shortgamereview.com http://shortgamereview.com Short Game Reviews Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:15:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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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Forza Motorsport 5 http://shortgamereview.com/forza-motorsport-5-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/forza-motorsport-5-review/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 07:00:42 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3917 Forza Motorsport 5 is a racing simulator game that puts you in the seat of a professional driver. There isn’t really a set story or anything to the game, you just go to race after race trying to get gold in every event. Not every event is a strict race though. There are head to head races with or [...]

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Forza Motorsport 5 is a racing simulator game that puts you in the seat of a professional driver. There isn’t really a set story or anything to the game, you just go to race after race trying to get gold in every event. Not every event is a strict race though. There are head to head races with or without traffic, knocking down giant bowling pins, passing as many cars as possible in two laps, and plain races.

Personally I have played and enjoyed the Forza Motorsport 2, 3, and 4 games, so I was not very surprised with this game. I will say that I was amazed by the change from using programmed computer AI to an AI (called “drivatar”) that learns to race like other people to use as your racing opponents. Another use for this it that the computer learns how you drive and then places you in other races when you are not online in effect having you earn credits while not even online.

The minimum number of races you have to complete before the game gives you a drivatar is 4 races or so, but the game learns with every race to maximize the similarity, or synchronization, to your style. I have raced over 100 races and have a “synchronization” somewhere around 45% just to get an idea.

I really like the feel of racing actual people without having to go online, and online multiplayer can be set up with just drivatars. This was very helpful when I played a few races online with my cousin since we didn’t have to worry about finding a full room of people or listen to any trash talk.

My favorite thing about Forza 5 is that your opponents are first filled by your friends list that have a drivatar, so it is like I am racing my cousin in every plain race I participate in. This does lead to some friendly competition and laughs when I get a text complaining about something my drivatar did in game.

Overall, if you enjoy racing games, I would highly recommend adding this Forza to your game library. There are many events that are fun to play, many different options and challenges for online, and many cars to look at and admire. My only complaint is that as of the last time I played, the marketplace wasn’t open and I couldn’t gift a car like in the other Forza games. 

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Gomo http://shortgamereview.com/gomo-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/gomo-review/#comments Fri, 31 Jan 2014 08:00:51 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3888 Curiosity drove me to Gomo. I was enthralled by the game’s quirky aesthetics — and its awfully sully premise was a big plus— but as the proverbial cat who reached a fatal end, I would have been wise to stay away from the object of my curiosity. This is not to say Gomo is a bad game, because it [...]

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Curiosity drove me to Gomo. I was enthralled by the game’s quirky aesthetics — and its awfully sully premise was a big plus— but as the proverbial cat who reached a fatal end, I would have been wise to stay away from the object of my curiosity. This is not to say Gomo is a bad game, because it isn’t. In fact, Gomo is a fairly decent — if a little straight forward — point-and-click adventure: the mechanics work, the story serves its purpose, and the team at Fishcow Studios, never fell into the genre-trap of making puzzle solutions too obscure. It’s all very functional… and nothing more.

It only took me two hours to complete the main campaign and find the three hidden objects needed to open the bonus whack-a-mole stages. Two hours isn’t a whole lot of time and yet, when the credits rolled, all I could think of how meaningless the experience felt.

To be fair, all my grips with the game may be caused by the simple fact that (and this is just a hunch) I’m not part of Gomo’s intended audience. I get this feeling particularly from the game’s lack of challenge. Every answer to a puzzle is right there, in front of you, almost shouting and pointing to itself.

Add to this the goofy animations, a story that features an alien abducting your dog for a ransom, and a great amount of slapstick humor, while lacking any kind of character development, sentiment or stand. It all hints at a product developed for a young audience.

For the most part Gomo is a decent point-and-click adventure game. It never stays away from genre conventions and it never tries to, opting safety over risk. When looked through the eyes of a child new to gaming the game’s design and challenge makes sense; without that filter, all falls apart: it is too easy, too short, too conventional and too conservative. A month from now I won’t remember Gomo.

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Wooden Sen’Sey http://shortgamereview.com/wooden-sensey-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/wooden-sensey-review/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 09:10:04 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3852 Jumping around and killing things is, for some indeterminate reason, the core mechanic of a large portion of video games today. Wooden Sen’Sey is an indie platformer set in a vaguely Japanese world. The intro cutscene was a bit difficult to understand, but I got the general idea that an alien [...]

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Jumping around and killing things is, for some indeterminate reason, the core mechanic of a large portion of video games today. Wooden Sen’Sey is an indie platformer set in a vaguely Japanese world. The intro cutscene was a bit difficult to understand, but I got the general idea that an alien entity had attacked my village and stolen all the liquor. It’s not a bad way to start a game, and certainly less stereotypical than a princess being carried off by a large turtle.

Fluid controls and colorful environments make the game a joy to traverse, with the exception of a submarine section with clunky movement and only one type of attack. Another surprising thing in Wooden Sen’Sey’s vibrant expression of Japan is the uninspired enemy design. A majority of the baddies are simply black blobs with eyes— it almost feels like the artists ran out of time.

Combat in Wooden Sen’Sey is solid — equipped with God-of-War-esque axes on the ends of chains, smashing and slicing enemies is smooth and satisfying. Throwing your axes at certain ceilings allows you to swing on the chains, providing an intuitive and enjoyable traversal mechanic.

The real difficulty in Wooden Sen’Sey isn’t in the combat, though — sections of precision platforming and very lethal environments present a good challenge for the experienced platformer, but also have the potential to really slow down the experience for those enjoying the combat aspect. This game has a slightly archaic ‘lives’ system, and dying enough times results in restarting the entire level, a very frustrating experience.

Wooden Sen’Sey isn’t revolutionary, but it is still, at points, fun. Combat and traversal are enjoyable, and the platforming, while sometimes overly challenging, is at least satisfying to complete. What it lacks in polish, it makes up for in spirit. This game won’t change your life, but it will fill your afternoon.

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Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood http://shortgamereview.com/assassins-creed-brotherhood-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/assassins-creed-brotherhood-review/#comments Thu, 09 Jan 2014 07:00:27 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3863 Another year Assassin’s Creed fans eagerly waited for the next installment after re-living Ezio Auditore da Firenze’s memories in Assassin’s Creed 2. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood picks up where it had left off as Desmond Miles is once again put into the Animus. The story continues in Rome as the [...]

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Another year Assassin’s Creed fans eagerly waited for the next installment after re-living Ezio Auditore da Firenze’s memories in Assassin’s Creed 2. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood picks up where it had left off as Desmond Miles is once again put into the Animus. The story continues in Rome as the easily likeable Ezio seeks revenge on the corrupt Borgia family, after destroying the Monteriggioni villa and murdering his uncle.

Although there is only one region to explore in the game, (as opposed to five in AC2) Rome is actually huge! Ezio can still free-run his way around the city and canter about on horseback in the surrounding countryside. Some cool stuff has been added to Brotherhood both great and small such as extra side missions, including one about the girl who Ezio once loved. Also, even little things like getting special objects in the treasure chests alongside money is good because you can use them for the all new shop quests to get more essentials.

Even though the game has developed from AC2, some elements remain (roughly) the same. You still have the ability to synchronise viewpoints but now have the fun of infiltrating the now called Borgia towers to claim back Rome bit by bit. (This reminded me of the outposts in Far Cry 3)

Character upgrades are still available as you progress through the game. If you want to get some new gleaming armor or a skull-shattering War-hammer, it’s all there for Ezio to enjoy. Brotherhood quite literally builds from the upgrade element seen in AC2. Now you can restore shops, aqueducts and buy landmarks. As long as you take out the Borgia towers first.

The gameplay is still superb and what sets it apart is that you have your own Brotherhood members who you send out on assignments. They in turn gain XP and money, so you can eventually level them up to become an assassin. You can even summon them to kill some bad guys when you get into a spot of trouble. Woohoo!

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is the fantastic follow-on from Assassin’s Creed 2 that everyone expected and deserved. Get it!

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Teslagrad http://shortgamereview.com/teslagrad-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/teslagrad-review/#comments Mon, 06 Jan 2014 07:00:15 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3837 Teslagrad is an amazingly unusual game in which there is no dialogue at all. The game starts with a guy carrying a baby to a house, leaves it with a woman, and then walks away. Some interval of time passes and one rainy night some guys in red storm the house. That is when you take control of a [...]

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Teslagrad is an amazingly unusual game in which there is no dialogue at all. The game starts with a guy carrying a baby to a house, leaves it with a woman, and then walks away. Some interval of time passes and one rainy night some guys in red storm the house. That is when you take control of a young boy, presumably the baby that was dropped off, and have to escape to an old tower.

Once in the tower you find a glove that lets you charge certain boxes or creatures with energy to turn them red or blue. The basic concept of the game is you must utilize an electromagnetic principal of opposite charges, or in this case colors, attraction. While this sounds easy, the game is far from it.

Teslagrad seems to be a game that many will/should play, but only a few will get lots of enjoyment from it. Some puzzles are just so complex that they take a while to figure out and many, many deaths result. More annoyingly some puzzles and boss fights are quickly figured out but are so difficult to achieve exactly what needs to be done without dying and having to start the fight over.

The controls for me were a bit odd and took some getting used to. I noticed that it has partial controller support so maybe using a controller would make it a tad bit easier. I can’t count how many times my character died because the control was just a bit off of what I wanted to do.

The music blended perfectly with the game and was icing on the cake of a beautiful game. The graphics aren’t realistic/live action, they are obviously hand drawn but are stunning. With no dialogue, I feel that you are forced to be just as lost as the character you control and interpret the story how you want.

There are areas around the map where some back story is acted out in a steam-punk looking “puppet-show” which you don’t have to watch, but I always looked forward to watching. Thankfully when you are standing still for a couple seconds in these areas the game zooms in so you can see the whole thing and all that happens.

I will say that if you have lots of patience and willing to restart puzzles repeatedly, then this game is well worth it and you should go buy it now. Otherwise, find someone that will let you watch them play so you can experience this exquisite game.

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The Novelist http://shortgamereview.com/novelist-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/novelist-review/#comments Tue, 31 Dec 2013 07:00:59 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3817 Dan Kaplan is an aspiring writer who decides to leave behind his everyday life and go on a summer vacation. Living in a coastal house for the next three months along with his wife, Linda and his son, Tommy he tries to overcome his writer’s block and finish a masterpiece while attempting to fix his [...]

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Dan Kaplan is an aspiring writer who decides to leave behind his everyday life and go on a summer vacation. Living in a coastal house for the next three months along with his wife, Linda and his son, Tommy he tries to overcome his writer’s block and finish a masterpiece while attempting to fix his marriage and be a good father. However, someone is waiting for them: you are also present as some sort of ghost, capable of influencing people’s minds and reading thoughts.

This interactive story can be played in stealth mode which means you have to hide out of sight or you may scare a member of the family, losing some of the available choices. Hiding in lamps makes this quite easy so it’s almost pointless. Story mode lets you float around freely, exposing yourself without consequences.

Gameplay is quite simple: every week you must discover the house and by finding clues and reading the Kaplans’ thoughts you get to know their wishes. Some events like unexpected visitors or an opportunity for Dan make these decisions important. Basically, you decide between Dan’s writing career, rediscovering their love with Linda (who also has an ambition of becoming a painter) or spending time with Tommy.

Finding all three choices, you may also choose a compromise with another family member. By selecting an object relevant to your choice you advance time to midnight. You may decide to compromise or not then whisper in Dan’s ear to complete the chapter. You get the results of your decisions in the form of a few short paragraphs. At the end of each month some more text describes the way the Kaplans’ lives have changed.

The Novelist’s visuals are quite modest but in this case they have no significance. The melancholic piano music heard throughout the game is really good and I also liked the voice of Dan and Linda reading some letters and diary entries.

I think everyone comes to a point in their lives when they have to make decisions similar to Dan’s in The Novelist. That is why this game is so moving and it easily makes you think over your real-life choices. It starts to get a bit boring after the third playthrough or so as most of the text and clues remain the same. Still, it is an interesting example of story-based gaming.
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A Walk in the Dark http://shortgamereview.com/walk-dark-review/ http://shortgamereview.com/walk-dark-review/#comments Tue, 24 Dec 2013 07:00:10 +0000 http://shortgamereview.com/?p=3800 A game that could be described as Limbo and Super Meat Boy’s lovechild, it is all at once very hard and visually stunning. A Walk in the Dark has you playing mostly as Bast, a cat, who for reasons not quite explained must run through stages of increasing difficulty avoiding spikes, traps and the [...]

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A game that could be described as Limbo and Super Meat Boy’s lovechild, it is all at once very hard and visually stunning. A Walk in the Dark has you playing mostly as Bast, a cat, who for reasons not quite explained must run through stages of increasing difficulty avoiding spikes, traps and the myriad of creatures seeking to do him harm, Bast’s gameplay is that of a pretty standard platformer, you can run left or right, jump and even perform a wall to wall jump. You know the drill.

However as Bast you also must complete Cave levels in which you are constantly moving right, the jump button now instead changes gravity making Bast stick to the roof or the floor, these stages are easily the most difficult and caused the most frustration.

The other playable character in a Walk in the Dark is Emily, Bast’s owner who, in the opening seconds, is taken by some rat-demon-thing who’s origins or motives are not really explained. Emily’s levels behave much the same as Bast’s Cave stages, however instead of being stuck constantly running forward you have control over left and right again making them slightly easier than the Cave levels.

The game is artistically amazing, with the opaque characters in the foreground complimenting the beautiful backgrounds all the while soft piano music adds to the sense of mystery the game creates. It can at times feel very long due to its 100 levels many of which seem quite similar but also because the harder stages in the game seem to make it drag out even further.

While a Walk in the Dark is definitely difficult it starts off pretty easy but quickly ramps up until a certain point where it seems to almost plateau for quite a while and the only thing the game does to make it more difficult is to add more and more spikes to each level.

If the regular levels are not quite hard enough for you then there are challenge levels to sate your thirst for difficulty, by collecting the ‘shinies’ found in each level you can unlock challenge stages which seem at first glance impossible, then at second glance just very, very, very hard. These levels are extremely challenging but also really rewarding once you manage to complete them, even if you tear out most of your hair getting there.

A Walk in the Dark is a fun game with a distinct art style and lots of levels. Definitely worth a try!

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