Adventure Time: Explore The Dungeon is, of course, a dungeon-crawling hack and slash based on the hit TV show. Unfortunately, it’s missing a lot of the charm or funniness of the show due to the fact that most of the dungeon crawling has shockingly little dialogue or difference in weapons in the early levels to keep you going. For a game by WayForward and about Adventure Time, it’s pretty incredible just how barebones the game is at the start. It easily takes a good 20 hours just for the gameplay to get good enough to be entertaining on its own, and the bulk of the game from then on is still based on look-alike dungeons. The unlockable characters do provide a lot of fun, but the game is so heavily geared towards leveling up the stats of each character, you’ll be replaying those first 40 levels over and over again just to make your favorite characters viable choices. Now, this could easily be Stockholm Syndrome talking, but I loved this game after spending some real serious time with it. If you like the show at all, definitely give this a try, just go in with realistic expectations.
This has been a heavily RPG laden year for me. It seems like almost every game I played and really stuck with was an RPG. Given that there were so many high quality RPGs this year like Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, it’s totally understandable. DD:DA is amazing. It starts out pretty dry, but the rich combat system and the genuinely funny and epic parts of the game shine through pretty quickly. The game’s party system relies on player-made characters called pawns, and after some time with them, I’m amazed that no other game has ever allowed me to make a party character that always does exactly what I want. With my pawns doing what I need them to do, I’m free to do whatever the hell I want in battle without worrying about having to resurrect members or pick up items or pretty much anything. As long as you know how to play, you’ll adore these little AI sweethearts. Though, since you won’t be worrying about your battles, you’ll likely be wondering how long it’ll take to get your characters out of rags and actually into cool outfits. You like real-time action RPGs? Good. Buy this. You’ll thank me later.
Being that a new generation is here, it’s no surprise Insomniac decided to bring its second biggest franchise into the future by sending it off with a bang on the PS3 with Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus. The first thing you’ll notice is that the animation in the cutscenes is downright incredible. Seriously, the levels of quality in the cutscenes are almost like something out of a Pixar film and even feel like a movie right down to the setup and presentation of the story (no doubt having something to do with the R&C movie on its way). After that, you’ll likely notice that the story is not really up to par with the rest of the series, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering this game acts as a bridge much like Quest for Booty did, but it’s still decent enough. The new weapons and Clank platforming levels are pretty great, too. If you’ve ever been a fan of the R&C series or third person shooters in general, you’ll love this game. My only real beef is that the graphics look so much better than past games that it makes it seem like this game is more “next gen” than any of the other R&C games we saw on PS3.
Doom 3: BFG Edition is the ultimate edition of Doom 3. It also includes the original games, which is great if you’ve somehow never played them before. They’re still pretty fun to run through. Unfortunately, they took out Doom 3’s co-op feature from the original Xbox version, and the amount of framerate drops present in this iteration seem ridiculous. Why does this game have so much screen tearing considering how old it is? The graphics haven’t aged well at all, and the story isn’t just boring but somehow manages to feel almost nonexistent. This isn’t a surprise, because I do remember it being rather barebones at its release, but it is something to keep in mind when looking at the game in terms of what we are used to in today’s FPS offerings. The gunplay is also pretty disappointing as the only real difference in the feeling of the guns is how fast they shoot. While still somewhat fun, I can’t suggest playing this version over the PC one. If you’re looking for the best version of Doom 3, just buy it on PC and get some mods for it.
Batman: Arkham Origins is the kind of game that you go into knowing exactly what to expect. Because it never really deviates from or exceeds those expectations, it’s kind of a disappointment given how great the last two Arkham games have been, but that’s not to say it’s bad at all. Arkham Origins has all of the villains and really cool moments that you could want, but because it’s a prequel, there are some things missing (scanning to answer Riddles and Oracle) that end up being really missed. The fact that most of the assets from the game are reused from Arkham City and the freaking ridiculous amount of glitches make this game feel a lot like the Dead Rising 2: Off the Record of the Arkham series. Luckily, the story is awesome enough that it makes up for any problems you may have. Now, the coolest feature this adds to the Arkham series is multiplayer. The multiplayer pits two gangs (one led by Joker, one led by Bane) against two players playing Batman and Robin and plays like the beautiful love child of Gears of War and Star Wars: Battlefront. If you like either of those, you’ll LOVE the multiplayer in this.
The addition of Crackdown-like super powers in Saints Row IV has completely changed the way the game is played. Because of super speed and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, you have no problems getting around quickly. While that may make the game sound kind of small, the simulation that you’re trapped in has so many cool little things to find that it’ll take quite a while before you lose your eagerness to explore. The writing once again is top notch. Not only is the game hilarious, but there are also some genuinely cool and maybe even epic moments this time around, an experience no doubt helped by vice president Keith David backing you up. My only real complaints about this game are that it’s kind of short, it’s incredibly clear that it was originally meant to be an expansion for Saints Row 3, and there are some straight up awful glitches. I’m not talking about the tongue in cheek “glitches” they throw at you now and then, either. I’m talking about the crappy glitches that mean you have to restart your console. It’s pretty annoying, but the game is so good that they won’t even be able to keep you away.