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Super Mario 3D World review

Our favorite Italian plumber is back and better than ever.

When Super Mario 3D World was announced at E3 this year, I was thrilled. After all, my Wii U, which I purchased on launch day, was begging for something new to play. Since I felt that Super Mario Galaxy was the greatest Mario game on the Wii, I had high hopes for 3D World on the Wii U, considering the Galaxy team was behind it.

Super Mario 3D World is a breath of fresh air from the New Super Mario Bros. series that we all know and love (and frankly are getting tired of). I really enjoyed New Super Mario Bros. U (and especially the New Super Luigi U DLC), but I was left wanting something more. I wanted a great 3D platformer. Super Mario 3D World delivered. This is exactly what the Wii U needed right now. Read More…

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Contrast review – A flawed, yet memorable experience

Developer/Publisher: Compulsion Games/Focus Home Interactive
Genre: Puzzle-platformer
Available on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PC
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Mode(s): Single-player
Release date: November 15th, 2013

On Nov. 15, the day the PlayStation 4 launched in North America, PlayStation Plus members could download Contrast for free, and non-members could download the indie title for $14.99. When I launched Contrast for the first time on my brand new PlayStation 4, I had no idea what to expect. I knew it had something to do with shadows, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. I ended up enjoying the game a lot, although I wish it had been more polished.

The game follows a little girl named Didi and a mysterious woman named Dawn, who you play as. You quickly find out that no one else can see Dawn, and it’s easy to assume that she is Didi’s imaginary friend. Didi has a complicated childhood. Her parents are separated, she’s home alone a lot while her mom is out working as a singer in a nightclub, and she just wants her parents to be together and happy again. She frequently sneaks out of the house with Dawn to try to mend things between them. Dawn’s ability to shift into the shadows allows her to reach places that Didi could never reach alone. Read More…

Killzone: Shadow Fall review

Developer/Publisher: Guerrilla Games/Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: First-Person-Shooter (Current Sci-Fi)
Available on: PlayStation 4 only
Mode(s): Single-player campaign, multiplayer
Release date:
(NA) November 15th, 2013
(EU) November 29th, 2013
(JP) February 22nd, 2014

What I’ve Played:
Campaign to completion (Hard)
Hours of Multiplayer

Behold, Killzone: Shadow Fall, a game among Sony’s vanguard for its PlayStation 4 launch line-up, as well as one of their exclusives. As an exclusive launch title for Sony’s shiny new console, it carries with it a lot of hype and expectations for the “Next Gen.” The first Killzone was infamously dubbed as a ‘Halo Killer’ on the PS2 when, in actuality, it was never trying to be one. While Halo had super soldiers, alien weaponry, and a colorful world, Killzone was more grounded in realism with armies of soldiers, current-sci-fi guns, and gritty war-torn battlefields. It aimed to deliver a World War 2 setting of the near future and, in doing so, they produced the Helghast with their iconic black gas masks and glowing red eyes. They are reminiscent of the Third Reich and are essentially Neo-Nazis.

Has this new Killzone been able to deliver on the “Next Gen” experience many are waiting for, or is it familiar territory hidden behind the shiny new coating? Read More…

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 1 review

Developer/Publisher: Irrational Games/2K Games
Genre: First-person shooter
Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, OS X
Mode(s): Single-player
Release date: Nov. 12, 2013

BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea is a beautiful fusion of the classic BioShock and the 2013 hit BioShock Infinite. 

While most BioShock fans enjoyed gliding along the skylines in BioShock Infinite, many of them missed the living, breathing underwater city of Rapture that they came to know and love in the first two games. In Infinite’s first story-driven DLC, Burial at Sea, they can experience Rapture in a whole new way.

In Episode 1, you play as an alternate version of Booker DeWitt, a character you know well from BioShock Infinite. He is working as a private investigator when Elizabeth hires him to help her search for a little girl named Sally. Booker and Elizabeth’s relationship is much different this time around. Elizabeth isn’t a scared little girl anymore; in a lot of ways, she’s more brave than Booker is. Also, she looks much different than she did in Columbia. She dons a cigarette and red lipstick, which is appropriate for the 1958 setting.

Rapture is more beautiful than ever before. It’s so enthralling to be able to explore Rapture before its collapse. Rapture is alive and well; peaceful. It took me more than an hour longer to complete the game than it should have because I found myself walking around and exploring Rapture. It was so nice to see the underwater city before its destruction. Read More…

Pokemon X and Y review

Developer/Publisher: Game Freak/Nintendo
Genre: Role Playing Game
Available on: Nintendo 2DS/3DS (reviewed on the 2DS)
Modes: Single player, online multiplayer
Release date: Oct. 12, 2013

Writer’s Note: I did not write a separate review for Pokemon X, as the games will play very, very similarly, with the big difference being the difference in Pokemon you can catch in the wild.

The Pokemon fad started with me when I was younger. I won’t forget where I first heard about them. It was a typical classroom day in second grade (so this would have been 1998, the year in first arrived in the states). I was sitting there working on some project, with all my classmates conversing amongst themselves, when a classmate near me was looking at this cardboard cutout of this thing called Squirtle. I had recalled seeing this on Lunchables boxes at the store but had no idea what they were.

“What is that thing?” I asked. “They are called Pokemon, it’s a TV show and card game,” they replied (details are fuzzy). “Is it fun? “Uhhh…DUH! I wouldn’t have them if they were stupid!” So, I went home, and told my mom I wanted Pokemon. She looked at me like I had six heads and had no idea what I was talking about. I told her it was a TV show and card game. “What’s it about?” “Monsters that fight each other!” I yelled as a scurried off to find when the show would be on so I could watch it before school the next day.

I watched the hell out of the show many mornings, catching reruns at night, where along the way I learned about the game Red and Blue. Being the consummate nerd that was, I had, HAD to have Pokemon Blue for Christmas. Read More…

Beyond: Two Souls review

Quantic Dream tugs at your heart strings in its latest project.

Developer/Publisher: Quantic Dream/Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Interactive drama
Modes: Single player, Dual mode
Available on: PlayStation 3
Release date: Oct. 8, 2013

Video games are maturing like never before. The “interactive drama” genre is growing ever popular, with games like The Walking Dead, Heavy Rain, and now Beyond: Two Souls getting a lot of attention. Critics claim that these games are hardly that, and that they should just be made into movies instead. In speaking with GameSpot about Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream’s David Cage said, “No one should be allowed to define what a game is or should be.” Look how much video games have changed since their invention. If games don’t change and evolve, then what’s the point?

While some argue that Cage should be making movies instead of games, I completely disagree. There are so many different types of games today, and Cage is trying something different. The thing about Cage’s games is that you’re either going to love them or hate them. Those who are open to trying new types of games will praise Cage for doing something so different and special, and others who think he should just make movies will never touch anything he makes; that’s the beauty of it.

The game follows Jodie Holmes, a girl who has had an entity attached to her since birth. This entity sometimes helps her get out of sticky situations, but overall, it has ruined her life. People think she’s a “witch” and a “demon” because the entity, Aiden, gives her supernatural powers. Throughout the game, which spans 15 years, we see her go through all sorts of depressing situations because of Aiden. Whenever something good is about to happen, Aiden seems to ruin it for her, even if it may be unintentional. Read More…

Grand Theft Auto V review

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The ability to take “selfies” is one of the most fun things to do in the game. (Photo by C. Gotto)

Developer: Rockstar North (With assistance from Rockstar: NYC, San Diego, London, Leeds, Toronto, New England, Lincoln)
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Genre: Action-Adventure
Available on: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (Reviewed on the Xbox 360)
Release Date: Sept. 17, 2013

Grand Theft Auto V is one of the biggest titles of the year. Explosive action, colorful characters, creative landscapes and all around fun is what made Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise one of the pinnacles of video games. The latest entry in the series, GTA V, is no exception.

It is, by far, the best game in the series. Having played all of the previous 3D sandbox games in the series, (III, Liberty City Stories, Vice City, Vice City Stories, San Andreas and IV) I can say that this title draws from all of its predecessors in a good way. It’s well-polished and has received a healthy dose of the 21st century, both in terms of graphical and mechanical capabilities. The story focuses on unique conditions (all a bit exaggerated) that exist living in a Los Angeles-esque city in 2013.

While it’s not perfect, it is pretty damn close. The fact that the game has no loading times outside of the initial startup, despite the massive size of the game map, is a real achievement in video games and a wonderful mechanic that truly adds to the gameplay. The massive map, with the plethora of things to do, see, and buy means that gamers will have a seemingly endless amount of fun with this title. Read More…

Total Dominance: An iOS Game App Review!

Developer/Publisher: Demst Team/Motion 9 Studios
Genre: Strategy, Board Games
Number of Players: Single player/Multiplayer
Available on: iOS devices (Reviewed on iPhone 4)
Release date:  Sept. 8, 2013

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Wow! Our very first iOS game app review! Very exciting, indeed.

And what other way to usher in a new platform in our scope than this little gem?

Total Dominance is a strategic board game app that is inspired by Six-Men Morris, a classic 1800s board game of wits involving six game pieces that each players control, which is a total of 12 pieces. The object is to line up 3 of your pieces while preventing the opponent from accomplishing the same goal. Once three pieces are lined up, they form a “mill.” When mills are formed, the respective player is allowed to remove one of the opponent’s pieces. The game is over when one player is left with only two pieces or is unable to perform any “legal” moves, meaning they are allowed to move their piece to a certain space. With that being said, there are multiple dynamics as to how to accomplish your goal of dominating your opponent. (Fun Trivia: This game was also one of the mini-games in Assassin’s Creed III!) Read More…

Splinter Cell: Blacklist Review

Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Genre: Action-Adventure/Stealth
Available on: Windows PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U
Number of Players: Single player, multiplayer
Release Date: August 20th, 2013

*Spoiler Alert

This review will contain spoilers for previous Splinter Cell games, going back to the original title from 2002. If you haven’t played these games, do not read this review.

Writer’s Note:

I am a big fan of the Splinter Cell franchise. I played all three of the “original” titles (for GameCube and PS2), and I also read a majority of the novels. Going into this game, I knew that it was going to be almost completely unlike those titles. Despite my love for the older material, I reviewed and played this game with an open mind. Is it the older titles I loved? No. Is it a major departure from the older games? Yes. That said, it is by no means a game, and the “Michael Bay effect” is something we just have to live with in this age of gaming.

Everyone’s favorite man in the shadows is back. Sam Fisher makes his return with the newly monikered Fourth Echelon to stop a worldwide band of terrorists known as the Engineers, whom after attacking a U.S. military base in Guam set forth what they call the Blacklist. The Blacklist is a list of important U.S. assets that they will attack, unless the United States calls all of its troops abroad home.

It’s up to Fourth Echelon and it new cast of heroes to save the world, along with Mr. Fisher. Anna Grímsdóttir is the only other returning member of Fisher’s team. New to the NSA top secret organization are Isaac Briggs, a former CIA officer assigned to Fourth Echelon based on his skills in the field, and Charlie Cole, The new Fourth Echelon geek, who is voiced by David Reale (doing his best Eric Szmanda impersonation).

Grim acts as the liaison between Fisher and political and military higher ups. While Fisher and Briggs get their hands dirty in the field, with Briggs being the second player in co-op missions, Mr. Cole acts as the supplier of gadgets, weapons, and other assorted gear, while also providing light humorous banter to ease the overall tension. Read More…

Saints Row IV: Fun or folly? A quick review

It’s that time again. “What time is it?,” you may ask.

Well, it’s time for another installment of Saints Row (add as many exclamation marks as you’d like to portray your excitement)

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Too soon? Or too late? Or perhaps the timing is just right? Well, I’ll be sure to tell you if this game is really worth your time and money, so don’t zip up your wallet just yet. Read More…

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