After the many complaints about the first game, I expected The Amazing Spider-man 2 to be spectacular. Beenox had put a ton of work into Spider-Man games and TASM1 was nearly perfect aside from its heavily borrowing elements from the Batman: Arkham series, so you have to wonder where they went wrong in development. The character models and story are horrible. Not only is the story bad, but it doesn't make much sense due to the fact that they gave the first game's story a soft reset due to focusing more on TASM2's movie story and doesn't bother to reintroduce characters from the first game at all. A terrible story isn't necessarily death though, as good gameplay can save a game. Unfortunately, that is not the case with TASM2 as the gameplay is glitch ridden and stale. The one change made to the web swinging (your web must attach to buildings now) feels like a major hindrance and the fact that Spidey continually comments on the fact that his web needs something to stick to is all the more maddening. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 could have been a great game and the fact that another Spider-Man game probably won't be made for quite some time takes this game from being a flop to being a tragedy.
At first glance Paparazzi doesn't make much sense. You pick a random celebrity and run around the game world while a camera bounces around the screen snapping pictures of you. When it happens to land on you, it causes you to lose dignity and the Paparazzo to gain cash. As someone that always thought the purpose of being a celebrity was that you didn't have any dignity, the objective of the game was confusing to me, but as I began to understand that your goal is actually to keep your dignity by dodging the camera it became a lot more fun. Littered across the game's maps are crowds of people, houses, cars, trees, all sorts of great stuff to hide behind and the simple sort of top down view by which you play makes it incredibly fun to hide and strategize where your next hiding spot will be. Hiding spots may not seem like a big deal, but on the higher difficulties they are a godsend. You will also run into loving fans that boost your dignity and grab crazy power ups that turn you invisible or send out copies to throw off the Paparazzi. This may sound crazy considering it's so simple, but Paparazzi is the best stealth game I've played in recent memory. If you're at all in the mood to play something that's fun and simple (or lets you play a circus Bear), then this is the game for you.
Do you like top down brawlers and lots of class build variances? If so, you will love Grand Class Melee 2! GCM2 starts out asking you to pick one of four classes after which you face off against the three classes you did not pick and as you battle throughout numerous rounds you slowly rank up and tweak your character's build. This may sound like it could get tedious, but the rounds are all so short and hectic that they don't get old very easily, add to that constantly editing your class and you have a game that continually has a super fresh feeling to it. Now, overall design of the arenas that you battle in is rather lacking as it is merely a simple topdown view of your pixel art characters fighting in various cliché fantasy settings, but given that the game is still in beta I would expect that to be made better by the time the game launches. The only real problem I have with the game is that sometimes the AI will randomly become totally murderous and track you down to take you out of the game and when that happens there is very little you can do to stop it other than shaking your fist at the sky and avenging yourself in the next ten second round. If you want to try a fun and different indie game then Grand Class Melee 2 is definitely a game that you should check out.
I haven't been playing as many indie games over the last year, so I haven't been paying as much attention to what's coming out and I'm thankful because it leads to amazing surprises like Apotheon. Apotheon is a sidescrolling adventure game that has you saving your city as it burns and then proceeding to save the Greek Gods that have deserted your people. Sure, it sounds very God of War-esque, but the Greek pottery art style and wonderful combat sets this so far apart from anything else I've played. The combat is surprisingly intricate. What begins as a simple slasher quickly evolves into a careful strategy as the game drip feeds you more and more complex ideas on how to handle more powerful and dangerous enemies. The best part is that the game teaches you all of this while you're starting out experimenting with the best way to use weapons and shields and it never once gets in the way of what you're doing. It's actually quite amazing, the game never becomes intrusive while conveying information and keeps a beautifully simplistic and clean look through everything. The combat and art style isn't all to be impressed with either, as the platforming and random looting is also really good. If you're looking for fun and maybe something different, Apotheon is definitely worth a shot.
Do you remember those cheap shovelware third person shooters that were all the rage around twelve years ago on the PS2? They sucked, right? Well, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is exactly that. The story makes almost no sense and throws you in at the climax of the most recent movie with no backstory or introduction and instead just plays Monkey in the Middle by tossing you back and forth between the Autobots and Decepticons just over the head of the story. This honestly wouldn't be so terrible if it wasn't for the awful gameplay, though. Shooting is the exact same as the shooting was in the last two Transformers games (no surprise), but traversing the game's environments is mind numbing. Your character is so slow that the game feels like it drags and not even changing into your vehicle form makes you move faster. Neither of those things would be terrible if the environments looked nice, but all textures frequently disappear and even when they don't the game presents such a drab, generic look that there might as well be nothing on the screen at all. On top of that, the game is filled with audio bugs and numerous glitches that end with you falling through the world constantly. Unless you are a diehard Transformers fan, steer clear because this game is in no way worth your time.
Putting Rayman in an auto-runner felt a little blasphemous at first, since this guy's been in some great platformers in the past. Why relegate him to cheap mobile gimmicks? Fiesta Run lays the in-app purchases on pretty thick, too, but the game can still be played and enjoyed without plunking down real dollars. You can buy power-ups by collecting lums the normal (long) way, or forgo power-ups completely and beat the levels like a man! The levels are actually pretty fun and creative, given the limitations inherent to auto-runners. All of the wall-jumping sections and hidden lums help the game stay fresh. This honestly feels like a miniature version of Rayman Legends, and it is equally gorgeous. Just be aware that lower-end devices are gonna struggle at times to keep up with the graphics. If your device can handle it, though, the action is beautiful. And if you're able to collect all of the lums on a level, then a harder, alternate version of said level opens up. That's where the real challenge is at. Taking these harder levels into consideration, Fiesta Run has a solid amount of content that will keep you busy for days. It may take a few levels to warm up to Rayman's new "controls," but stick with it, and you'll be glad you did.
What a disappointment. Just when I thought Nintendo was finally going to do something interesting with its old properties, NES Remix turns out to be more of a highlight reel than a "remix." I do like the WarioWare approach where you play bite-sized retro challenges back-to-back. Let's not forget how far video games have come since the NES days, though. Most of the games here control like ass. The Mario Bros. challenges are particularly frustrating, because subsequent Mario games have improved his movements in so many ways. Hey, I'm susceptible to nostalgia as much as anyone else, but games like Mario Bros. and Ice Climber do nothing for me. They've always been hard to control. The coolest parts in NES Remix are the actual remixed challenges. Here, the game puts a unique spin on an old classic, like making you play a Super Mario Bros. level in auto-run mode or... replacing Mario with Luigi in Donkey Kong. Such innovation! Seriously, the majority of the remixes are pretty tame, and the package as a whole feels like a missed opportunity.
Even the horniest teenage boys won't have the patience for Supreme League of Patriots. The humor is painfully juvenile, turning every little thing into a sexual, racist, sexist, or homoerotic innuendo. Many of the jokes center around taking potshots at the dim-witted protagonist, Kyle. These insults are rarely funny, but they're delivered with a British accent, so they've got to be witty. Right? I'd like to sympathize with Kyle, but he is maddeningly slow. I'm not just talking about his intelligence either. The poor buffoon trudges about the game like a brain-dead troll, and talks nearly as fast too. Every attempt this game makes at being quick-witted is sabotaged by the broken dialogue system. A short pause between each line disrupts the conversational flow and makes every interaction tedious. Speaking of things that are broken, the inventory system is completely nonsensical. Belongings are interacted with via the inventory button on the top of the screen, but to equip something you have to use the inventory found by hovering near the bottom of the screen. I was initially attracted to SLOP because of its beautiful screenshots. It is a very pretty game... when it's not in motion. Animations are stiff, and characters who are supposed to be stationary tend to shift about awkwardly, like they'd rather be somewhere else. Hey, I understand. I'd rather be somewhere else too.
I'm normally all for top-down arcade racers, but something about Rock 'N Racing feels off. And not off as in radically off road. It's just not as fun as it should be. Part of that has to do with how super tiny the cars are. I can't even play on the TV; I have to use the gamepad screen to be able to see what's going on. The off-TV mode is at least a welcome feature here. And the game even supports up to five simultaneous players, so that's cool. But the races themselves are just plain, simple, run-of-the-mill affairs. No boosts. No power-ups. No satisfying collisions with other racers. I do get a kick out of seeing the AI mess up, though. It amuses me way more than it should when they spin out of control or slam into a wall. Annoyingly, however, AI racers will teleport back into place if they're stuck for too long. I wish that would happen to me. It's very easy to get trapped against a wall, and backing up to correct yourself takes forever. Needless to say, you can go from first to last place in only a second, and with no tricks to help you catch up, you're pretty much screwed. In the end, Rock 'N Racing doesn't offer enough—and doesn't do enough right—to come recommended.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is probably the hardest game I have played in the last decade. It isn't hard difficulty wise, just hard to stick with until it gets good. It attempts to mix the gameplay from Dragon Age: Origins with the graphical style and story telling from Dragon Age II. Unfortunately, for the first 5-10 hours of the game the story drags and mainly just manages to be incredibly boring. Until this game, I haven't had such a problem playing a game due to the dry story since Dragon Age: Origins in 2009. Thankfully, once you get past the initial barrier, this game gets so good that you won't want to put it down anytime soon. Everything from the characters, to the back story, to the random books in the world are filled with rich story that will fulfill pretty much every lore need that you could have while making the gameplay seem like it doesn't even happen because it's just something you're doing while listening to your group interact with you. While it doesn't draw a ton of attention while you are actually playing it, the gameplay is masterfully crafted, allowing for mistakes that would have gotten you absolutely obliterated in the first game while also making it feel like not every enemy is a pushover. Simply put, Dragon Age: Inquisition is a strange thing, because you will forget you're playing at times because it is such a good friendship and world simulator.
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