Friday, May 31, 2013

Review - Metro Last Light

Metro Last Light is a continuation of the sleeper hit Metro 2033, a video game based off the somewhat popular novel by the same name. In 2013 there was a huge nuclear war, leaving Moscow deadly irradiated and its surviving inhabitants seeking shelter in the Metro under the city. 

20 years later we meet our hero, Artyom, a stoic and silent protagonist, with a rather questionable mental health. However his hallucinations and recap between chapters helps establish some characterization, although he's neither a blank slate for players to interpret nor a fully fleshed out character, somehow it works thanks to excellent writing and directing.

Story wise, this game is basically an explanation as to why the alternate ending of the first one was better, seriously. The story of this game is like a painter painting a mural using 200 smaller really, really pretty pictures, then stepping back and going "...Shit...", discovering that the whole is a story already told.

The story of the original ends in two different ways; (spoilers from Metro 2033, skip down a paragraph to avoid)  the 'normal' ending sees Artyom launching a barrage of missiles to wipe out all dark ones. The alternate ending however shows Artyom realizing that the dark ones are only trying to peacefully make contact via hallucinations. (Spoilers end)

So the entirety of the campaign in broad strokes and relevant to Artyom is all about "you got the wrong ending, this is what you should have gotten instead and why". Everything else happening around him seems unimportant to the protagonist and his recaps shows the soldier in him following orders, yet ultimately seems uninterested and pushed asides as politics not important to him compared to the main theme of the story.

The story works and you never feel burdened by too much at once, something i often say is that you can have a great story with bad pacing and it completely buries it, but you can have a mediocre story with perfect pacing making a fantastic experience, and every small part, or segment of the story in this are perfectly paced and enjoyable.

Pavel, friend or foe?
The voice acting in this is awkward, for some reason it seems absolutely everyone in the metro has a Russian accent, "but this is happening in Russia" you might say and you would be right. What is curious is that, people named Khan, and Hunter or a whole group of Germans also has a Russian accent, trying to simulate a German accent... It's pretty bad.

It can be reminiscent of other games like Heavy Rain. The acting itself has some standouts, like comrade Pavel, whomever voiced him should give themselves a pat on the back. the nuances and emotions really come out in that character, his fear, cockiness, overconfidence, indecision, a superbly directed and performed character.

The stealth mechanics come back proudly from the previous game with a fresh haircut, looking better than ever. And although the A.I. is vastly improved from the last game, shooting out a light and picking a high dark corner allows you to clear entire rooms in your own time while they run around like headless chickens. 

The shooting and guns in the game feel appropriate to the story and setting, with a nice weight to them, but in the end the currency itself steals the show. Buying anything from vendors require military grade bullets,  but these also offer a substantial tactical advantage on some harder parts where you can use them as ammo instead.

The sound and atmosphere are what really makes Metro Last Light stand out, the setting and colorful design, varied locations and somber soundtrack. It sucks you right into itself and you can easily find yourself losing hours, just wanting to see what comes next before turning the game off, but there's always something coming next.

Game score: 3.5/5
The game is thoroughly enjoyable and engaging, improving on many things from its predecessor. some weak voice acting and some standing out in a great way and a story that ultimately just sums up why the ending forced on us from the previous game was 'the wrong one' even if you got the alternate.

Party like it's 2033

Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: Resident Evil Revelations (PS3, Xbox 360, PC & WII U)

Resident Evil Revelations is a port from the 3DS release in early 2012. Now, a year and half later, we get the highly praised game on all consoles.

Resident Evil Revelations comes fully polished and upgraded from its original release. The cinematic looks gorgeous and it stands shoulder to shoulder with the best looking entries in the series. However, The lack of a sprint button has not gone unnoticed, but that could arguably have added to the tension when you try to run past monsters, conserving ammunition.

Get the fishes to jump on land and enjoy a relaxing target practice

Resident Evil Revelations gave us a distinct feeling of the early PS1, thanks to the 'find a key to open a door to find a key' style of play, but done very well in this game. When you do find a key with the relevant symbol, you think back to a door or a safe you found early on and choose to go back, often rewarded with a new weapon part or a weapon in general.

Another thing that helped was how the game used its location. Just like the very first game, there seems to be way more rooms in this ship than you'd think space would allow, and you really get the feeling that you are exploring every nook and cranny, there's even a 'hidden' area full of bonuses, but you have to actually remember to revisit it to get the loot.

Just like the first game, the location itself seems to be a character in the game, ever changing around you and it even has a finite number of enemies. When you take the time to clear the way back to a door you now possess the key to unlock, all enemies you dispatch will be gone when you return later for a story mission. Unless there has been a natural evolution of enemies, then new types appear everywhere.

About to become a very wet 'Jill Sandwich'
The story is so-so, taking a backseat to the thrills and hoarding of the gameplay and unfortunately not really standing out, in short, our heroes are lured on the ship by a bio terrorism group called Veltro that was supposedly wiped out the previous year. Knowingly or not, lines like "I think they're here for you, because you're such a flirt" are reminiscent of the first game's "Jill Sandwich" and feels more like a wink at the audience than a serious, rather than a misguided attempt at serious dialogue.

The voice acting is cringe worthy at times, whether it's about Parker being unable to decide on a Russian or Scottish accent, or Quint's high pitched squeaky voice. There is a remedy to this however, because in options, language can be set to Japanese, making the dialogue flow way more smoothly and voices suit the character better.

The big draw for us, however, is the online raid mode. Our favorite inventory system was from Resident Evil 5 with a hoarding mentality, playing early chapters over and over to hoard ammo and treasures, and have them carry over, now we can have that plus a coop mode with friends over the internet, with challenges and unlockables galore.

Game score : 4.5/5
"Truly a return to form for the Resident Evil series" - Gameviews Editor Tommy Karlsen

Gameviews recommendation: 85%

This is a complete and full release of the best Resident Evil game since Resident Evil 4, at half the price, absolute only reason not to buy this is if you have it on 3DS or survival horror / third person shooters don't appeal to you.

Raymond - Badass - also, totally not a bad guy