Category Archives: Game Reviews

Brutal Legend PC Game Review

A review of Brutal Legend purchased for Steam on a Windows PC.  Brutal Legends was produced by Double Fine Studios and released by EA.  I just quit playing at the last level of the game because I couldn’t take anymore.  This review covers what I liked and what I didn’t like about the Brutal Legend game.

The story and characters are amazing.  It feels like a movie or Saturday morning cartoon.  The cutscenes drip of quality.  The story and story telling is really fun, and this is coming from someone who has no idea who these rock guys are.  I loved every minute of the story telling parts.  Really fun, with plenty of depth and twists to keep things interesting.

Atmosphere is nailed.  Some of the nicest environments I’ve ever seen in a game.  It feels spooky when it should feel spooky, and cool when it should feel cool.  The graveyard drive is a particular highlight of the game for atmosphere.

Voice acting is something I would like to mention here.  It’s voiced by the world famous Jack Black.  Now, I’m not the biggest fan of the guy, but I like him more for doing this voiceover.  He nails the role of the protagonist like no one else.  His voice, and mannerisms, are perfect for a rock group roadie guy.

The story, cutscenes and atmosphere are grade A+ quality.  This is some of the best a game could possibly hope to reach.  Now, on to the gameplay.

It is generally agreed that the gameplay of most Double Fine Studios games is terrible, especially when considering it’s amazing story telling depth.  And Brutal Legend is no different.  Brutal Legend has three gameplay parts to it.  Third person combat parts, driving elements of the game and the strange RTS thing.  I’ll cover each of these below.

The third person combat parts are surprisingly the most fun sections of this game.  It’s just button mashing, with a bad camera, and it’s fun enough with lots of options to choose.

The driving part should be cool, but isn’t.  You drive a cool car, it has machine guns attached to the front and nitro out of the back.  You can affix various gadgets to the car to make it cooler.  It ticks the boxes of awesome.  But it’s floaty.  And floaty cars NEVER work in a game, and don’t work in Brutal Legend either.  You never feel tight with the car, and this would be ok.  Except…

There are timed driving sections.  Yes, you heard me right, timed driving sections in a floaty car.  Nothing is more frustrating than timed driving sections in a floaty car.  Every restart is not YOUR fault, it’s the games fault, but you get punished for it.  Clipped a rock and flipped your car?  Your fault game, not mine!

Finally, the weird RTS element.  It starts of good, but becomes hectic, fast.  And hectic with a third person view and a bad camera do not make a fun game.  And I was playing on easy because I just wanted to enjoy the storyline.  The end of the games requires around 5 repetitive RTS matches one after another.  And it will annoy you in seconds, to the point where, like me, you will quit playing Brutal Legend out of sheer frustration.  Grinding is never fun.

I think the core part of why Brutal Legend has such bad gameplay is that you get punished for mistakes you could not avoid.  Mistakes that were the games fault.  It wasn’t you who chipped the rock and flipped the car during the timed car mission. It was the floaty game controls.  That and grindy RTS and third person gameplay make the game a chore to play through just to get to the amazing story line continuation cutscenes.

Overall, I would pay $3-4 for Brutal Legend.  Any more than that and you will feel some regret once you quit playing.  Having said that, the Brutal Legend story and atmosphere are exceptional, best of class material.  Real triple A cuban stuff.  But trust me, that grind will wear you down.  It’s hard to give a score to Brutal Legend so I won’t.

You will stop playing Brutal Legend before the end, the question is how long will you last.

Sleeping Dogs Review

Sleeping Dogs: The best story driven open-world game you will ever play

  • 25 hour+ main storyline and side missions
  • 4 mission DLC packs available for around $1 each
  • Winner of Nerdr best voice acting in a game, best story in a game and best open world game

Sleeping Dogs is a game you just need to play to appreciate.  The graphics are amazing, with high res textures available for free through Steam.

I’ve never seen a game look as good as the night scenes in Sleeping Dogs.  Your jaw will drop as you see the lights of artificial Hong Kong reflect in the pools of water as the rain falls.  This game is special and dirt cheap to buy (I got it for $5, with each DLC around $2).

You know how your jaw dropped when you saw the graphical quality of the Just Cause 2 world?  Seeing Sleeping Dogs is like that.  The developers (United Front Games) chose world map density over size (I’m looking at you Skyrim!) and it shows.  The world is full of quality at every turn.

Immersion is just perfect.  The night market is FULL of 100’s of shoppers and life, something missing in modern open world games.  They really nailed the immersion out of the park in Sleeping Dogs.  The location, the story, the people, it’s just so absolutely perfect.  The people speak Cantonese, just like real Hong Kongers.

If you’ve ever visited Hong Kong you’ll see the sights and sounds right there in the Sleeping Dogs.  Now the world map is not a 1:1 of HK, but it contains the 4 main blocks, including central and connects them in an interesting style, including known landmarks like the Hong Kong exhibition center.

Intrusion 2 – Steam Indie Game Review

As part of a Humble Bundle I found Intrusion 2 in my Steam game list. Here is a quick review/critique of what was good and what was bad in the game. Intrusion 2 was developed by Aleksey Abramenko and the Intrusion 2 metacritic score is 80/100. The Intrusion 2 game is a 2D platformer shootem-up, similar to Metal Slug on the old Neo-geo console.

This is a random critique, just spilling out my thoughts on the game.

The graphics are…dated. I don’t mind that they are retro 2D, but here they’re slightly worse than Metal slug graphics. Getting the graphics right for a 2D platformer is a core feature. Metal slug has 2.5D graphics art and the art fits the game perfectly. Intrusion 2’s graphics are nice…but not Metal slug 3 nice. The screen also feels “empty” when compared to Metal Slug 3. I would recommend adding more floating papers and general junk to the scenes, nice weather effects would be an easy feature to add to increase the immersion and atmosphere of the game.

Animations/motion in Intrusion 2 is slightly jerky, again I compare it with the butter smooth Metal Slug. Gravity is floaty and the damping is off. Because of this the controls don’t feel “tight”, which is something hard to get right but it pays of big because it’s something that is always in the game (and once you get the controls right you can copy and paste into sequels).

Bullets collisions are not accurate, which ruins immersion. Sometimes they vanish when hitting the middle of a sprite, sometimes the side. They feel like something pulled out of gamemaker.

Music is good and follows the game well but lacks the “rock of action” needed in 2D shooting platformers. Sounds effects are acceptable, but sound muffled and lack punch and excitement like streets of rage. I want my speakers popping. Lack of big explosions.

Enemy variety is great, there are many cool enemies with unusual attack patterns. The Box-2d physics used makes for some cool fighting. For example, when you take out a jetpack man he will spin out of control (in 2D). Imagine how cool it would be if he spun out in 3D…flying towards the screen or back into the background with some sprite scaling? Something to think about for Intrusion 3.

Shooting enemies is also not as “tight” as Metal slug. In metal slug, you shoot an enemy and you KNOW you’ve shot them. In Intrusion 2, there is no or very little feedback that your shots are even hitting. For feedback I would have liked visual + sound effects. This lack of appropriate feedback when hitting is the same flaw found in Gears of War 3 and Crysis 2. Without feedback or instakill when shooting bad guys it ruins the experience and immersion of the game. In metal slug, 1 or 2 shots are enough for most enemies and you get instant graphical and sound feedback. I’d like to see the same in Intrusion 2.

A tiny intro story would be a nice feature. Nothing long or expeditionary, just a simple paragraph of text to explain why I’m shooting at aliens. A good story adds context to a game and is valuable for very little extra work.

Overall, I LOVED metal gear solid and finished every game in the series, but I’m sad to say I didn’t like Intrusion 2. It just felt like the game was not polished enough. This is a shame because the content is there, just waiting to be played, and it’s great. Awesome variety of enemies, interesting puzzles and great 2D physics. But Intrusion 2 is let down by…lack of polish or lack of playtesting.

Final verdict – I would pay $1 for Intrusion 2 out of a maximum of $5 for 2D shooting platformers. This score comes from metal slug already existing as a perfect example in the 2D platformer market and being available practically free and in multiple versions. Although the value of 2D platformers is low the impulse buyness of games like Intrusion 2 is high. If it looks nice I’ll easily drop $3 without thinking on a game with Metal Slug 3 style graphics.

I would drop $10 on a Mirrors edge 2D clone or a clone of the scarecrow steps 2.5D scene from Batman Arkham Asylum. I think using modern, more realistic graphics is a big area that 2D platformers could move into and win big. The core gameplay in these games is already proven, looking nicer is a great way to get an extra unique selling point.

Sleeping Dogs DLC Review

I just finished the four main Sleeping Dogs DLC packs for missions.  Here’s my quick review of all of them.  I purchased all the DLC packs on a 75% off sale, so they were around $1 each.  At that price, all the DLC are of course worth it, but some are more worth it then others.  This review covers my reasons and which I would choose if they were more expensive.

The DLC packs with multiple missions are:

  • Nightmare at North Point around 15 missions.  Select this DLC from the main menu.
  • Year of the Snake around 15 missions.  Select this DLC from the main menu.
  • Wheels of Fury 5 missions.
  • Zodiac Tournament around 10 missions on a separate island.