Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Saints Row; Gat out of Hell

Pointlessly Pleasing.

   There is no point to Saints Row, Gat out of Hell. There was never a moment in the game where I felt as though my actions were progressing, changing or in any way altering any part of the game. The fun, that to be had, was over at the same moment the game was, for better or for worse.

  The game is a series of 'quests' to grow in 'power' so the hero can take on Satan and win freedom for fellow crewmates. The problem, however, is that each of the quests feels completely like the previous. Different historic figures have ended up in hell, and, as the player, you must gain their favor in order to disrupt  Hell enough for Satan to notice. But, each of the party leaders have quests that are often exactly the same as the other's. They do not, in any way, tie to the character who you are striving for the favor of, which leaves the game feeling as though you are meeting somewhat interesting characters, only to be a boring errand boy.

  In reviewing this game, I feel as though I should leave the review shorter than usual. I prefer shorter reviews, but this game simply does not have enough substance to make for a full-fledged review. The game is easy to beat, amazingly so. Doing just the main missions I was able to purchase enough powers and upgrades that Satan's boss fight was a series of freezing him and shooting when he was immobilized. After finishing the fight, I had 0 intention of going back into the game world, as further upgrades simply would have made my character far too powerful to even be remotely close to the realm of challenging and fun. This game recognizes that players enjoy the sweet taste of success, but instead of moderately giving slices of candy, this game drags a player through the entire Willy Wonka chocolate factory at an alarmingly fast speed.

  The positive, however, is the game world itself. Hell is a blast to explore in flight. Coop was tested, and it worked exceptionally well on multiple occasions in typical Saints' fashion. If there is anything that other large open-world games could learn from this series, it is making a game fun for multiple people, at once.

 Other things of note include the addition of drivable cars which seems odd, this is mostly notable because of missions where you have to drive and deliver a car to a location. This breaks the excellent flight and fight combination the game rides exceptionally well. Combat can be tricky before weapons are upgraded, but this feeling of needing to upgrade disappears when the player figures out how to acquire new powers, making most enemies a simple repetition of dodge-superpower-shoot-repeat until they die. 

   In the end, Hell is easy and fast to Gat out of. If you loved Saints 4 and wanted more, this may be up your alley. However, if you enjoyed the first three Saints' in the series, this short, 3-5 hour game may be better to Gat away from.


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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Wolf Among Us

A Monster in Sheep's Clothing
  It seemed right that I play a TellTale game. In my mind I do not like games that the narrative is the focus. Give me a combat mechanic, let me play a cool character or tell me a crazy awesome story, but don't walk me through a world you built simply because you built it, to me, that was never a game.


  The Wolf Among Us, and, the TellTale way of playing games, shifted how I was playing a game altogether. It's different. It's paced out unlike anything I have played before, with moments of complete uncertainty that teeter on the brink of downright chaos, simply because I was brash in decision- making or because, in this living, breathing world, the other characters were too fast to make their choices as well. Anger fuels some of the characters, others it's love and for a few, its protection of their own hide that is the motivation, but in the end, the symphony that is found here is breath-taking, even if only because you're holding your breath, hoping you did not completely mess something up. 

  I should note, when playing this game, I tried something unique. A friend of mine was making the choices while I held the controller and actually PLAYED the game, taking care of the action scenes as they came and, if I felt the need, making choices myself, ignoring their input. This helped alleviate some of the mental-wear that I felt I may find playing a game where each choice is carried through. I consistently play games how I see as the 'right' way, and, knowing I was stepping into a world of living characters who may hinder that was a bit much to take head on.

  It has been years since this game was released (two of them, to be exact) and it has been accessible to me all of that time, the only reason it remains unplayed was because of the episodic nature, and the content itself. I am, as I feel other people should be, exceptionally opposed to pre-purchased content. The idea that the game I am buying is to be released, in chunks, over a period of time rather than given to me as a piece, is not something seen in other mediums of art. No album is purchased with the promise that, not only will you enjoy it, you will get it periodically. Blurring the lines between television and games, TellTale is one of the few developers that I can say, in my years of watching pre-bought content burn, does it exceptionally well. Had I bought in right from the get go, I would have been incredibly excited to rip into each new chapter as they were coming out. I do not change my stance and I will not say that buying a product before we know the quality level is a good idea (that is one of the reasons why I write reviews!) but when we have someone who does something well, consistently, we learn to trust them, and I believe TellTale (and maybe TellTale alone) is earning that trust.

  In the end, the game is exciting, it is a living, breathing comic book where you get to write the next pages as they come. There were technical problems, one almost game-breaking one where my dialog was in Spanish for no reason, but the game made it easy to overlook the technical struggles in order to find a new, exciting product.


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