shortgamereview.com http://shortgamereview.com Short Game Reviews Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:00:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The Room Two http://shortgamereview.com/room-two-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/room-two-review/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:00:02 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=4071 The Room Two is a beautifully crafted 3D game with a relatively simple premise: solve the puzzles to escape the room. The story continues on from its predecessor (aptly named The Room), where you are tracking down the discoverer of the “Null” element. However, The Room Two is considerably larger [...]

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The Room Two is a beautifully crafted 3D game with a relatively simple premise: solve the puzzles to escape the room. The story continues on from its predecessor (aptly named The Room), where you are tracking down the discoverer of the “Null” element. However, The Room Two is considerably larger than the original: the puzzles are trickier and require more parts; you can move between sections of a room and each level is in a different location, with an ancient temple, a ship’s cabin and an extremely creepy séance room, to name a few.

There is such a richness to this game. The detail to wood grain and worn brass, for example, is extraordinary and does much to make you forget that you’re just poking at an iPad. There are also items that don’t impact on gameplay but add to the overall feel of the game. For example, the séance level has sepia photographs with the faces scratched out, but look different when viewed through the mysterious Null lens. The music is subtle, but works to produce a sense of unease. If you’re playing this alone at night, it can get pretty eerie.

As far as mechanics go, this game really takes advantage of its touchscreen capabilities. You swipe to open a drawer, turn a key, and double-tap to zoom in. Precision is essential to the game: if you misclick, you might miss an essential piece. Looking at objects from all angles is vital to progressing, and you really do feel clever when you solve a part of the puzzle.

Storywise, The Room Two comes up a bit short. You know that solving puzzles will bring you closer to unleashing terrors of Lovecraftian proportions, but it’s never explained why you’re trapped in the room. Additionally, games in this genre have diminishing replayability value. Once you know (and remember) how to solve the puzzles, it becomes less immersive and fun. However, given the intricacies of the challenges, and how beautifully realistic the game is, it’s still worth unraveling its mysteries a second time.

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Five Nights at Freddy’s http://shortgamereview.com/five-nights-freddys-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/five-nights-freddys-review/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 14:52:10 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=4943 Five Nights at Freddy’s is an indie survival horror game that puts you in the role of the recently hired night-shift security guard of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. The main feature of the restaurant is a band of robot mascots entertaining the children during daytime. At night they switch into free-roam [...]

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Five Nights at Freddy’s is an indie survival horror game that puts you in the role of the recently hired night-shift security guard of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. The main feature of the restaurant is a band of robot mascots entertaining the children during daytime. At night they switch into free-roam mode which makes them behave quite differently…

You have to survive five nights (12 AM – 6 AM) while these animatronic monsters are coming for you (two “bonus levels” can be also unlocked). You won’t find the usual hide-and-seek mechanics of the survival horror genre here. The minimalistic controls only let you close the doors or switch on the lights on either side of your office and you may check out the security camera screens. All of these activities drain power and you have limited battery life so you have to find the balance between stopping the mascots from getting you and dying in the darkness after you have wasted all the juice.

Let me warn you: this game is quite unforgiving! Enemies have their own behavior pattern which is randomized every time. They also become faster and more aggressive as you progress in the story. They will jam your doors, disable cameras, run into your office or sneak inside before you lock yourself in. While the game builds heavily on jumpscares it’s not easy getting used to and still makes you panic in no time. You are desperately trying to manage your resources and avoid a screeching animal attacking your face but the power’s at 20% and there are still three more hours to go…

The rudimentary graphics mostly consist of still images except for the attack scenes but the clever use of noises (e.g. footsteps, the robots groaning, humming or playing music) makes the fact that the mascots only move when you aren’t looking really unnerving.

While the source of danger is revealed immediately there’s also a hidden, much darker lore in the game which can be pieced together from the phone calls you get from another employee and newspaper clippings appearing on walls. Still, it leaves many questions unanswered which is a great idea. If you like psychological horror and don’t mind dying more than a hundred times, get this game!

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Halo 3: ODST http://shortgamereview.com/halo-3-odst-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/halo-3-odst-review/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 15:00:37 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=4923 In anticipation of Microsoft’s release of The Master Chief Collection later this year, here’s an oldie but a goodie!
Halo 3: ODST’s story places the player in control of The Rookie, whose role it is to find his squad in various parts of New Mombasa. The environment is large and sprawling, and [...]

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In anticipation of Microsoft’s release of The Master Chief Collection later this year, here’s an oldie but a goodie!

Halo 3: ODST’s story places the player in control of The Rookie, whose role it is to find his squad in various parts of New Mombasa. The environment is large and sprawling, and missions can be played in any order. Additionally, audio files strewn around the city unlock helpful weapons caches.

The map can be confusing due to its size and repetition, and the HUD only shows the waypoint as the crow flies, whereas The Rookie can’t travel in a straight line. The VISR mode is a valuable feature, outlining enemies, allies and items in different colors. However, switching between the map and VISR, and trying to fight off enemies can get a bit fiddly.

Storytelling in ODST is engaging and works strongly to show the vulnerability of the squad. Finding items for each squadmate triggers a flashback mission to show their fate, which cleverly allows the player to play different maps in a way consistent with the narrative. Having human protagonists does well to subtly show how rich the Haloverse is, and just how pervasive the Covenant is.

While ODST is of the high quality I expect from the Halo franchise, it is predominantly a rehash of what has gone before. Although the story and characters are new, the gameplay itself hasn’t evolved. Fans might enjoy exploring what the game offers, but some encounters seem tired and overdone.

Co-op is also available for the campaign, but, like other Halo games, both players take on the same character. Other multiplayer maps are available for PvP and Firefight, both online and locally. Firefight is a fun challenge that requires teamwork, as lives are collectively shared, and it really feels satisfying to survive waves of Covenant soldiers.

Overall, ODST is a solid contribution to the Halo franchise. It doesn’t offer much that is new, but there’s enough in the story and multiplayer modes to make it worth revisiting.

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Tearaway http://shortgamereview.com/tearaway-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/tearaway-review/#comments Sun, 17 Aug 2014 15:00:52 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3983 It’s difficult not to be immediately charmed by Tearaway. It’s colourful, vibrant visuals and pleasing, tuneful soundtrack is enough to appeal to the child in all of us. It reminds you of a time when gaming was a simpler joy, before achievements and trophies and the annualised generic FPS, there [...]

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It’s difficult not to be immediately charmed by Tearaway. It’s colourful, vibrant visuals and pleasing, tuneful soundtrack is enough to appeal to the child in all of us. It reminds you of a time when gaming was a simpler joy, before achievements and trophies and the annualised generic FPS, there existed the humble platformer that gave us happiness from simply completing the journey from A to B, defeating obstacles along the way.

Not only does Tearaway therefore appeal to our inner child, but it encourages us to express that side of ourselves, especially the creative aspect. This is achieved through the game’s wonderful ability to not only stimulate creativity to help create a game world that is entirely our own, but by giving you objectives centred around coming up with new designs for many of the NPCs and environments. This side of the game is not only brilliantly fun but immediately accessible. I myself am not creative at all, yet I found cushions in my living room to make a very handsome squirrel coat.

This imaginative aspect of the game is beautifully complemented by the gameplay which makes wonderful use of the Vita’s many excellent hardware features that many titles have so far not been able to make significant use of, including the front and rear cameras, the touchscreen and the rear touchpad. Unlike many of the other titles that Vita has to offer which are great in their own way, Tearaway does a superb job of utilising these hardware features without feeling like a gimmick. It feels very much like the features were designed with this game in mind and it would be wonderful to see more games on the Vita use them in a similar way.

These are just some of the wonderful aspects of Tearaway but the overall impression it leaves is of a beautiful, unique game that the Vita needs to see more like. In such a dreary, often miserable real world, Tearaway is a colourful, musical breath of fresh air that provides a wonderful escape that will be difficult to top for a long time.

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Watch Dogs http://shortgamereview.com/watch-dogs-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/watch-dogs-review/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 15:00:19 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=4146 When I saw Watch Dogs’ first trailer back in 2012 it was a welcome change after Assassin’s Creed games: while obviously sharing similarities with the AC series, the contemporary environment of Chicago and the hacking features seemed intriguing. Lots of hype preceded the postponed release of Watch [...]

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When I saw Watch Dogs’ first trailer back in 2012 it was a welcome change after Assassin’s Creed games: while obviously sharing similarities with the AC series, the contemporary environment of Chicago and the hacking features seemed intriguing. Lots of hype preceded the postponed release of Watch Dogs. Was it worth waiting? Maybe…

In this reality Chicago is connected utilizing the ctOS system which is claimed to eliminate crime by prediction of human behaviour (but is being secretly used for espionage and brainwashing). The protagonist, Aiden Pierce loses his six year old niece in an assassination attempt following a botched electronic bank heist. A year later still seeking revenge, his main weapon is a customized smartphone used to hack any device connected to the ctOS network.

Gameplay-wise Watch Dogs has sneaking, shooting, driving (with a bullet-time feature called Focus) and – of course – hacking which is a fun addition but it mostly consists of finding something “hackable”, and holding down X while looking at it. Making steam pipes burst, controlling traffic lights or shaking off the police by raising bridges is fun for a while but becomes boring eventually.

It is also disappointing that at some car chase scenes you have to use hacking because it isn’t possible to stop your target or lose your tail any other way. Pedestrians on the streets can be targeted as well, letting you steal money or other goodies and accessing some amusing or interesting personal data. Driving around Chicago is fun, but don’t expect serious physics here. Boats, cars and bikes are all available, aircraft being an exception.

Side missions like stopping a serial killer, putting an end to the auction of women or hacking into private apartments are also entertaining for a while but I finally lost interest because they don’t have much diversity and tend to become repetitive.

I played the Xbox 360 version so the allegedly downgraded graphics of the game were even less detailed. Still, I found it aesthetically pleasing despite some ugly details. Though lacking realism, Chicago is filled with life and is an interesting place to explore.

Those who expected Watch Dogs to be another GTA might be disappointed and it isn’t a milestone in the history of video games either. I found the main storyline a little shallow but the ending credits imply a sequel (possibly set in another city) so this may be the not-so-perfect beginning of a successful franchise.

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The Wolf Among Us (Episode Five) http://shortgamereview.com/wolf-among-us-episode-five-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/wolf-among-us-episode-five-review/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 09:00:49 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=4022 The Wolf Among Us presents as a cel-shaded Law and Order episode, with a lot less law. You play Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of Fabletown—a neighborhood in New York for the inhabitants of fairy tales. There are murders to solve, and justice to dispense as you see fit. While I’ve played through the whole [...]

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The Wolf Among Us presents as a cel-shaded Law and Order episode, with a lot less law. You play Bigby Wolf, the sheriff of Fabletown—a neighborhood in New York for the inhabitants of fairy tales. There are murders to solve, and justice to dispense as you see fit. While I’ve played through the whole series, the focus of this review is on its closing chapter. (A review of Episode One is available here.)

Episode Five picks up right where Episode Four left off, with Bigby facing the game’s antagonist, the Crooked Man. Player choice is a key mechanic of a Telltale game, and almost immediately your decisions will affect how you fare in a confrontation with the Crooked Man’s goons. Combat is fast and furious in this episode, and there are several opportunities for it, including an extremely satisfying boss fight where we see the full extent of Bigby’s abilities as the Big Bad Wolf.

It’s fitting that the final encounter with the Crooked Man is done with your words, not your actions, determining the outcome of the standoff. This scene is where the gravity of your past choices start to become clear. There’s a clear commentary on social justice and morality, but much of it appears contrived and anticlimactic, after all the combat. Do we really think that the residents of Fabletown would just end up as an angry mob? Why are only the members of the Woodlands present? While it might be useful to have the ensemble remind us that they’re in the game, the scene comes across as undermotivated.

Despite the shortcomings in this episode, it should not be missed. It is an unflinching ending to a wonderfully gritty ride. The final twist in the epilogue is wickedly clever, and, like The Walking Dead, suggests that there is more to come. Although Telltale is currently working on Tales from the Borderlands and a Game of Thrones adaptation, leaving the ending open suggests that we might see more of Fabletown in the future.

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Killzone: Mercenary http://shortgamereview.com/killzone-mercenary-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/killzone-mercenary-review/#comments Sat, 02 Aug 2014 09:26:58 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3993 To my great shame, I’ve not played any console based Killzone games, so I’m unsure of how the Vita’s first in the franchise stacks up. As an FPS in general though, particularly as handheld shooters go, it’s a great first shot delivering the console quality Sony always promised for Vita.
Mercenary’s [...]

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To my great shame, I’ve not played any console based Killzone games, so I’m unsure of how the Vita’s first in the franchise stacks up. As an FPS in general though, particularly as handheld shooters go, it’s a great first shot delivering the console quality Sony always promised for Vita.

Mercenary’s graphics are undeniably gorgeous, particularly for a handheld game. Using the same engine as Killzone 3 for PS3, the various mission environments and multiplayer maps on Vekta and Helghan are wonderfully detailed and feel console quality, delivering a brilliant shooter experience that the Vita has yet to deliver with any other title. To have an experience on handheld comparable to a console FPS is definitely a step in the right direction for the Vita.

The experience is complemented by Mercenary’s excellent gameplay. Mercenary makes great use of the Vita’s touchscreen to compensate for the lack of secondary shoulder buttons for grenade throwing, sprinting and melee kills. Mercenary also utilises an excellent upgrades system that ties into the story nicely. The more kills and headshots etc. a player gets throughout the missions, the more money you get for your efforts, which can be spent at ‘Blackjack’s Armoury’, checkpoints in each mission placed there by Blackjack the Arms Dealer, with purchases being available for both your single and multiplayer profiles.

For all of Mercenary’s positive points, however, it is still marred by minor faults. The campaign is fairly short despite attempts to increase replay value by including various contract types, where you replay story missions with much more specific objectives. However these objectives feel aimed at very elite FPS players and require many plays to figure out routines in order to complete them, but the faults with these missions are made up for by Mercenary’s excellent multiplayer modes which do wonders to increase replay value.

Overall Killzone: Mercenary is a fine shooter, particularly for a handheld title. It delivers a console quality experience tarnished only by a few minor issues, making it certainly worth a purchase for Vita owners.

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Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare http://shortgamereview.com/plants-vs-zombies-garden-warfare-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/plants-vs-zombies-garden-warfare-review/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:15:44 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3974 Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is a fun game that continues the humor seen in past Plants vs. Zombies games. The game focuses mainly on online multiplayer with many competitive modes and one co-op mode. Exclusive to the Xbox one is the ability to have local split-screen of just two people, and [...]

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Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is a fun game that continues the humor seen in past Plants vs. Zombies games. The game focuses mainly on online multiplayer with many competitive modes and one co-op mode. Exclusive to the Xbox one is the ability to have local split-screen of just two people, and what is called “Boss mode.”

The only co-op mode, Garden Ops, lets up to four people online play as the plant classes to protect their garden from ten waves of zombies, with the fifth and tenth waves being boss waves. The enemies that appear on these boss waves are determined by a slot-machine system. The competitive modes are “Team Vanquish” and “Gardens and Graveyards” which are like team deathmatch modes, and Battlefield’s rush mode respectively. The competitive modes have two types each. One type allows any unlocked character/class variants and weapons, while the other mode, listed as classic, restricts these to just default classes and weapons.

In order to rank up your characters and overall level, you have to complete challenges given to your characters. To unlock other classes and weapon upgrades, you have to buy sticker packs with coins earned in-game. To give an idea, playing Garden Ops on solo (changing from public access to private) earned me over 1000 coins for winning all ten waves, Team Vanquish usually gave one or two thousand, and Gardens and Graveyards gave anywhere from one thousand to over ten thousand depending on how my team and I did, so buying the most expensive pack at 40,000 coins doesn’t take long.

My family and I are huge fans of the first Plants vs Zombies game, and that is the main reason I got this game. I understand that there are limitations to some things, but ending up with max of two on split-screen disappointed me.

At the time of writing this article, Garden Warfare is still a fun little game that I will continue to play when I take a break from other games. The game is worth the price for those that like third-person shooters, and enjoy the humor that comes with the Plants vs. Zombies games. I look forward to seeing expansion packs or additional content and future updates.

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Blackguards http://shortgamereview.com/blackguards-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/blackguards-review/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:00:01 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3946 Do you remember the days when video games were sprawling with complexity and slightly confusing level-up options? Blackguards is a turn-based RPG that seeks to evoke the deep strategy and intricacy of games such as Baldur’s Gate and Dragon Age: Origins. Unfortunately, Blackguards is in some ways a [...]

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Do you remember the days when video games were sprawling with complexity and slightly confusing level-up options? Blackguards is a turn-based RPG that seeks to evoke the deep strategy and intricacy of games such as Baldur’s Gate and Dragon Age: Origins. Unfortunately, Blackguards is in some ways a study in why video games have moved on.

Blackguards starts with the main character in prison, falsely accused of murder. There are some hints of an interesting antihero story, but the people who put you behind bars are so comically evil that there’s no question you’re simply a standard video game protagonist.

The voice acting is wonderfully overdone - the evil bailiff laughing maniacally, the main character with a confident protagonist voice, and the dwarf companion with the same, vaguely Scottish accent shared by dwarves throughout fantasy video games. The voices do a good job of supporting the story, but they’re so over the top that one wonders if Blackguards is simply poking fun at games that take themselves too seriously.

The combat is clearly where most development time was spent. While towns in Blackguards are essentially menu screens with a pretty picture of a town in the background, every combat encounter takes place in a full 3D environment. The battle-field is a grid of hexes, and characters take turns consisting of a move action then one attack or item use, clearly taking several pointers from Dungeons and Dragons.

Blackguard’s skill system is even more retro - the weapon proficiency for longswords is completely separate from the proficiency for fencing swords. It’s often hard to tell if the skill points you spend are making any difference in gameplay.

Blackguards captures the subtle complexities of many older games, but doesn’t do much to set itself apart from the crowd – the story and setting are clichéd and overused, and the combat isn’t fresh or engaging enough in itself to recommend the game. It’s a solid experience, but what today’s gaming market needs.

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Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag http://shortgamereview.com/assassins-creed-iv-black-flag-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/assassins-creed-iv-black-flag-review/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 07:00:19 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3928 Well, what can I say about the much-needed breath of fresh air that is Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag? Finally, Ubisoft has released the next installment that gives the series a fresh new feel. Black Flag sees new protagonist Edward Kenway on a journey to become the most feared pirate on the [...]

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Well, what can I say about the much-needed breath of fresh air that is Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag? Finally, Ubisoft has released the next installment that gives the series a fresh new feel. Black Flag sees new protagonist Edward Kenway on a journey to become the most feared pirate on the Caribbean seas in this highly entertaining adventure.

You will see Captain Kenway accepted into the Assassins Guild, and trained along the way by the likes of the feisty, yet mysterious James Kidd, AKA Mary Read. There are so many fantastic elements to this game, both great and small. One of the best is having the ability to commandeer your own ship, The Jackdaw. Edward’s ship is crucial to explore the vast open-sea and to plunder the countless amounts of enemy ships (Which is, may I add, the reason as to why I keep getting distracted from the main storyline).

Speaking of the main storyline missions, this is for me, what lets the game down ever so slightly. This is only because they seem difficult, especially some of them should be so simple to complete. It’s probably because I’m not a good enough assassin but on most of the missions, I’ve had to play them over again. Although the missions are hard, it’s not made any harder with the mechanics, which make the free running almost flawless.

All this being said, one thing that cannot and will not be overlooked is the sheer beauty of Black Flag. The gorgeousness is just never ending, which is of course a good thing. The thing I’m in awe at the most is when I am sailing the seas with my crew and a whale or a dolphin does a flip out of the water.

There is so much substance to this game, it is nigh on impossible to cover everything. One thing I do love though: being able to pet all of the cats to my heart’s contempt.

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