The April Lists: Video Games

In many ways this was my toughest list to prepare. What do I include in this list? The game I played once for 5 minutes? Those games probably aren’t going to be on here, I’ll probably cover it when I give it more time, unless I disliked the experience so much I won’t revisit it. Do I include social network games? I think that for at least this time I’ll pass on doing that. How do I sort through the list of games? By whether it includes a story? Or by genre? I decided that I’d go with by the system/platform that it is on. Oh and just for information sake, I’ll include the rating of the games so that people know what age group the game aims for.

PC

1. Skyrim – (Mature) Skyrim, or if you want the full title, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing game. It takes place in the province of Skyrim. You play a man or woman during a time when dragons are returning to the world. After a fight with one of these dragons you find out that you are a chosen warrior known as a Dragonborn, who can gain powers from killing dragons and learning the language of the dragons.

That may sound like a pretty interesting premise, and it is, but sadly there doesn’t seem to be much more depth to the story than that. It is a pretty straight forward plot of you being the chosen one to defeat some sort of ancient and powerful evil. However, story is not necessarily where this game shines. The reason that the story does not shine too much, is due to the focus on exploration and creation of a adventurer that fits your play style or desire. This of course kills any kind of pacing and tight narrative, but allows for more freedom. It allows for a good deal of variety just from the outset, but when you add mods for the PC version then it just starts getting ludicrous. It is probably too easy to get lost in all of the nooks and crannies in the game. Overall, just know what you’re getting into. If you’re into tightly crafted stories look elsewhere, but if you enjoy exploring a different world and its denizens well this is for you.

2. Super Monday Night Combat – (Not Rated) This is a game I just recently started playing. I played it for the first time when I went to PAX East with my brother. It is released now and even better it is free to play.

So what kind of game is it? It is type of game that has gained popularity in recent years. It is a MOBA game, which stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. The basic idea behind all of these type of games is that you are placed on one of two teams with the goal of destroying the other teams base by destroying a final objective. In this game the final objective is the Moneyball. The setting of this game is more futuristic than other MOBA games out there, with guns and robots being part of the cast. The whole game acts as though it was a futuristic sportscast including commentary from sportscasters.

I’ve had fun with this game the few games I’ve played with it, but it also has the same weakness that all MOBA style games have. It takes a lot of time and commitment to get good at these games. Learning how to play the various characters takes time, and it takes time to learn how to combat other characters. This can lead to frustration both for new players and longtime players, who often take it out on new players in less than constructive means.

3. Realm of the Mad God – (Not Rated) This is another free to play game that I’ve only played once or twice. This game is hard to describe. It is a retro, online RPG, top down shooter. If it sounds kind of crazy it is. Perhaps the best way to really see what it is like is to follow the link and look at the video for it. All I can really say is that it is fun, tough (when you die you have to start a new character), and doesn’t really look the greatest (but it’s not supposed to).

I enjoyed my time with it, but I think I really only scratched the surface with this game. I may go back to it at some point. It was definitely an interesting experience, and certainly not one for everyone.

PS3

1. Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 – (Teen) I’ll be honest with this one, this game is pretty much just mindless fun. This is really the combination of a video game series, Dynasty Warriors, and the various anime series called, Gundam. So you could argue that it has a story, but all it really does is allow you to play certain scenarios from the animes, which if you’re like me and haven’t seen all of them then you can get the basic idea, but often feel like you’re missing something.

There are various missions that you play in the game, all of which pretty much boil down to go and wreck as many robotic battle suits as possible. It’s usually pretty easy and doesn’t require much though. Which is nice for when you just want to relax and do something that doesn’t require a whole awful lot of brain power. It can get tough when you set it on hard difficulty, but it is really up to you on that. Another positive is that there is a lot of content in this game. Lots of missions, suits, and characters to play as.

The down side of the game is that it is for those who have an interest in at least one of these two worlds. If you don’t like Dynasty Warriors gameplay or have any interest in the Gundam universe, well chances are you’ll have no interest in this game. It also gets pretty repetitive. While there is a lot of content to unlock and whatnot, it doesn’t entirely matter if there is little to no variation of the content. Even with these two negatives I’ve enjoyed my time with the game.

2. American Magee’s Alice – (Mature) This is actually one of the only games on this list that I’ve finished this month. It was a third person action adventure game that was originally released for the PC, but re-released on the PS3 with its sequel Alice Madness Returns.

I had heard good things about this game before playing it, and I’m honestly left scratching my head as to why. Admittedly this could be because it was best played on the PC. Honestly though there is little to no story. The basic premise is the idea that Alice has gone insane after the death of her family in a fire. This insanity has had a negative impact on the world of Wonderland in her head. So you control Alice as she goes through a twisted version of Wonderland in a quest to save it and hopefully save herself in the process.

The game though is irritably difficult in some sections and almost laughably easy in others. The jumping and underwater portions of the game were just aggravating, but I found many of the bosses, including the final boss, to be fairly easy. This may have been better on the PC, I’m not sure, but I’m somewhat doubtful since I usually find controllers better for platforming than the PC. The other frustration was trying to aim at enemies. Many of the weapons are best used at a distance, but trying to aim them was annoying and led to a lot of deaths. So while I would call this game an interesting experience, it was not a good as I had led to believe and it is not a game I’d revisit or really recommend unless you’d like to see a twisted version of wonderland in outdated graphics.

3. Transformers: War for Cybertron – (Teen) It’s probably pretty clear by now for anyone reading through this blog that I like Transformers. This game is basically one of the best, if not the best, video game version of Transformers. The story behind the Transformers is a simple story of good (the Autobots) vs. evil (the Decepticons). The game really isn’t much more than that, except that it takes place on Cybertron, the home planet of the Transformers. You do play both as Autobots and Decepticons in the story. As the Decepticons you are attempting to find an unstable power that would allow for the conquest of Cybertron. Then as the Autobots you attempt to defend against the power of the Decepticons and take back the planet.

Admittedly, I beat the game before April and have only occasionally been playing the online multiplayer mode for the past month or two. I’d say the game is a must for any Transformers fan, but it is still an average to above average third person shooter. Admittedly, the game can look a bit bland as it doesn’t have the most impressive color scheme, but this is due to the fact that it is set on a planet that is mechanical in nature. That doesn’t really lend to vibrant color scheme. Other than that I don’t know what to say, it doesn’t really have any glaring faults that I can think of, but at the same time it is not breaking any molds. However, I am hoping that the sequel to this game, Fall of Cybertron will be even better than this one.

4. Rayman Origins – (Everyone 10+) This game is not a game I have played the most. I started playing it when my brother was visiting early in the month. Kristen got interested in the looks of it and we also played it once or twice during the month. So my thoughts on this aren’t complete, but I can give you an idea of what it is like.

Rayman is a series that has been around for awhile, but this is my first exposure to it. This version of Rayman though is a 2D side-scroller. It also allow for co-op which means you can play with up to four players simultaneously. I’ll admit it doesn’t seem to have a story to speak of. You basically go through levels collecting creatures called Electoons which allow you to progress in the game. During this you’ll also find Nymphs that need rescuing and will grant you an new power after you rescue them.

If you’re looking for a deep story, then this is not the place to look, but it is a fun game to play with a friend or three. It has nice vibrant colors and a wacky sense of humor to the game as well. Not to mention the mechanics of the game are pretty well done, jumping and running are all easy to do and are not usually too annoying. I’m sure the game probably gets pretty tough as it progresses, but so far it has been a fun experience and enjoyable for those looking for games they can play with a friend, significant other, or kid.

5. Frogger Returns – (Everyone) My guess is that most of you have played or at least heard of the game Frogger. If you have you’re probably better off remembering and playing that one than playing this one. I don’t know if you’d call it an updated version of Frogger or a sequel, but I do know that I didn’t really enjoy this version as much as I remember enjoying the older one.

For those who have no idea of what Frogger is, it is simply a game where you have to try to get your frog across a highway and river to his home. This version adds a few other levels like a subway, sewer, and swamp, but the basic goal remains the game, get from the bottom of the screen to the top.

You would think an updated version of Frogger with better graphics and new levels would be pretty cool right? Well… the reality is that it isn’t all that good. The graphics are pretty ugly although better than the original I suppose, it is hard to tell exactly where you are on the screen in line with the cars or other things coming towards you, and the detection of where you can jump seems to be off. I know many times where I know that I jumped onto a log only for the game to tell me that I died. It was just a pretty frustrating and disappointing experience. Thankfully it was game I got for free and didn’t waste too much time on. If you’re still interested in it even after that glowing picture, there is no physical version it is purchased online via the Playstation Network Store and I also think it can be downloaded for the Nintendo Wii as well.

PSP

1. Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Saga – (Everyone 10+) This is a remake of the Role-playing game Final Fantasy IV, which was released in North America as Final Fantasy II for the Super Nintendo. It also contains bonus content in the form of a sequel and intermission to the sequel. I basically got this because I remember owning and enjoying Final Fantasy IV when I was a kid and thought I would enjoy the new material too. Of course I haven’t gotten to any of it yet so I’m not sure how it is.

The basic story is that you begin the game as a Dark Knight, named Cecil, of one of the major kingdoms of the land. You are also head of that kingdom’s fleet of airships. However, in recent times you have been ordered to do things that are morally questionable. This leads Cecil to question the intent of his king and is stripped of his post and sent away on a quest. Over the course you find yourself opposed to the very kingdom that you had once served as it appears that they are being controlled by an evil figure seeking world domination by collecting artifacts known as crystals. So you and the band of followers that you find along the way set out intent to stop this evil and protect the crystals.


Final Fantasy IV is the type of RPG that I remember growing up with and that I sorely miss today. Turn-based combat, a world that was explorable, but still managed to focus on characters and story more than customization. Not to say that I don’t enjoy the RPGs of the today, but just that this type of RPG is missing in my opinion today as everything seems to shift to action based. Sure the story of this boils down the a battle between good and evil, but I enjoy the setting and the story even if it is a bit trite.

2. Corpse Party – (Mature) Now for the black sheep of my list. This game is a horror adventure game. You play as a group of high school students who become trapped in a haunted elementary school and have to find some way to survive and hopefully escape it.

Honestly, I’m not too far in this game. Partly, because I haven’t played it that much, but also because it is tough. Trying to figure out what you need to do in order to escape certain death is not always clear. So far it isn’t necessarily that scary, it is more just creepy and twisted, but there have been some tense moments as you’re trying to escape a ghost who wants to end you. So it is probably best that if you don’t like scary things that you give this a wide berth, but it is a pretty interesting game. As far as I know though, the only way to get this is to get it from the Playstation Network store as there appears to be no physical retail version for North America. On that note I should tell you the audio is in Japanese, but there are English subtitles.

So this is my list of games from the past month. It is a little more varied than my other lists. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but it ranges anywhere from the zany family friendly fare to the creepy and twisted Mature games.

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