We've moved! Visit us at MetroTimes.com.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Playable

Posted By on Wed, Sep 4, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Madden 25
EA Sports
Xbox 360 (Review Copy), PS3
★★★★

In Madden NFL 25, the venerable football simulation franchise celebrates its silver anniversary with a bang, introducing a revamped running system, a beefed-up franchise mode and a host of other incremental, but not insignificant, improvements.

The most hyped new feature in Madden 25 is the Run Free system, which provides gamers with unprecedented control over ball carriers' evasive maneuvers. Like cover star and Lions legend Barry Sanders, players can juke around, hurdle over, truck through and stiff-arm defenders en route to big gains on the ground using the precision modifier to activate up to 30 unique moves — increased from just eight in last year's game. This new assortment of moves, including the return of manual turbo, makes the rushing attack more formidable than ever, further balancing out offenses to create an even more realistic simulation. A new read option system adds another layer of realism, allowing players to fully utilize the strengths of the league's new generation of dual-threat quarterbacks.

Madden's franchise and career modes have finally been built back up to the level of depth and immersion that they had reached at the peak of the previous generation of consoles with the all-encompassing Connected Franchise mode. In Connected Franchise, gamers can play through careers from the perspectives of players, coaches and owners. The player and coach modes build upon last year's solid foundation, while the long-awaited reintroduction of owner mode gives players the ability to make choices that have an impact both on and off the field, from personnel decisions to setting the prices of concessions to packing up the franchise and moving to another city. In owner mode, the focus is as much on making a profit as building a winner.

Another improvement is the enhanced Skills Trainer mode, which will help both veteran players and newbies get the hang of the new Run Free system, as well as work on other skills. Finally, the fantasy football-inspired Madden Ultimate Team mode returns with an even greater variety of online and offline challenges for gamers' dream teams. All in all, the 25th anniversary edition of Madden is a top tier sports gaming experience, and gamers have come to expect nothing less.

Lions Madden 25 Season Simulation

The back-to-back selection of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson as Madden cover stars marks the first time players from the same team have appeared on consecutive covers, raising questions about the dreaded Madden curse. In spite of Calvin's individual achievements in 2012, the Lions stumbled through a horrific, 4-12 debacle, proving the curse to be alive and well. Could Barry's presence on this year's cover counteract the curse's ill effects? It would appear at least partially so, as this edition of Real Detroit Weekly's annual, highly unscientific, Madden season simulation showcases a Lions team returning to respectability, but falling short of excellence. The Lions would begin the season with a 20-3 home victory against the Vikings, dominating all phases of the game. Still rolling in week two, the Lions would rout the Cardinals, 38-17. Two straight losses, including a humiliating 19-0 shutout at Washington, would drop the Lions back to .500 by week four. However, Reggie Bush would steal the show in Green Bay the following week, rushing for 106 yards and two touchdowns in Detroit's first victory at Lambeau Field since 1991. Bush would stay hot in Cleveland (sorry, couldn't resist) the next week, rushing for 9.3 yards per carry on 130 yards rushing and one touchdown against the Browns in a 24-10 win. The Lions would find themselves tied with the Packers for the division lead at 7-4 on Thanksgiving. Naturally, it being a big game, the Lions would choke, losing 27-10. In the must-win season finale, the Lions would finally come through, torching Minnesota in a 46-7 blowout. After putting on a clinic in the Twin Cities, the Lions would fall just short of the playoffs at 9-7. The Packers would barely win the division at 10-6, meaning that a win on Thanksgiving would have given the Lions their first division title in 20 years. | RDW

  • Share

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Playable

Posted By on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Remember-Me.jpg

Remember Me
Capcom
PS3 (Review Code), Xbox 360, PC
★ ★ ★ 1/2

The first thing you'll notice about Remember Me is just how fucking pretty it is. Its visuals and the atmosphere it creates are so interesting, I felt the need to say it was fucking pretty. On top of just looking good, the storyline is intriguing, and the overall narrative found within has all the makings of good science fiction. First and foremost, however, Remember Me is a video game, and while it gets a lot of things right, the missteps have more to do with the actual gameplay.

The setting of Remember Me, is 2084, Neo-Paris. The citizens of this time have embraced Sensen technology (think Google glass on steroids) to monetize mankind's most prized possession – memories. In the future, memories have been digitized, and are now available to be relived, shared, sold and – yes – stolen. As the game opens, Nillin (that's you!) has just had her memory erased, and getting them back will involve upsetting this harmonious balance. Luckily, Nillin is a memory hunter with the innate ability to 'remix memories', basically going into people's minds and changing small aspects of their memory to completely change the outcome of said memory. (It's pretty fantastic in concept.)

Concept, though, doesn't always see you through to execution, which is Remember Me's biggest failing. While the visuals of Neo Paris are breathtaking, there's shockingly little room for exploration, making the beauty of the game only matched by its linearity. Then there's the combat. A combo system similar to Batman's Arkham series is augmented with the ability to customize your combos with 'pressens'. Basically, there are three pressens, with differing effects when equipped. One that does more damage, one that heals, and one that speeds up the cool down times of your super attacks, with a fourth that multiplies the preceding effect. Customizing your combos with these pressens allows for a wide variety of possibilities, allowing you to switch for whatever circumstances may arise. All that would be fantastic if the combat weren't so repetitive, with limited enemies to pull your combos off on. On top of that, oftentimes you have to dodge midway through the combo making longer strings needlessly complicated. The best aspect of Remember Me is by far the aforementioned memory remixing, which is used sparingly enough to not overstay its welcome.

Remember Me is a perfect example of its execution being greatly outpaced by its concept. Despite all that, the visuals and story alone are worthy of a playthrough, even if the gameplay prevents it from being a game of the year candidate. | RDW

Remember-Me.jpg

Fuse
EA Games
Xbox 360 (Review Copy), PS3
★ ★ ★

Fuse, the first non-Sony exclusive title from Insomniac Games really wants you to team up with three others, and promises you some pretty sweet weapons as you go. The problem is, while the overall experience is solid, other than those pretty sweet weapons, there isn't a whole helluva lot that really makes Fuse stand out.

You will be playing as one of the four members of 'Overstrike 9', a ragtag group of individuals tasked with keeping special weapons technology out of enemy hands. And how does one do that? Well by killing all of your enemies with said weapons technology. Each character has a unique fuse-powered (get it?) weapon with different combat effects. Team leader Dalton gets a big shield, Naya gets a chain reaction-capable black hole weapon, Izzy has a shotgun that freezes enemies in a crystal-like substance, and Jacob gets a super sweet crossbow. As you play, you can gain experience points, which you can put towards a skill tree, adding light RPG elements into the game. Also, should you go it alone, you can switch characters on the fly, with only minor level scaling in regards to character level. But who wants to play alone? Get your friends and shoot shit, dammit! Solid teamwork with live players can be quite satisfying when you team up all the weapon skills.

So everything sounds great, right? Well...great is pushing it. While Fuse does everything competently, everything feels too by the numbers. Fuse's biggest problem is that there's a general lack of personality. The characters and storyline lack any really gravitas, and those awesome weapon skills are dragged down by an overall lack of punching power. Granted that's most likely by design to team up skills, but on the whole, it also makes the weapons feel underpowered.

The premise behind Fuse had all the makings of a great co-op third person shooter, teamwork and interesting ways to make your enemies go splat, and when playing with three buddies, it can be a bit of fun. Unfortunately, the overall execution makes you feel like you're going through the paces, and woe be the poor bastard who plays by him/herself. | RDW

re_gameplay.jpg

Resident Evil: Revelations
Capcom
PS3 (Review Code), Xbox 360
★ ★ ★ 1/2

Resident Evil: Revelations first came to light last year as a 3DS title, receiving high acclaim for staying true to the survival horror genre, as opposed to the more action oriented turn the series has taken as of late. For whatever reason, if you missed out, Capcom has released the best (and arguably only good) Resident Evil title of 2012 on home consoles.

This time around, you’ll be playing primarily as series stalwart Jill Valentine, as she, along with new partner Parker as they board the cruise liner the ‘Queen Zenobia’ to eradicate a viral biohazard. The ship setting fits the cramped and claustrophobic feel of RE perfectly, with a lot of dark enclosed spaces chock full of places for monsters to ambush you. Speaking of monsters, instead of standard zombies, or the weird Las Plagas zombie/rage things in more recent games, the T-Abyss virus brings you unsettling monsters of a more aquatic variety. Adding a new wrinkle to the already tried and true formula. Beware though, for some reason, early in the game, for no reason at all the difficulty spikes into ‘stupid hard’ territory.

A mostly faithful port from the 3DS, the addition of a second thumb stick helps controls quite a bit, while some of the touchscreen puzzles have been excised, understandable since its doubtful many players have those newfangled touch monitors anyways. Bearing that this originally was a handheld title, Resident Evil: Revelations clocks in at a lean 6-7 hours, while on the short side offer a solid diversion that’s worth a spin. | RDW

  • Share

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Playable

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Poker-Night2.jpg

Telltale Game's Poker Night 2
Telltale Games
PS3 (Review Code), Xbox 360, PC
★★★ 1/2

Video poker games are a dime a dozen. Strike that. They're worth a whole hell of a lot less than that. A better analogy would be, like, they're a nickle a million. Basically, there's a lot of them out there but for some reason they keep making more. However, only one video poker game has Brock Samson (The Venture Bros), Claptrap (Borderlands), Ash Williams (Evil Dead) and Sam (Sam & Max) as your opponents. Oh, and if that weren't enough GLaDOS from Portal functions as the card dealer. Awesome, right? Yessir, Telltale Game's Poker Night 2 offers all that, and considering the personalities of your poker buddies, you know you're in for an interesting game.

Offering two versions of Poker; Texas Hold 'Em and Omaha, the concept is simple. Take everyone else's money. Much like a real game, half the game is in the cards, and the other half is in shooting the breeze with the other guys, studying up on them to figure out their tells. Each character has a tell, and it's up to your keen eye to figure them out... Or you can buy a round a drinks (served by Borderland's Mad Moxxi) and get your opponents drunk and sloppy.

The actual poker itself plays out similarly to many other video poker games, mainly solid, but attempts at human unpredictability when betting come into play just come off as strange. Overall the poker is decent, but truthfully, the real draw to Poker Night 2 isn't the poker at all. It's the characters. The banter between each of the characters is comedy gold (Claptrap and GLaDOS in particular). Unfortunately, as with all games that feature voice acting, after a while the spoken lines will eventually get repeated, which is a bummer. To keep things going, winning will often unlock some cool swag, by way of premium themes for your console of choice, and some special unlockables for Borderlands 2. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Games like Poker Night 2 are meant to be a short diversion. Once you've heard all the jokes, and collected all the swag, the long-term viability comes into question. But, being that it's only a $5 buy-in (for less than the price of a movie), you'll get a fun and funny way to kill the time. | RDW

vine_logo.jpg

Vine
(Mobile App)
IOS (free) Google Play (available soon)

You may be surprised to hear this, but sometimes the editors here at RDW actually allow me to leave the chair I'm chained to when reviewing video games for the Playable column. So it's in these absolutely fleeting moments of non-video gameness, that I try to broaden my horizons, step out of my comfort zone... and mess around with mobile apps.

So, if there's an app that has clearly and completely overtaken my life, it's the media juggernaut in waiting, Vine. For those already initiated, you may know Vine as "the video version of Instagram". And for you poor souls who have not yet jumped on, allow me to explain in vivid detail what Vine entails.

Vine is the video version of Instagram.

Allowing you six seconds of video per post (since Vine is developed by Twitter, a short limit is pretty much par for the course), what makes Vine so addictive is the fact that those six seconds per post don't need to be consecutive. You see, Vine only records your video when you are actually pressing the record button on the screen, meaning that creative folks can (and have) been creating 6-second video masterpieces.

Yes, there's still a high possibility that Vine will devolve into an endless selfie-fest – and some will argue that it already has, but I like to think that the number of fun, interesting Vines far outnumber those boring ones with six seconds of stupid-faced stupidness. On a social media marketing end, the prospects are intriguing, with some media outlets already playing around. Check out the Vine for the just-announced Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D for reference.

Released in early January, Vine can currently be downloaded on all iOS devices. Android users, while not currently available, Vine will be coming to you very soon. And as long as those Vines stay fresh and interesting, it can't come soon enough. | RDW

  • Share

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Playable

Posted By on Wed, May 8, 2013 at 12:00 AM

BLOOOOOD_DRAAAAAAGOOOOOOON.jpg

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Ubisoft
PC (Review Code), PS3, Xbox 360
★★★★

Okay, real quick. I need you go to YouTube, and watch the trailer for Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. It's cool. I'll wait.

...

Okay, you back? Was that not the most ridiculously silly, over-the-top '80s awful/awesome thing ever? Yes. Yes it was. And will you ever watch anything more kick ass than that in your life EVER? No. No you won't. Well, here's the deal. Ubisoft announced Blood Dragon, a Far Cry 3 mod on April 1; which as many of us know, has transformed from April Fool's Day to Mean Spirited Internet Hoax Day. So dammit Ubisoft, you give us this awesome trailer while we sit here knowing, there's no possible way Blood Dragon could be real...it's just too awesome to exist... dammit.

Except it IS real.

If, for some reason you didn't take the time to look at the trailer when I told you to (and seriously, if you didn't, what the hell is wrong with you?), let me explain. If you can imagine the absolutely open world insanity of the Far Cry 3 universe, and shower it in pink neon and purple hues. You are starting to get the idea of what Blood Dragon looks like. Now, if you combine that with the films of the cinematic halcyon years of the '80s – Terminator, Predator and anything Michael Biehn, you have the look and feel of probably the greatest thing ever.

While technically an add-on to Far Cry 3, Blood Dragon is a stand-alone campaign that can be downloaded and played even if you don't own FC3... but it's better if you do. In any event, if you've played Far Cry 3, then you know how the game handles, because everything controls the same. Well, the same, but somehow AWESOMER. Replacing all guns with LAZER versions, and going all in with the '80s sci-fi action movie fantasy motif, the only issue is that Blood Dragon may actually be a little TOO awesome. You see, the neon awesomeness that the visuals bathe in may actually start to sear your retinas... with radicalness. Ultimately, that's a small price to pay to be in the presence of such greatness.

Aware of its own ridiculousness, and basking in every glorious second with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has found a way to take the over-the-top gameplay of the original FC3, and improved probably the only sub-par aspect of that game. The story. Yes, it's intentionally stupid, and yes, it's silly, but c'mon. You weren't expecting high art when you downloaded something called Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, were you? | RDW

Poker-Night2.jpg

Telltale Game's Poker Night 2
Telltale Games
PS3 (Review Code), Xbox 360, PC
★★★ 1/2

Video poker games are a dime a dozen. Strike that. They're worth a whole hell of a lot less than that. A better analogy would be, like, they're a nickle a million. Basically, there's a lot of them out there but for some reason they keep making more. However, only one video poker game has Brock Samson (The Venture Bros), Claptrap (Borderlands), Ash Williams (Evil Dead) and Sam (Sam & Max) as your opponents. Oh, and if that weren't enough GLaDOS from Portal functions is the card dealer. Awesome, right? Yessir, Telltale Game's Poker Night 2 offers all that, and considering the personalities of your poker buddies, you know you're in for an interesting game.

Offering two versions of Poker; Texas Hold 'Em and Omaha, the concept is simple. Take everyone else's money. Much like a real game, half the game is in the cards, and the other half is in shooting the breeze with the other guys, studying up on them to figure out their tells. Each character has a tell, and it's up to your keen eye to figure them out... Or you can buy a round a drinks (served by Borderland's Mad Moxxi) and get your opponents drunk and sloppy.

The actual poker itself plays out similarly to many other video poker games, mainly solid, but attempts at human unpredictability when betting come into play just come off as strange. Overall the poker is decent, but truthfully, the real draw to Poker Night 2 isn't the poker at all. It's the characters. The banter between each of the characters is comedy gold (Claptrap and GLaDOS in particular). Unfortunately, as with all games that feature voice acting, after a while the spoken lines will eventually get repeated, which is a bummer. To keep things going, winning will often unlock some cool swag, by way of premium themes for your console of choice, and some special unlockables for Borderlands 2. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Games like Poker Night 2 are meant to be a short diversion. Once you've heard all the jokes, and collected all the swag, the long-term viability comes into question. But, being that it's only a $5 buy-in (for less than the price of a movie), you'll get a fun and funny way to kill the time. | RDW

  • Share

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Playable

Posted By on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Injustice: Gods Among Us
WB Games
PS3 (Review Copy), Xbox 360, Wii U

It would be easy to just write off Injustice: Gods Among Us, as Mortal Kombat with DC Comics characters, but to do so would be a mistake. It's true that the visual aesthetic clearly has MK developer NetherRealm Studios' imprint on it, but once the game is fired up, and your characters are selected, you'll find yourself realizing just how different the two games are.

The first thing you'll notice is that the button layout is radically different. Gone is the standard MK setup, of two punches, two kicks and a block button, replaced with a button layout more reminiscent of the Marvel vs. Capcom series. The removal of the block button, in favor of the more common act of pressing back, in particular changes the nature of the game. Crossups are now possible in Injustice, adding a new layer to the matchup. Each character has an individual special power (because... well superheroes), offering different gameplay possibilities, i.e.; Deathstroke's 'Enhanced Reflexes' power will make all of his projectiles unblockable for a short time. The payback to that ability, however, is that all of his projectiles will miss until Enhanced Reflexes recharges. While there's a very deep fighting system, the initial bar of entry is simple enough, so if you're here just because you like Aquaman (said no one ever) you can press buttons and have a blast doing so.

Some gameplay mechanics from MK do live on though, albeit in a different form. The excellent EX meter from MK is tweaked and improved, allowing for interesting combo extending properties. The already good combo-breaker mechanic has been updated into 'wager' where both players can gamble an amount of their super meter to either do extra damage or heal life lost. Completely new to Injustice, and completely awesome to everyone, are the interactive stages. You can actually use various properties of each level itself to do damage to your opponent. If that weren't enough, it's possible (through a well placed hit) to launch your enemy completely out of the backdrop and into a completely different part of the stage. It's almost criminally cinematic.

Speaking of cinematic, Injustice has got a fantastic story mode. While MK was lauded for having quite possibly the best story mode in a fighting game at the time, Injustice offers a shorter – yet in many ways superior – storyline. Operating similarly to DC's Elseworlds stories, Injustice operates on the premise of, "What if Superman decided that he should be ruler of the world?" In an interesting take, Superman is actually the villain of the game, with the lines that we know our favorite DC characters to toe, being completely blurred. As you play, you'll come across characters whose loyalties and motivations have completely changed in light of Superman's change of status quo. Many of DC's big hitters come into play, and even a few lesser-known characters (Ares? Killer Frost? Really?) thrown in for good measure. While the story does delve into silly at some points because... comic books, it never drags on and has an excellent sense of pacing.

Fighting games are a hard game to score, because moreso than many other genres, gameplay and character techniques and strategy can grow and change, so as a completive fighting game all I can say is that while Injustice: Gods Among Us may have some MK in its pedigree, it's wholy its own beast and has started off on the right track. Though as far as a complete gameplay experience goes, Popular comic characters, an intriguing story mode, and overall fun gameplay make Injustice a worthy playthrough. | RDW

  • Share

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Playable

Posted By on Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Bioshock: Infinite
2K Games
PC (Review Copy Via Steam), PS3, Xbox 360
★★★★★

So I have a coworker who's been religiously watching trailers of the film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Now it's been a long time since I had to read that book in high school, but if I remember right, that book was heavy with allusions to the American Dream, and the ultimate disillusionment of that dream. Oddly enough, playing through Bioshock: Infinite, I can't help but draw parallels. The third entry to the massively successful and critically acclaimed series strikes again, this time, a solid first person shooter comes wrapped in a narrative that, all at once, peeks into the dark side of American Exceptionalism, and the concept of ideals, and the ultimate loss of faith in those ideals. Oh, and gruesome melee kills... definitely tons of that too.

Bioshock: Infinite opens with Booker DeWitt, a former Pinkerton, with more than a fair share of blood on his ledger, is given a task by an unknown benefactor to repay a debt. The repayment comes in the form of a girl named Elizabeth, who is currently in a sky bound city known as Columbia, run by a Zachary Comstock, a self-styled prophet. Upon reaching the city in the clouds, Booker finds a utopialike atmosphere, though that quickly fades once the reality of race relations on said utopia are revealed. The dark underbelly of Columbia becomes apparent through Booker's interactions with the population, as whispers of a revolutionary faction the Vox Populi become more apparent. Eventually finding Elizabeth, Booker must evaluate his own life and his own choices, as his journey with Elizabeth through Columbia will make him question even himself and his motives.

The narrative of Bioshock: Infinite is not only deep for a first person shooter, but ultimately is one of the most thought-provoking video games, period. While the original two games were also considered hallmarks in game storytelling, it's this storyline that mixes a period piece storyline with science fiction and results in a concoction that most in the storytellin' biz can only dream of.

Speaking of concoctions, did you know when Booker drinks one, he can do cool shit like shoot lightning at the enemy? FUCKIN RIGHT HE CAN.

The crux of Infinite's gameplay is similar to the previous games, with various tweaks. The special power inducing plasmids from the Bioshock series have been renamed Vigor, allowing Booker to team up his standard gunplay with said vigors to strategize the best way to defeat the hordes of enemies he and Elizabeth will face. Speaking of Elizabeth, she makes herself useful by scrounging the battlefield for items that Booker can use, all the while staying out of the way of the enemy, preventing Infinite from becoming one incredibly long and tedious escort mission. Using a combination of vigors and conventional weaponry, Booker can become quite the surgical combatant, which is in stark contrast to when he does a melee kill; those are ALWAYS messy and gruesome. As they should be. What's changed is your shield. In previous games, your shield was not self-replenishing, adding a level of tension to each battle, which sadly has been replaced by a shield that recovers itself if no damage has been done. The tension lost by having better shields is replaced by the fact that your enemies in Columbia are far better armed than any of those psychos in Rapture were. Instead of psychopaths with clubs, you're dealing with fanatics with guns. What's scarier? Take your pick. Also, since Bioshock: Infinite chronologically takes place before the first two games, the series mainstay; the Big Daddy is nowhere to be found. Fear not, you'll still be scared shitless with encounters of another sort, and by the end of the game, you'll probably think twice whenever you hear the word Handyman.

The hardest part of playing Bioshock: Infinite actually comes after completing the campaign. It's not to say the gameplay was a walk in the park, because it wasn't, but the difficulty comes in really processing what you've just experienced. The storytelling will bother you, in a way that all good stories do, while the conclusion of Bioshock: Infinite is worthy of it's own game review, if only for its obtuseness. All things considered, the third entry to the acclaimed Bioshock series can easily be considered the best, so much so, that after completing your journey through the twilight of Columbia, your jaunt through the underwater Rapture, actually pales in comparison... and that's really sayin' something.

| RDW

  • Share

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Playable

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 12:00 AM

MLB: The Show 13
SCEA
PS3 (Review Copy), Vita
★★★★

Major Leage Baseball 2k13
2K Sports
Xbox 360 (Review Copy), PS3
★★

In the world of sports, if you aren't getting better in the offseason, you're getting worse.

Case in point: the 2012 Lions returned all 22 starters from their 2011 team. The Lions' front office staff felt confident that the same group of players who got into the playoffs as a wild card and got bounced in the first round would become Super Bowl contenders the following year. After a 4-12 debacle of a season, the Lions learned that stagnation equals regression.

By comparison, the 2013 Tigers, after a trip to the World Series - something which many teams would be content with - made key upgrades in the offseason to improve their chances of reaching the championship round again, and this time winning it all. It's not a roster overhaul by any means, but the Tigers continue to make sensible moves to remain competitive, such as allowing Delmon Young to walk away to make room for a healthy Victor Martinez as the designated hitter; acquiring Torii Hunter to patrol right field and add some pop to the number two spot in the batting order; and locking up Anibal Sanchez to maintain one of the most feared pitching rotations in the American League.

In the world of sports video games, this same adage holds true. And in this analogy, the Lions represent Major League Baseball 2K13 and the Tigers represent MLB The Show 13.

Here's an excerpt of a conversation that probably took place in the executive offices of both the Detroit Lions and 2K Sports after their respective 2012 campaigns: "Well, guys, last year was pretty good. Not great, but definitely, solidly good. No doubt about that. So...let's release virtually the exact same product and make people pay full price for it again next year!" Essentially, this is what 2K13 is: the exact same game from last year, aside from its updated rosters, yet it still costs a full $60. Granted, it's still a good game overall, and its signature analog pitching system is still superior to The Show's more traditional system. But dated graphics and the lack of any novel upgrades makes this feel like a bargain bin title mistakenly placed on a full price rack. Of course, for Xbox-owning baseball aficionados, this is the only option.

Playstation 3 owners can rejoice in knowing that, like the Tigers organization, Sony works hard to put a championship-caliber team on the field each season. MLB The Show 13 includes a variety of subtle tweaks and adjustments to make improvements on what was already consistently regarded as one of the best franchises in not only baseball, but all of sports gaming. Crisp, realistic visuals and spot-on audio create an authentic, immersive ballpark atmosphere. A revamped, slightly more forgiving hitting system makes this year's edition more accessible to newcomers, while also adding more realism to the game. The new hitting system leads to more contact at the plate, which can lead to some intense pitcher-batter duels, but doesn't necessarily mean more hits or home runs. Instead, the adjustment simply adds some balance to a dynamic that previously had favored the pitcher. A scaled-back Beginner Mode has also been added to get rookies up to speed, and throwing mechanics on defense have been tweaked. The highly-addictive Road to the Show mode returns, as does The Show's biggest flaw: extended load times. The long delays can be annoying, but the overall quality of the game at the end of the load screen makes the wait worthwhile. | RDW

  • Share

Playable

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 12:00 AM

MLB: The Show 13
SCEA
PS3 (Review Copy), Vita
★★★★

Major Leage Baseball 2k13
2K Sports
Xbox 360 (Review Copy), PS3
★★

In the world of sports, if you aren't getting better in the offseason, you're getting worse.

Case in point: the 2012 Lions returned all 22 starters from their 2011 team. The Lions' front office staff felt confident that the same group of players who got into the playoffs as a wild card and got bounced in the first round would become Super Bowl contenders the following year. After a 4-12 debacle of a season, the Lions learned that stagnation equals regression.

By comparison, the 2013 Tigers, after a trip to the World Series - something which many teams would be content with - made key upgrades in the offseason to improve their chances of reaching the championship round again, and this time winning it all. It's not a roster overhaul by any means, but the Tigers continue to make sensible moves to remain competitive, such as allowing Delmon Young to walk away to make room for a healthy Victor Martinez as the designated hitter; acquiring Torii Hunter to patrol right field and add some pop to the number two spot in the batting order; and locking up Anibal Sanchez to maintain one of the most feared pitching rotations in the American League.

In the world of sports video games, this same adage holds true. And in this analogy, the Lions represent Major League Baseball 2K13 and the Tigers represent MLB The Show 13.

Here's an excerpt of a conversation that probably took place in the executive offices of both the Detroit Lions and 2K Sports after their respective 2012 campaigns: "Well, guys, last year was pretty good. Not great, but definitely, solidly good. No doubt about that. So...let's release virtually the exact same product and make people pay full price for it again next year!" Essentially, this is what 2K13 is: the exact same game from last year, aside from its updated rosters, yet it still costs a full $60. Granted, it's still a good game overall, and its signature analog pitching system is still superior to The Show's more traditional system. But dated graphics and the lack of any novel upgrades makes this feel like a bargain bin title mistakenly placed on a full price rack. Of course, for Xbox-owning baseball aficionados, this is the only option.

Playstation 3 owners can rejoice in knowing that, like the Tigers organization, Sony works hard to put a championship-caliber team on the field each season. MLB The Show 13 includes a variety of subtle tweaks and adjustments to make improvements on what was already consistently regarded as one of the best franchises in not only baseball, but all of sports gaming. Crisp, realistic visuals and spot-on audio create an authentic, immersive ballpark atmosphere. A revamped, slightly more forgiving hitting system makes this year's edition more accessible to newcomers, while also adding more realism to the game. The new hitting system leads to more contact at the plate, which can lead to some intense pitcher-batter duels, but doesn't necessarily mean more hits or home runs. Instead, the adjustment simply adds some balance to a dynamic that previously had favored the pitcher. A scaled-back Beginner Mode has also been added to get rookies up to speed, and throwing mechanics on defense have been tweaked. The highly-addictive Road to the Show mode returns, as does The Show's biggest flaw: extended load times. The long delays can be annoying, but the overall quality of the game at the end of the load screen makes the wait worthwhile. | RDW

  • Share

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Playable

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Tomb Raider
Square Enix
PS3 (Review Copy), XBOX 360, PC
★★★★ 1/2

Prequels and origin stories can be a polarizing thing. Oftentimes, the rush of seeing the beginnings of our favorite heroes is offset by the realization that deep down, you already know how this story ends. That's not to say a game's narrative is so confined that you still can't tell an altogether new story while still staying true to continuity, though it's often in that fine line that dictates the story or game's success. Ask George Lucas. Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom? Awesome. Star Wars Episode 1-3? Terrisuckballs. So, where on the Lucas prequel-o-meter does Tomb Raider's Lara Croft stand? Okay, I know you can't hear me, but if you could, you'd be whistling the Indy theme too.

If you've played any of the previous Tomb Raider games, you know that in the vein of the previously mentioned Indy, Lara is the capable and sure hero that makes you believe archeology involves more pistol headshots than previously thought. It's easy to see that if you trade the boobs and booty shorts for a smartass attitude, Lara in particular, and Tomb Raider in general, is practically the blueprint for Nathan Drake and the Uncharted series. Well, we won't be playing super heroine Lara here. What we get is a younger, inexperienced and untested Lara. We follow her as she grows from a scared girl into the fearless, almost supernatural presence we're more familiar with. By design, that experience isn't always pretty. Lara gets her ass kicked... A LOT. She's been thrust into an impossible situation, and she has the bruises to prove it. As the story goes along, you follow her while she hones her skills, and realize that all of her skills and abilities truly came from a will to just stay alive.

As mentioned earlier, Uncharted took many cues from the Tomb Raider series and improved on several conventions. It's here that Tomb Raider takes a couple plays out of Nathan Drake's playbook, namely the control scheme. And the game is far better for it. By going into the past, Tomb Raider fixes maybe the biggest problem that had plagued the series. In previous games, it was always difficult to believe how able Lara is, because she controlled like a tank. In short, Lara controls like a dream now. She may be inexperienced in accomplishing the impossible, but when you control her, it's easy to see that she's more than capable of it. Gunplay feels solid, with a well-implemented weapon upgrade system. You'll quickly grow to love her bow and arrow, which appears to be the video game weapon of choice for late 2012 and 2013. There are fantastic set pieces throughout the game, which add to the grandness of the story being told, with the tiniest bit of survival horror thrown in for measure (several of her death animations are eerily reminiscent of Dead Space's presentation). This is a terrifying situation for Lara, and the game illustrates that. All's not perfect though. Several points of the game devolve to a quick time event, also known as 'press triangle to not die.' Though failure does lead to some unintentional lulz with the death animation, it's a feature that could easily be left in the past.

Lara Croft has had a long and storied journey, from the queen of video games, to being deposed by a younger and smarmier adventurer. For the woman who's seen it all – who's even come back from death – going to where it all started was a stroke of genius. In a way Tomb Raider functions as a Tabula Rasa, because from here on out, this is the Lara we want to play, and the foundation laid here is fantastically strong. | RDW

  • Share

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Playable

Posted By on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Crysis 3
EA Games
PS3 (Review Copy), Xbox 360, PC
★★★

With technology being how it is, we, as modern gamers could possibly be spoiled when it comes to the graphics department, since in this day and age, EVERY game looks, at the very least, good. Yup, we're spoiled because nowadays, rarely are game visuals spoken about unless they're laughably bad or ridiculously good. Since the original Crysis is pretty much the benchmark for deciding if your gaming PC's graphic card was incredibly powerful or not, it really shouldn't be a surprise which end of the spectrum Crysis 3 falls. What would be a surprise is that despite the series having a ridiculously obtuse and confusing storyline (thanks Crysis 2), this entry actually has a taught and engaging storyline to go with all the pretty graphics.

Taking place some 24 years after the events of Crysis 2, you are Nanosuited super soldier extraordinaire Lawrence Barnes, a.k.a Prophet. Woken from suspended animation, Prophet finds a different world than the one he remembers. The previous Crysis games involved a war with an alien race called the Ceph, of which their technology is the basis of Prophet's Nanosuit. Twenty-four years later, the war is largely over, and the humans have won. The only Ceph left on earth are sparse and have gone feral, more akin to wild animals than an invading alien race. In the wake of the war, corrupt corporation CELL has taken control of the previously devastated New York (you played Crysis 2, right?) erecting a giant nanodome, essentially turning The Big Apple into a greenhouse. While assisting an anti CELL resistance group, Prophet teams up with old squad mate, Psycho (from Crysis 1) a former Nanosuit user himself, which was forcibly removed by CELL. All the while, Prophet keeps having visions of the Alpha Ceph, a giant alien that he alone can destroy. Focusing primarily on Prophet, Psycho and Psycho's current commanding officer, Claire, Crysis 3's storyline is a taught and well thought out affair. Considering previous protagonists, Nomad and Alcatraz were largely (and in Alcatraz's case completely) silent, Prophet's portrayal and characterization in Crysis 3 is a high point.

As previously mentioned Crysis 3 is a beautiful looking game. Melding the jungle setting of the first game, with the urban setting of the second, the literal urban jungle setting is a visual tour de force... accomplished with Cryengine 3 (the same engine used in franchise cousin Farcry 3.) As pretty as a game is though, it's not worth a damn if the gameplay isn't up to par. To that point, Crysis 3 is... okay.

The Crysis franchise has always been known as a more open-ended shooter than many of its contemporaries (yes Call of Duty, I'm lookin' right at you.) Allowing you to tailor gameplay to your preference, most objectives could be accomplished either though stealth, or by a full on frontal assault, with both options proving viable. Through the use of cloaking – or by using a personal shield called "maximum armor"– your ability to blend in with surroundings, or soak up insane amounts of damage as well as the ability to go back and forth on a whim allowed you to tackle challenges according to however you're feeling that day. Operating in a sandbox environment (though more limited than the full open world of the aforementioned Farcry 3), multiple routes could be taken to accomplish your goals. While that type of freedom is great, the gameplay still feels lacking, primarily due to the fact that a very important aspect of the first person shooter feels neglected... the shooting part. Most guns are difficult to tell apart, and none feel particularly satisfying, save one, and it's not even a gun. The new and aptly named Predator Bow is an absolute blast to use. Teamed with cloak, and the nano vision ability, you can live out all your dreams of being the *ahem* Predator. Unfortunately as fun as stalking the tall grass picking off your enemies Predator style is, it also takes out most of the challenge of the game. All things considered, Crysis 3 is too easy. And while overall improved from the previous games in the series, also lacks a standout battle found in those same games.

Crysis 3 is a pretty darn good game, which in this case is actually unfortunate. Because two thirds of the formula that is Crysis 3 is fantastic. The visuals look great and the storyline is much more intriguing and engaging than expected (making up for the clusterfuck that was Crysis 2's story). It's a shame that the gameplay is merely only good. Because this is a case of good dragging down the great. | RDW

  • Share
Submit an event

© 2014 Real Detroit Weekly, LLC | 615 S. Washington Ave (2nd Floor), Royal Oak, MI 48067 | RSS


Website powered by Foundation