precise, however your hands will most likely get tired after playing for a while. The whole setup is a bit cumbersome and it’s baffling why the game doesn’t support the 3DS’s Circle Pad Pro peripheral. It’s also worth noting that your ease with the controls will likely depend on the size of your hands and which model of the 3DS you are using. I have played the game on both the original 3DS model and the 3DS XL and I found it easier to hold the XL while playing than trying to claw grip the tiny original model. Although if your game came with the stand, much of the difficulty is alleviated. It’s also helpful that the levels are fairly short, and are usually only 15 minutes long at max, so being able to play in short bursts is helpful. Overall, the controls take a bit of getting used to and you may require a break once in a while, but it shouldn’t be a significant enough issue to ruin the experience.

Conclusion

LegendaryUprising is the revival this dead franchise needed. The replayable levels, great music, witty dialogue, and addictive multiplayer make this game a real treat. Uprising is clearly a labor of love and the amount of extra polish and detail that went into it really makes this game something special. It’s just unfortunate that the game is held back a bit by its controls, but Kid Icarus: Uprising is worth it. This is a must-buy title for the 3DS and is amongst one of the best original titles Nintendo has created in recent years. Now let’s just hope that Pit’s next return will take less than 20 years.

Game Review: Metroid Prime (2002)

MetroidPrimebox

There was a lot to be worried about when Metroid Prime was first announced. Metroid in 3D? First person perspective? Outrageous! “Metroid is about discovery and exploration, not shooting aliens!” the fanboys cried. Luckily, Metroid Prime broke the standard FPS mold. Retro Studios quickly reclassified Metroid Prime as a “First Person Adventure”, and they expertly crafted one of the most immersive and atmospheric experiences in Nintendo history.

Where Samus's mission begins
Where Samus’s mission begins

Metroid Prime takes place shortly after Samus’s very first adventure in Metroid on the NES, where she defeated the Space Pirates and Mother Brain on Zebes, and annihilated the Metroids. The game begins with Samus responding to a distress signal from an abandoned ship orbiting a planet known as Tallon IV, where she discovers that Space Pirates have been using a dangerous substance known as Phazon to experiment and mutate the local creatures of the planet. After finding out that Ridley, one of Mother Brain’s cohorts, survived their encounter on Zebes, and after destroying a gruesome insect creature enhanced by Phazon, Samus pursuits Ridley to Tallon IV to find the Space Pirate base and to destroy the Phazon source.

What Works:

The Gameplay

First location on Talon IV
First location on Talon IV

Metroid Prime is the perfect transition of the Metroid franchise from 2D to 3D. The world is one large interconnected map with secrets and items to find, with many different environments. Expect backtracking, a trademark of the series. During your first visit to many of the locations, you’ll see areas you cannot access until you acquire an item much later in the game. Metroid Prime encourages you to search every nook and cranny and to get creative with the use of your weapons. The weapons you use are more like tools used to traverse the world, as you’ll be using them to solve puzzles more often than you’ll use them to fight enemies. Items include the classic Ice Beam, Super Missiles, Power Bombs and yes, even Samus’s trademark Morph Ball. A first for the series, Prime introduces different visors that allows Samus to get a new perspective on exploration, such as the x-ray visor that allows her to see through certain objects and walls, and a thermal visor that allows her to track enemy heat signatures even if an enemy isn’t visible normally. Metroid Prime features combat, but like the 2D Metroid games, killing enemies is usually more for convenience than it is necessary to beat the game, and the more intense battles are usually with boss monsters. More often than not, you’ll be able to skip fighting anything just by avoiding enemies and making your way through the room. But there are sections where your progress will be blocked by a locked door until you defeat all the enemies in the room. The difficulty of the game mostly depends on the amount of secrets and collectables you go out of your way to find. If you put in the effort to find every Energy Tank, and Missile Expansion, you’ll have more health and missile ammo and an easier time fighting enemies. Metroid Prime also features multiple difficulty modes for those looking for a challenge.

Story

Spoilers: There are Metroids in this Metroid game
Spoilers: There are Metroids in this Metroid game

To preserve the atmosphere of isolation and loneliness, Metroid Prime features no dialogue. Instead, the story is told through scanning objects and the environment with your scan visor, where data logs are stored. The further you progress, the more you learn about the original inhabitants of Tallon IV, the origins of the Phazon, and impact Phazon has had on the inhabitants. You also learn more about the purposes Ridley and the Space Pirates use it for, and the progress they make studying the dangerous substance. Scanning these data logs works because it doesn’t break the atmosphere and gameplay. For speed runners or for those who have played the game before, scanning the data logs is unessential and can be skipped entirely. But for those who wish to dig deeper into the Space Pirates plans and learn more about Tallon IV before the arrival of the Phazon, the story is there for the player to piece together.

Music

Metroid has always been known for its great music. Prime has a wonderfully creepy soundtrack and makes perfect use of its musical score through the entire game. From the title screen all the way through the credits, the music does a wonderful job setting the tone for the game. There’s a healthy mix of new tracks and remixes of older themes, and musical styles usually fall within the creepy sci-fi/electronic and synthesized orchestra categories, and each of the tracks suits their respective environments and battles perfectly.

The Little Details

Metroid Prime does everything it can to convince you that the world of Tallon IV is real. The artists at Retro Studios really know their stuff. Water ripples as your Morph Ball rolls around in a pond,. The reflection of Samus’s face in her visor appears when the lighting conditions are just right. Plants sway in the wind. Ice quickly forms over Samus’s arm cannon when her Ice Beam is fully charged. The echo of Samus’s arm cannon firing when you are in an enclosed area. All of these little details and more just create an amazing atmosphere of isolation and loneliness. Retro does everything they can to make you feel trapped on this world with Samus.

What Doesn’t:

Even objectively, it’s difficult to find something wrong with Metroid Prime, so what I’m about to list are just nitpicks and possible annoyances, and aren’t necessarily huge faults.

Graphics

The scenery isn't bad for a 12 year game
The scenery isn’t bad for a 12 year game

Metroid Prime was originally released on the Gamecube in 2002, and it shows. There are noticeably muddier textures compared to more modern games, and some polygonal edges on many objects. But even so, Metroid Prime is artistically beautiful and manages to craft an atmospheric world despite being 12 years old, and it isn’t enough of a problem to take you out of the experience.

If you can manage to find Metroid Prime Trilogy on the Wii however, the version included on that disc has a higher resolution, widescreen, and higher quality textures.

Controls

Locking on is essential during boss battles
Locking on is essential during boss battles

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the controls, they aren’t your conventional FPS controls. Both looking around and moving are mapped to the left control stick because swapping your weapon is mapped to the right stick. This might sound like a problematic control scheme on paper, but it was actually designed around platforming and locking onto enemies, rather than aiming. So those used to aiming to fire at their targets in standard first-person-shooters may find the controls restricting or awkward at first.

It’s also worth noting that the Wii version of the game included on the Metroid Prime Trilogy disc is upgraded with the ability to aim by pointing the Wii remote at the screen, and still allows use of the lock-on system.

Load Times

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There are a few areas where progress will be halted for a few seconds (or longer depending on the size of the next room) while the next area loads. However, the load times are cleverly masked with cut-scenes (such as Samus waiting in an elevator taking her to the next area), or by doors that “malfunction” until the next area loads, as not to break the immersion. Wait times can be noticeable, but are never really long enough to become a major annoyance.

Final Score:

Masterpiece

10 out of 10. This game is why Retro Studios is my favorite game company. Whenever I hear that they’re working on a new project, I get very excited. Metroid Prime put Retro on the map and has proven that outsourcing first-party franchises to other game companies isn’t always a bad thing. Metroid Prime is without a doubt my favorite Metroid title and has earned a well deserved spot in my mind as one of the greatest games ever designed.

It’s just a shame that in an effort to outdo Retro, Nintendo thought co-developing with Team Ninja was a good idea.

Has daddy issues apparently
Has daddy issues apparently

Game Review: TWAU Episode 2:Smoke and Mirrors


Continuing on the story from the first episode, Bigby Wolf is still on the trail of a killer of Fables. With faces new and old to the series appearing, the player is confronted with more twists and turns to the case. Unfortunately, to say much more in regards to plot could ruin some of the fun, so I’m going to skip forward to…
What Worked
As with the first episode, there were numerous character paths you could take to get similar results. As such, I’ve started a second playthrough with the exact opposite decisions for comparison, which, from this point forward, I will also keep up-to-date to provide a proper, thorough review. That said, even though it took forever to actually release, the second episode improved on many aspects from the first. The voice acting, for example, received a very generous boost from Dave “Lee Everett” Fennoy playing the violence prone Bluebeard. Though his character only appeared in a short part of the beginning of the episode, he was very memorable, and I hope he appears again later. Moral choices again play a major part of the story, though by this episode, it still seems to indicate that regardless of what you do, there will be few differences in your episode ending.

Hey Georgie, you’ve got red on you.

What Didn’t

Unfortunately, while this is rather fun, it’s not perfect. There are lots of moments in-game where the seams are visible. For example, load times are still a major problem in the beginning of each segment within the episode, often causing the dialog to shortly run before actual visual accompaniment. Though it may not be as obvious to people who just bought the game and/or started playing, I could see the story parts that while appearing on the menu when I played upon release, got either scrapped or edited in the long break between episodes. As I mentioned in the positive section, while there are many ways to go about your problems in-game, you’ll inevitably get a similar, if not the same result.

Final Score:
While it story-wise adds upon the first episode, Smoke & Mirrors is hindered by a lot of glitching and obvious edits. Not an awful way to spend 5 dollars, but certainly not the best.
7 morally sketchy wolfmen out of 10