Video Game Review: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PlayStation 4)

After recently revisiting all of the Peter Jackson film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, I was reminded how much I liked the old Return of the King game for Gamecube. So I saw that this was at least somewhat similar, in that it was pretty much a hack and slash game where you take on dozens of orcs at once. I figured that for $19 I’d give it a shot and well, it won “Game of the Year”, even though everything seems to get that accolade nowadays.

I don’t think I would have been as happy with this if I had paid full price when it came out but for less than twenty bucks, it’s definitely worth the value.

If you are a fan of the Batman: Arkham or Assassin’s Creed video game series, than this should probably be a lot of fun fore you. Now it isn’t as rich and dynamic as those other games but it has similarities in how the action works. The fighting style is very much like it is in the Batman games and you can interact with the environment parkour style like Assassin’s Creed.

I like the graphics and the fluid gameplay. Plus, running around Middle-Earth like a sword wielding maniac is a really good time. I like the Nemesis System within the game and that there is a lot of fun one can have with that cool feature.

However, things do get repetitive pretty quickly in a similar fashion to the first Assassin’s Creed. But as the game progresses and you get stronger, the challenge does become better and some of the more powerful orcs can be a real pain in the ass. So I do like how the game evolves as you play it longer and longer.

I don’t like that the game only has two main maps that you can explore though. They also aren’t very big and each time I got to a new map, I unlocked all of the areas pretty damn quickly. Like ten-to-fifteen minutes quickly.

This feels like a game that really needed to be expanded on and if I just stuck to the story and didn’t get distracted running around killing thousands or orcs, I could have blown through it in an afternoon or two.

But my complaints are why I would’ve been disappointed if I had paid full price. Again, for $19 (or less), it’s worth the money.

I’ll pick up the sequel soon, as it is also rather cheap now. I hope that one at least expands on things in new ways and isn’t just a simple rehash with new maps.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: it’s sequel Shadow of War, as well as the Batman: Arkham game series and the Assassin’s Creed games.

Video Game Review: Red Dead Redemption II (PlayStation 4)

Perfection is a hard thing to achieve but Rockstar Games did it in 2010 with Red Dead Redemption. But then they did it a second time with this long awaited sequel.

And maybe I see this as better than it is due to my undying love for the last entry in this series but this is a more refined version of the game we got and it’s damn fun!

There wasn’t a lot to complain about with the first Red Dead Redemption. I thought the story was terrific, the game play was exciting and the mechanics, which can make or break a game, were very good. Red Dead Redemption II takes what worked and fine tunes it, making it better and much more fluid.

Additionally, this game adds a lot of new stuff to the mix. There are a ton of side quests and random encounters but you get to sell stolen valuables to fences, hunt down a large amount of legendary animals, catch legendary fish and chase down a lot of bounties. While some of these things existed in the predecessor, there seems to be more here and they’re less cookie cutter.

It’s also cool that this game’s map is massive. You do get to return to two of the previous areas from the first game but not until you get through the main story. Once you do, you see that the size of the map of the first game is very small in comparison to the world you’ve been traveling in in this game. Also, there is a secret area that has its own map when you’re in Chapter 5 of the story. I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll leave it at that.

In this game, you also need to take care of yourself and your horse. Make sure you’re both well fed. I liked this aspect of the game, even if I screwed up and didn’t eat too often because I was looking for action and popping open a can of beans, every so often, just got in the way of my robbery sprees.

If I had to point out some negatives I’d say that I miss the inclusion of the area based off of Mexico. That was my favorite place in the previous game and it is sorely missed. However, the new secret area sort of makes up for it but the sad thing is that you can’t return to the secret map once you leave it in the story.

Also, the game is long. Really, long. I was completely immersed in the story but you get to points where you just want to get towards the next big narrative step or the resolution. I’m not saying that there are bad or even boring missions but a few parts seemed to drag just for the sake of trying to beef up the story’s length and not necessarily it’s depth.

Regardless of that, however, the ending is pretty damn satisfying once you play through the final mission of the second epilogue. And this game ends in a great spot for you to go back and pick up the previous one again.

I don’t buy new games as often as I used to but this was pre-ordered a while ago and I anticipated the moment where I could finally slide this game into my PS4.

In the end, this did not disappoint and I’m still playing it, even though I’m done with the main story. I’m a completeist with games I love and all the extra bits I’m still working on are just as fun as the main game itself.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: the first Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Revolver, the original game.

Video Game Review: Godzilla (PlayStation 4)

I’m a massive kaiju fan, tokusatsu fan and Godzilla fan. I know it may sound silly to some but this game is the one that made me finally break down and buy a PlayStation 4. I also got it for Uncharted 4 but it’s this game that really made up my mind for me just because I wanted a great Godzilla fighting game with great graphics and mass environmental destruction.

Sadly, this doesn’t live up to the expectations I had for it but I did enjoy the hell out of this game, regardless. It has several flaws but even those didn’t distract me from the monster on monster combat for the first few weeks that I played this. But eventually, those flaws caught up to me and I wanted much more from this game.

If you are also a fan of the classic Godzilla universe, this will probably make you happy, for the most part. Luckily, this game is cheap as balls now because I wouldn’t recommend paying full price for this thing, as it runs its course pretty quickly.

You don’t start out with all the monsters being playable. You have to play the story mode multiple times to unlock every character and then you also have to play more to unlock points that can be used to enhance the abilities and stats of your monsters. This is fun for a little while but I doubt anyone will ever want to finish this arduous task because the game suffers heavily from repetitiveness.

It’s fun to play through this a few times but it is just the same thing over and over again.

Also, there really isn’t a good versus mode in this and the other modes kind of suck. The story mode is where it’s at but this is sadly, a one trick Minya.

There are some key monsters also missing from this game. I had hoped that there would be some DLCs that would add more monsters to the game but this was a commercial failure and nothing extra was developed.

Another negative, is that the environments are fun to destroy but you are confined to an area and can’t really roam too freely. Every stage has a border around it. It’d be much cooler if there was a massive map of Tokyo and you could actually walk from one side of the massive city to the other, confronting other kaiju along the way.

The game does do a good job of replicating the Shōwa era by using all the familiar music and giving you many levels that look like sets from those films. You can even knock down the Tokyo Tower on one stage. However, that nostalgia wears off the more you play the game.

It also doesn’t help that the monsters have a very limited move set and clunky controls that seem to work against you.

If you don’t give a shit about Godzilla, you should steer clear of this. If you do like the franchise, this is worth a buy if you can get it for like $10-$15.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Sadly, there aren’t a lot of kaiju games, at least in the US. But I bet this pairs well with the Japanese Ultraman games. If you have the ability to play imports, I’d suggest those.

Video Game Review: Batman: Arkham Knight (PlayStation 4)

*I played the PlayStation 4 version. The game is also available on Xbox One and Windows.

Playing this was long overdue.

This is one of my favorite video game series of the last ten years and it is the best video game series to star a comic book hero. Also, it stars the coolest hero.

Out of all the Arkham games this is probably the best one overall. I think I liked Arkham City a bit more but this one had so much content and new elements added to it that it really takes the cake from a narrative and technical standpoint.

I guess the biggest addition to this chapter in the series is that it is the first game where you can drive the Batmobile. And you don’t just get to drive it, you get to do battle with it. There are a lot of parts in the game where you have to go into vehicular combat and there are different styles, as well. There are side missions that play out like straight up car chases and then there are other missions where you go into “battle mode” and you are essentially a tank in a firefight with other tanks and aerial drones. It’s actually pretty incredible stuff and this element never got old.

The only Batmobile stuff I didn’t like was the racetrack sequences, which are worked into the Riddler side missions. I don’t play Batman games to race cars, I play them to save Gotham City from scum and villainy. They also work the Batmobile into the equation where you have to solve some of the Riddler’s puzzles. I love the Riddler, I just liked his side missions the least because of these bits.

I liked the new Arkham Knight character, even though it became fairly obvious who he was and that he wasn’t actually a new character but just a new twist on a known character. I also like that changes to his character were instrumental in Deathstroke coming into the game. But sadly, you don’t get to exchange fisticuffs with him. But that leads me to one other minor problem with the game.

There are no real boss battles. Well, there are big boss battle feeling moments like when you take on the Arkham Knight’s tank or when you reach the big crescendo in the Mr. Freeze side missions but you never actually fight any of the major villains with your fists except for Killer Croc.

Still, I do like how the big battles go down in the game. I just wish that I got to have more intimate physical encounters.

And man, there are a ton of villains. And even though the Joker is dead, he is very much a big presence in the game but I don’t want to reveal how, as that will spoil the story. But Mark Hamill, as the Joker, probably has as much dialogue in the game as Batman.

I liked that Scarecrow was the biggest villain in the game, as he’s a character that gets shafted in favor of the better known villains in Batman lore. Plus, the version of Scarecrow used in this game series is my favorite version of the character to date.

Ultimately, this is the best game in the series overall and thus, I’d say it is the best superhero video game that I have ever played. It brings the story full circle and is a nice conclusion to Rocksteady’s Batman franchise.

But really, I hope that this isn’t the actual end. I’d love to see a Nightwing, Red Hood or Batgirl game spun off from this series.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: The three previous Batman: Arkham games.

25 Best Racing Games In History

Racing games have been around since almost the beginning. They have come in several forms over every generation of gaming. Here I am ranking the best ever. In some cases, I am just listing a series as a whole, as some of these have spanned generations and been consistently good over that time.

1. Gran Turismo series
2. Forza Motorsport series
3. Need for Speed series
4. Forza Horizon series
5. F-Zero series
6. F1 series
7. Tourist Trophy
8. Super Mario Kart series
9. Road Rash series
10. WipEout series
11. Out Run
12. Rad Racer
13. Hang On
14. Midnight Club series
15. Pole Position
16. Dirt series
17. Crazy Taxi
18. Blur series
19. Virtua Racing
20. Ridge Racer series
21. Burnout series
22. Project Gotham series
23. Final Lap
24. RC Pro Am
25. MotorStorm series

Video Game Review: Toy Soldiers: War Chest – Hall of Fame Edition (PlayStation 4)

There is one reason why I purchased this game and that is because I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to lead a Cobra army into war with G.I. Joe. Granted, I also wanted to play as the Joes and to try out the Eternia army lead by He-Man. If it wasn’t for the licensed properties that this game had, I wouldn’t have cared about it all that much.

The game also features an army lead by Ezio from the Assassin’s Creed games. I didn’t care about that one so much and actually haven’t played as them because I wasn’t motivated enough to buy access to it or to play through the game long enough to unlock them. And that’s one of the problems with this game, the fact that you have to buy the extra shit or work your way through countless missions in an effort to unlock stuff. I just wanted to jump in the game as Cobra and kill stuff.

I can’t complain though, as unlocking Cobra only cost me like $5 and I got the game for about $12. It’s been out for a few years and by the time I got around to it, it was more than affordable. Which is good because I would’ve been unhappy had I paid full price.

The game is fairly cool as you start to play through it. However, it gets really repetitive very quickly.

You mostly just build turrets and fix them while getting bombarded by enemy forces. As you fight, you unlock upgrades and other weapons. Eventually, you can unlock a soldier to play as on the battlefield but it doesn’t last very long.

In the case of Cobra, you get to run around and kill things as Cobra Commander. But that’s kind of odd, as Cobra Commander is a total coward that usually sits behind the battle in a massive temple or some big armored vehicle protected by a wall of other armor vehicles. It would’ve made more sense to make someone like Major Blood an on the field commando.

Still, this is a fun game for the most part but after a few hours, I was done with it. I may fire it up once in awhile when I want to live vicariously through Cobra soldiers shooting plastic armies but it isn’t an urge I get too often.

It’d actually be cool if this game spun off into its own G.I. Joe or Masters of the Universe real time strategy game but even then, they’d have to make it more exciting, less redundant and add in a solid story of some sort. But it’s a good template for something more ambitious than what this is on its own.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Any good mobile real time strategy game, as this plays more like a highly boosted mobile game than something for a console.

Video Game Review: Friday the 13th: The Game (PlayStation 4)

*I played the PlayStation 4 version. The game is also available on Windows and Xbox One.

I was a bit late to the dance on Friday the 13th: The Game. Honestly, I’m not big on online multiplayer stuff, as I’m an old school gamer and like to work alone; I don’t need a bunch of people holding me back, I can fly on my own!

So because of that, I was holding out for the single player mode to be released, as it was announced some time ago. Annoyingly, it has been delayed and delayed and well, it still isn’t out… half a year later. Therefore, I was growing impatient and being that I’m a big fan of the Friday the 13th franchise, I figured I’d just take the plunge. Plus, I downloaded this on Friday the 13th and it’s October, so I figured I’d celebrate by killing camp counselors.

Unfortunately, I had problems with the game from the start. More than half the sessions I played, dropped due to connection issues. I tested my connection, it was fine. I also fired up some other games and they ran smoothly. I’m not sure if it was the Friday the 13th servers themselves or if there was just a lot of traffic bogging things down, due to playing this on Friday the 13th and it being the day that the physical copy of the game was released, alongside updates of new maps in the game.

I didn’t get to play as Jason until my fourth session. As cool as I had hoped it would be, I enjoyed playing as a counselor more.

To break it down, each game has eight players. One player is Jason Voorhees trying to kill the counselors, the other seven players are the counselors, who have to try to survive until the session time runs out. Counselors can also attempt to escape to safety or take on the ultimate challenge and try to kill Jason – good luck with that!

My biggest problem with the game, other than the connection I had, is that the controls are overly complicated and clunky. The way the controls are laid it, doesn’t make a lot of natural sense. The game is ambitious with giving you special abilities and whatnot but it makes things more difficult, especially without the game having a proper hands on tutorial. It isn’t a game that you can just jump in and play, there is a learning curve that just makes things kind of frustrating for those who want to jump in and have fun. With the connection issues, it made the experience even more frustrating.

Plus, you jump into a game with experienced players. Experienced players who don’t have the patience for some halfwit trying to figure things out for the first time. For a latecomer to the game, you’re just thrown to the wolves and it isn’t a fun experience.

The first time I grabbed a counselor by the throat and was ready to murder the crap out of her, the connection dropped. Then when I was a counselor and was finally confronted by Jason, the action mechanics just didn’t respond well. Most of the time, I survived the game and didn’t even see Jason. Maybe I have great stealth skills that carried over from years of playing Metal Gear games.

When I got to play as Jason again, the action mechanics of the game just felt like a mess. I’d hack and slash like a crack-addled maniac but I’d barely hit anything. Half the time I tried to chop down a door, the hit wouldn’t register. Everything just felt awkward and alien and I’m a guy that has played games since the time I could pick up an Atari 2600 controller. I’ve played a plethora of games on every single system that has ever come out and when it comes to gaming, I’m a completist, so I have my mileage.

I really wanted this game to be great and to live up to the hype surrounding it but it just doesn’t cut the mustard. I’m going to give it a go a few more times and see if something clicks for me but I’d much rather play the original NES game from 1989, which is also, still more terrifying.

Man, I truly wanted to love this game.