Tuesday, March 29, 2011

ME2: Arrival, Crysis 2, and Gods Eater Burst  

Games: The new (and final) Mass Effect 2 DLC was released today. Called "Arrival", it's about Commander Shepard getting called out to rescue someone in hostile Batarian territory. Apparently, a scientist has some inside scoop about the Reapers coming back, and it's up to ol’ Shep to save the day.

You'll be doing a lot of this.
The entire DLC is about an hour and a half long, so I had plenty of time today to play through from start to finish and still submit a final review. Look for that to go up at GameCritics pretty soon, but at the risk of spoiling my own review, the bottom line is that it's pretty skippable (especially at $7) unless you’re a Mass Effect completist.

I will say this, though: I had more fun in that hour and a half than I did over the entirety of Dragon Age 2.



Games: Over the recent weekend, I also finished Crysis 2 and submitted a full review for that as well. In general I liked it, but that was kind of in spite of itself.

If you ask me, the game shines brightest when the player is using the superpowers of the Nanosuit to take out human enemies by going back and forth between stealth and full assault. The moment-to-moment tactics in those levels are quite exciting and give the game a great feel. However, it's not all roses.

When the squiddy enemies show up, the game kind of forgets what it does best and lapses into some samey-feeling shooting galleries. It's not terrible because you still have access to the suit’s powers, but it's not nearly as exciting, and the developers throw a few too many of these sequences into the mix. The middle of the campaign drags a bit due to these parts.

Also, I have to say that the story was not nearly as good as I had hoped it would be. Despite having a science fiction author involved, the plot was totally forgettable and borderline cliché. It's a good thing that the gameplay had the high points it did, because they really saved the experience for me.

Look for that review soon, as well.


Games: With the two things I mentioned above out of the way, I'm still working my way through Gods Eater Burst on PSP.

I haven't mentioned it here at the blog yet, but it's basically a “lite” version of Monster Hunter with a strong anime slant and combat that runs a hell of a lot faster than it does in Capcom’s game -- not that the speed itself is necessarily a good thing. (Spazzy alert: GO!!!)

Other than a much faster pace of play, it's got actual characters and story, which can be seen as either a plus or minus to certain players. It's certainly on the cliché side, but I'm sure fans of anime won't mind too much.

The big hook to the gameplay is that the player uses a weapon called a God Arc which is a sword, shield, gun and giant mouth all wrapped up into one. With the push of a button, this particular piece of kit can transform back and forth between all four modes, so combat feels a lot different than Monster Hunter’s emphasis on mastery of each separate class of weapon.

The final thing to mention is that the bullets the player’s gun uses can be modified to take on different elemental attributes and fire in different patterns. With a little bit of tweaking, all sorts of effects can be created: missiles that launch into the air, bullets that scream in a circle around enemies, some that are homing, some that leave napalm-like trails, etc. etc. etc.

The variety of effects is mind-boggling and deep, but the interface is incredibly player-unfriendly and the game gives no tutorials whatsoever. I had to get detailed help from another player in order to begin to understand what I was doing, and between that person, YouTube and GameFAQs, I'm just now starting to get a handle on it.

... seriously, it's that complicated.

I estimate I'm about halfway through the game, maybe a little less. I'm still having fun with it, but I'll be perfectly frank in saying that despite the new ideas it brings to the table, it really can't stack up to the depth and stellar level of production that Monster Hunter sports. It's a fun diversion for sure, but it's got no chance of unseating the king.


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