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Transformers: Dark Of The Moon Review

Posted by numbthumb on July 24, 2011

Dark of the Moon Review From The System Addicts

When High Moon Studios delivered War for Cybertron it reinvigorated a little part of my childhood psyche. The part I usually lock away and beat back any time I’m with anyone over the age of forty. It connected in a way that the first Michael Bay Transformers film did, too, reminding me why I spent all those afternoons as a kid crashing big plastic toys into each other. It’s simple really: robots are awesome. The original film and War for Cybertron were capable of reminding me of that. Astonishingly, the same development house has delivered another Transformers game and for whatever reason – and I’m willing to go out on a limb and peg this reason on the publishers – it’s the exact opposite of what made their past effort so grand. Disappointingly, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is just like every other licensed game.

If It Ain’t Broke, Ruin It Completely By Missing The Point

It’s clear that High Moon tried their best to stick with the formula that worked so well in their past game: You play half the chapters as Autobots and the other half as Decepticons. The big difference this time around is that there’s only about seven chapters total and some of them last no more than ten or fifteen minutes. Furthermore, you don’t choose one campaign or the other; they simply blend into each other in a rather disjointed way that fails to capture the player’s interest. Transformers don’t need to be all about story, but Dark of the Moon highlights why even just a base level competent one is crucial in making a game fun.

The story itself falls somewhere between the second film and the third, and picks up with Bumblebee in South America trying to upload a virus which will help Optimus Prime and Co. hunt down the last remaining Decepticons. The events then turn into a cat and mouse game with Autobots chasing Decepticons and Decepticons chasing Autobots, but rarely does it ever feel important or exciting. There are no wide-scale wars against hoards of reinforcements, and no fights for survival against all odds. The levels tend to be long corridors filled with enemy road-bumps that aren’t particularly taxing or creative. And even though you play as a number of Transformers they all feel rather similar, with only ground or air being the biggest change in play styles. Players should also know that for some asinine reason you get to play as Optimus Prime for a single, ten minute boss fight. That’s it. The most iconic figure of the whole Transformer universe and someone decided you should only get to play as him for ten minutes in a $60 dollar game. At least he’s fun to play, and you can use him online if you so wish. That’s a good snapshot of what’s wrong here: the issue isn’t the quality of the action, it’s the design concepts behind what’s available.

The core gameplay is mostly unchanged from the previous outing but the few changes that have been made are perplexing. You used to have two forms; vehicle and robot. Now, you have a third form called Stealth Force, which allows you to use your weapons while retaining the mobility of your vehicle form. You’ll find yourself spending a lot of time in this mode since the game defaults you to this. The only negative is that you can’t use special abilities in this mode, but it’s hardly a complaint considering you’re far more resilient to damage and have unlimited ammo, two things your robot form lacks. Since you die faster, you’re slower and you have to wait around to reload it’s almost entirely pointless to stand up and fight, which is probably that last thing you want in a Transformers game.

Sometimes, Less Is Just Less

One of the best surprises that came out of War for Cybertron was that the multiplayer modes were a lot of fun. In such a highly competitive market it’s hard for games to stand out and earn a respectable share of online players, but between the cooperative Escalation survival modes and the competitive multiplayer War for Cybertron did just that. Dark of the Moon inexplicably drops the Escalation mode altogether. You’re left with only a bare-bones competitive team deathmatch and a conquest mode. Players can pick from a number of classes, for both Autobots and Decepticons, but they’re restricted to specific Transformers within each class. The real options come in player perks and weapons that you earn while leveling up. The selection is respectable enough to make loadouts feel sufficiently diverse, but not being able to customize your own robot is still bizarre. There’s just too many instances where an entire team is Starscream or Optimus, and being able to change looks would have countered that.

Of course, aesthetics aren’t all that important when playing team deathmatch, mechanics are. Dark of the Moon online suffers from the same issues the campaign does. Stealth Force mode is still overpowered resulting in a lot of anti-climatic battles where players float around objects firing at each other. Of course, that doesn’t mean online isn’t fun. There’s something inherently enjoyable about running around as a Transformer fighting other robots. Between customizing your loadouts, special skills and the odd kill-streak perk there’s actually a very serviceable online formula here. I had a good time getting each class to the level cap, it’s just sad that the time went by so quickly. In just a few short hours I’d maxed all classes and had little elsewhere to go, leaving me no longer interested in going back online.

War for Cybertron had the problem of the massive worlds overshadowing the scope of the Transformers but Dark of the Moon suffers from putting them in uninteresting and claustrophobic locations. If there had been total destructible environments around it would have helped reinforce the reality that these are giant mechanical beings in a world not meant for them. Instead you get to destroy trivial things like boxes and cars in a world that feels noticeably small. The game doesn’t look particularly good either, with only a few cool moments of good art design scattered throughout the game. You’ll frequently be put through long driving sections, but because Dark of the Moon funnels you down straight paths with no choice of where to go they feel longer than they actually are and more boring than they need to be.

You can probably tell by now that the best way to sum up my feelings for Transformers: Dark of the Moon is disappointment. On the heels of one of the best video game iterations for the franchise this is a major step back in virtually every single way. It’s in the nature of game critique to point fingers and find where things went wrong, but I’m inclined to believe that this was off on the wrong foot before a minute of development time was ever spent on it. From all appearances this game was designed to be released alongside the third film, with no attention paid to the quality that could be crafted in such a limited time. But this is speculative and beside the point. What matters is that Transformers: Dark of the Moon The Video Game is not worth your money, fan or not and is an immense failure to capitalize on the great progress made previously in the series.

Final Score: 58%

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Brink Review (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Posted by numbthumb on May 27, 2011

Hey – wanted to re-post our review of Brink here so you know what were doing over at the main site. Enjoy.

 

Original review can be read by clicking HERE

Brink Review

by James Bell on May 17, 20110 Comments

Splash Damage pulls the pin on Brink – and, appropriately, there’s a wide area of pain coming with it.

Brink is something else. There’s an audacity about it that’s maybe only apparent to people who’d followed it a little through development. The Bethesda published title garnered some lofty expectations from past demo’s and studio proclamations. They’d boasted about the games unique online approach and the intuitive S.M.A.R.T. gameplay feature (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain). Trying to elbow your way in on the ever popular class-based shooter genre is no easy task. But, with the right foundation and depth of gameplay, Brink had a chance to do just that. Or so it seemed.

In actuality Brink is a frenetic shooter that blends elements of various cult favorites but struggles to keep them together as one cohesive unit. The flow of movement and the intricacies of teamwork are vital components that Brink mostly gets right, but then there’s no direction, and a careless attitude that permeates every facet of the package and continuously undermines the effort. The result¬† is a class based competitive shooter that some will really love but others will downright hate, and everyone will be right.

They Went in Two by Two, Unto the Ark of Noah

Brink is a class based, first-person shooter developed by Splash Damage, set sometime in the future on a floating city known as The Ark. The entire game follows two forces, deplorably named the Security and the Resistance, as they battle it out on the Ark, one side trying to escape the city and the other trying to stop them. Both sides feature their own 8 mission campaign with an additional 2 “what if” missions which players tackle in any order they choose. But the reality is that no matter what side you play those missions are the same, you just play from a different side. Considering some missions¬† can be over and done in ten minutes the entire campaign is well under five hours. The fact that you’re able to attack the campaigns in any order you choose shows just how much Splash Damage cares about the story they’ve created. It begs the question – if you don’t care about your story, why the Hell should I? Then again, you could also say there isn’t even a campaign.

 

You see, Brink’s multiplayer is the same thing as the single player, and vice versa. Whether you’re online or off you’ll be playing the same levels over and over again. The only difference is that other players can take part in the action with you and against you if you’re online. So every part of the campaign is you and bots, attempting to complete objectives, and the online is you, bots and a few other people doing the same. I say few because any more than that and you’ll be playing a two frame a second slide show wondering why it shows your connection as green. Brink has significant net-code problems and, in my experience, the game is unplayable with more than 6 players total. When it works it can be quite a bit of fun but that also depends on your tolerance for bots, especially these ones.

Brink has created one of the most perplexing dichotomies I’ve ever witnessed with a games artificial intelligence. The AI bots are the stupidest and most life-like partners I can recall playing with. They masterfully find their way over to you to revive you then look like lost puppies while sitting at an objective marker, unsure what to do or how to do it. Watching the ineptitude of your squad will break your brain, it’s like playing with a ten Jekyll & Hyde’s. Big problems arise from the four classes in the game – engineer, soldier, operative and medic – specifically the computers inability to register which one is required to complete an objective. Though the game does a good job letting you know what classes is needed during that point of a level, you’ll learn fast enough on your own or you’ll probably just fail every mission.

…”Amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.”

It should be noted that the beginning of the above quote actually starts with “Never be afraid to try something new”. Brink may have plenty of problems but it’s also a viscerally exciting shooter that puts a lot of ideas into action well enough that many will find it a worthwhile venture. Characters in Brink have an innate ability to run, jump and climb at will, restricted only by their size – players are large, medium or small – and the environmental design. The free-flowing parkour maneuverability of the characters, reminiscent of Mirrors Edge, is unlike anything else you get from other first person shooters. Splash Damage don’t do enough with it, failing to add real vertical threats to each level. Even still, it’s fun to see the difference between a skinny characters who can run in and out of battle like a bat out of Hell and a big heavy who has to rely more on the added damage he can take and not on his climbing skills.

While getting around the battlefield is fun the class-based functions of the characters is less so. Engineers come with the the ability to build and destroy specific objectives, hand out damage buffs and can build turrets. Soldiers are designed to set explosives, hand out flak jackets and adrenaline. Operatives have little use beyond hacking – even their identity stealing ability is pointless since any action committed results in losing the identity. And finally, Medics heal and buff health. That’s all medics can do, really. They are my favorite class to play but they’re wholly useless when out in the field with only AI teammates. Thought similar to Team Fortress 2, Brink doesn’t go far enough with it’s classes to make players feel secure in their chosen profession.

One element in leveling up that’s handled really well is, in fact, the experience points. You get them for everything you do, doling out health buffs, giving someone a Kevlar vest, building an MG nest or completing a primary goal. It means that players don’t always need to be the one with the most kills or the one setting the bombs. As mentioned above, I have a great time keeping my teammates healed and reviving them, ensuring we can continue to fight. So it’s a moving target for criticism. In a full game with people and bots every class can be an integral component to success. When this happens the classes are fun, varied, and do more than enough to suit players’ wishes. This praise dies on the floor of the single player game, because you have to switch classes and find yourself taking on roles you haven’t leveled up or don’t enjoy playing.

Strangely, guns and mods aren’t included in this. Brink has four challenge maps that, really, should have been tutorials – and not the video tutorial that the game lays on you at the start of the game that lasts for way too long. Those challenge rooms are the gateway to guns and gun-mods. But, after playing just two of them you’ll have unlocked the vast majority of all weapons and additions in the game. The challenges also reaffirm everything that’s wrong with the offline gameplay, as you’re tasked (intentionally) with completing objectives in a set time limit. Beating them isn’t fun, and you spend more of your time on the ground watching inefficient teammates get shot up by opponents displaying inconsistent difficulty.

Actually firing your weapons is a roller-coaster in its own right. Some weapons have strange, but effective properties that make them far more beneficial than others. Grabbing the grenade launcher and sending shots off into groups is a great strategy because it knocks enemies down. You still have to do it three or four times, or pull out your secondary weapon, because grenades are incredibly weak, something you’ll realize every time you throw one. Though you’ll have to find your flavor, there are a number of weapons that are fun and useful. Enemies soak up damage though, often requiring multiple clips from weaker guns.

Out in the Ocean Blue Yonder

I really like the aesthetic look that Brink went for but it suffers from some significant flaws. Ignoring that there are no women in this world, most characters are a strange mix of rebel-punk and PMC, drawn as caricatures of themsevles. They’re mostly cool, but I did find myself feeling like I was killing the same person over and over again. The world of the Ark is a combination of industrial junkyards and future holiday resort, with a blue shade to everything. The textures of the world aren’t overly impressive but the real problem is that they don’t always load, at least not properly or in a timely fashion. The environment ends up blurred until you run right up to objects. It’s either a massive technical failing or a terrible design choice, but whatever it is it takes a neat overall look and suffocates it.

That might well be a theme, as evidenced by the overabundance of aimless and mundane voice work that permeates every second of Brink. There isn’t a minute when you won’t hear a character yelling something. That could be cool if the dialogue handed out direction to the player that mattered, furthered a story, or was funny. It doesn’t. Instead you’ll be told that “they’ve captured our command post” or “we’ve captured a command post” thirty times a minute. And that’s just two objectives that get called out in an objective based game. During incomprehensible cutscenes, that fail to articulate the point of the story, why anything matters or who these characters are, you’ll get more than your fill of Brink’s voice work. It’s a good thing you can skip parts of it, because they play during multiplayer, too.

 

On the Brink of Almost

Leading up to the release Bethesda had us believing that Brink was a stylistic mish-mash of first-person shooters with an exotic new competitive multiplayer mode just waiting to be tapped into, backed by a single player game that would last us a good amount of time. Guess they glossed over some details. Maybe it’s our fault for taking them at their word, but that doesn’t excuse them for shipping a game at full retail price that is little more than a multiplayer game that lets you play offline with bots. To illustrate why it’s such a bogus deal, consider Section 8: Prejudice. That game offers a great 5-8 hour single player campaign and an excellent multiplayer suite for just $15. Even if you don’t buy the comparison – they’re totally different games – Brink is asking a lot of players and does far too little to justify it.

The thing is there will be a lot of people that really dig Brink. They’ll stick with it through its growing pains and be there down the road, plugging away, having a great time. That’s how it should be. But Splash Damage have created so many hurdles for the majority of gamers that it’s way too difficult to recommend. Really, Brink is just an odd experience. It has a lot of what players want and like out of games but just as many things that people despise about them. Perhaps I can sum this frustrating game up best like this: I can’t honestly recommend the game to everyone, but I’d be really happy if Splash Damage gets to make a sequel.

 

 

Final Score: 60%

60-64% – “Playable”¬†Technical shortcomings, narrative holes, or poor design choices stifle the game to the point that it’s too easy to forget about. This is for a select crowd only who are willing to overlook a lot for not very much in return.

 

http://www.thesystemaddicts.com/reviews/brink-review

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The First Templar Review (Xbox 360 & PC)

Posted by numbthumb on May 26, 2011

Hey guys, just posted our The First Templar review over on my new site. Decent little action-adventure game with surprisingly good combat and stealth mechanics. It’s also got couch co-op and online co0-op, which is pretty great. Here’s an Excerpt – check it out over at our main page – we need the support!

Thanks,

The First Templar Review

The First Templar is an intriguing game for a lot of reasons. It’s an action-adventure game following the exploits of the Knights Templar, the mystery and fear of the Inquisition and the secrets of the Holy Grail. It’s a lengthy campaign that takes you over diverse environments and tells a surprisingly well laid out story that culminates in an epic and satisfying finale. It smartly includes online/offline co-op that work really well with the games two character system, tempered only by the fact that it isn’t drop in, drop out. The action is also broken up with puzzles that utilize both players effectively, made simple and intuitive with a stay/follow command for anyone playing alone.

But it’s also intriguing for a lot of other reasons, namely that the developer, Haemimont, is better known for strategy games like Grand Ages: Rome, Imperium Romanum and the 100-hour stealing Tropic 3 (my favorite strategy/city builder ever). It’s fairly bold for a developer to step in a totally new direction, and in a genre now dominated by much, much larger developers and publishers. It speaks volumes of the talent involved that the result is mostly positive but it also provides some proof that smaller teams and limited budgets betray the full potential of certain projects. If you aren’t the sort that empathizes with these types of gaming realities then you may have a harder time enjoying The First Templar than those that do.

http://bit.ly/mR82yj

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Got a Gears of War Beta Code to give away

Posted by numbthumb on May 7, 2011

Got a free Gears of War 3 Multiplayer Beta Code to give away – just head over to our new site and just leave a post in the giveaway thread if you want it and I’ll draw a name sometime Saturday night or early Sunday and send it through PM or E-mail. Get it quick before the Beta expires – it’s a ton of fun.

http://www.thesystemaddicts.com

If you’re not a fan of clicking links – just google The System Addicts and navigate from our mainpage to the forums:

http://forum.thesystemaddicts.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=169

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Crysis 2 Review!

Posted by numbthumb on May 3, 2011

hey guys, in case you’re checking in head over to our new site to check out our review of Crysis 2!

Check it our right HERE or just follow the URL down below.

http://www.thesystemaddicts.com/reviews/crysis-2-review

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Some new game reviews!

Posted by numbthumb on April 15, 2011

hey guys, some new and old reviews posted to the new site, just a reminded to drop by and say hi. Sign up we’ve got some giveaways to hand out in our forum section. Just pop in and leave a note and you’ll be entered to win Crysis, Bulletstorm, Bioshock 2, Sanctum, Dino-D-Day, and Alan Wake. We get more in each month. You of course can come see us right HERE

Here’s some new reviews:

Rango Review

Back to the Future: Citizen Brown Review

Back to the Future: Get Tannen

TOP SPIN 4 Review

Fight Night Champion Review

Killzone 3 Review

APOX Review

Bioshock Minerva’s Den Review

Battlefield Bad Company 1

Battlefield Bad Company 2

Posted in 1, DLC, Gaming, Microsoft, Miscellaneous, News, Nintendo, Nintendo 3DS, PC, Previews, PS3, Reviews, Wii, XBOX 360 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rango: The Video Game Review

Posted by numbthumb on April 9, 2011

We take a look at Electronic Arts’ under-hyped movie tie-in for the animated film Rango. It’s short – but what’s there is really good.

The Johnny Depp starred animated film, Rango, gets the video game treatment in the Paramount published game of the same name. Come check out our review at http://www.thesystemaddicts.com.

 

http://thesystemaddicts.com/reviews/rango-review

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http://www.thesystemaddicts.com/reviews/back-to-the-future-episode-2-review

Posted by numbthumb on March 28, 2011

Our Review of Back to the Future Episode Two, Get Tannen, is up right now over at our new home: www.thesystemaddicts.com

Posted in DLC, Miscellaneous, News, PC, PS3, Reviews, Wii, XBOX 360 | Leave a Comment »

Dead Space 2 Review

Posted by numbthumb on February 4, 2011

Our Dead Space 2 Review is posted over on our new site, come check it out.

 

 

http://www.thesystemaddicts.com

http://www.twitter.com/systemaddicted

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Telltales Back to the Future: Episode One review is up

Posted by numbthumb on January 27, 2011

Telltales Back to the Future: Episode One review is up. Check it out Right Here at our new home.

Or head on over by typing http://www.thesystemaddicts.com We’d love to hear what you think our new site and our reviews.

 

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