Uncharted 2 Review
Semptember 9, 2011

Taking all of the fun aspects from platformers, third person shooters, and puzzles, Uncharted 2 is a blast to play throughout the entire game. Everything you do is entertaining and engaging. The platforming is very much like Tomb Raider or Assassin's Creed except better since there are constant changes in the environment you're climbing, jumping, or scaling from which keep you on your toes at all times. The third person shooter side of the game feels great. All of the guns feel different and the duck and cover mechanics work fluid at all times. Puzzle solving for Uncharted 2 is easy enough to where you wont get stuck but it makes you think hard enough to make it fun. Everything is very intuitive and brilliantly executed.

Since every stage of Uncharted 2 was developed by a seperate team of people every stage shows the halmark of highly dedicated development. When you play the game you can see exactly why they did this and why other companies should do the same. All of the stages are beautiful and more often than not are jaw dropping. Everytime I entered a new area I found myself looking around and checking out all of the details of the environment. Even the far distant places you'll never visit are fully detailed, adds more depth to the game, and allows the player to become even more immersed in the story.

The plot is very Indianna Jones esque which isn't a bad thing. In fact, the script is written so well that I don't even consider this to be a game. It's a hybrid game/movie because those who arent playing the game can still be entertained since the story and all of the action moves along at such a perfect pace. The main character is very heroic and his supporting characters help flesh out his strengths and weakness'. Not only do they help flesh out the main character, but all of the support characters are interesting and are also written into the game well enough for the player to grow to love or hate them.

The soundtrack is epic, sound effects are spot on, and the voice acting is superb. The score is so good I wish they would have included it on a seperate disc so I could listen to it on it's own. It's dramatic, sad, intense, and subtle at all the right times. With the soundtrack being so good the sound effects of the environment and the weapons allow the player to feel like a part of the game. The voice acting takes that experience to another level with all of the characters portaying emotion in everything they say. A fantastic job all around.

Calling this one of the greatest games ever made, in my opinion, doesn't do it justice. This is one of the most entertaining and enjoyable experiences I have ever had. Everyone needs to play this game to see why and how gaming is the greatest form of media entertainment. Period.

Score: 10 out of 10


Red Dead Redemption
November 18, 2011

I’ve played Rockstar games in the past, and I like the work they do, but I started to lose interest in the recent releases.  However, Red Dead Redemption was a game that caught my interest during pre-release and I made sure to reserve it. The game definitely had major hyped for myself and many others, and it didn’t disappoint. It incorporates everything that was promised. There’s a big world in Red Dead Redemption and plenty of things to do in single player. It’s more than just the western Grand Theft Auto.

First off the visuals are what you can expect from Rockstar. It’s on par with Grand Theft Auto 4 in graphics. As far as the scenery, the environments, and the people; everything is very realistic. What’s impressive is the physics in the game for death animations and injuries.  When you shoot someone they’ll react accordingly to how they are hit. If you hit them in the arm they’ll spin the right way. When things die they don’t simply flop on the ground, they’ll collapse just right. The important part about the visuals of this game is how it really gives you the feeling of being in the old west, whether it’s how things react to gun fire or the environments the units populate.

Another thing that gives the old west feeling is the artificial intelligence of the game. This is one of the stand out features. Every in game NPC reacts to you and other NPCs. Some will even try to steal your horse, others will try to hire you to retrieve their stolen horse, and some want to make shady deals in the alley. How people respond to you is determined by region, who they are, and how famous and honorable you are. In Red Dead you have a fame and honor meter. Honor goes up or down depending on your actions, but fame always increases as you complete quests. If you’re killing everyone you see you’re going to strike fear in your fellow man. But if you bring in bounties alive, help out random strangers in need, or hug a tree you’re going to get honor points where people respect you by saying things like “I heard that guy kills babies.” There’s many things to do to rack up these points, and people to run into.

I may have mentioned this game has many things to do, actually I’m sure of it. With a huge world (part America, and part Mexico) you’ll be running into many different flavors of stranger and wild life to kill, maim, or beat in bird killing contests. Beside the main quests in the game which are indicated by big capital letters on your mini-map, there are numerous side quests represented by question marks. These strangers will have in game cut scenes of their own and you can complete these quests at any time. Other stranger quests are immediate and need to be finished pronto, for instance I had a guy run up to me who asked me to follow him. He led me to his friend who was being hung on this tree by a group of outlaws. I killed the outlaws, but forgot about the hanging guy, who died and it resulted in quest failure. I regret nothing. You can also play a variety of mini games, the games within the game. There’s horseshoes, five finger fillet, black jack, poker, arm wrestling, shootouts, bounties, treasure hunting, herb picking, skinning, all ways of earning cash and kicks on the side. You can spend this cash on housing where you can save your progress and change outfits. Yes, you have different outfits you can wear, but they ain't just for show. They give different benefits, like cheating in poker, or an increase in fighting capabilities. You attain these outfits by finding the first piece of the outfit and then completing specific actions which you find in your journal. I’m sure I missed something here, but it’s evident that this game isn’t just a bunch of travel, its travel with stuff littered in between.

In between the doing and the shooting and the poker playing, there’s travel. This is where the oh so helpful User interface comes in.  The map in this game is convenient with its simple to understand legend and quest tracking. You can choose specific spots on the map and put markers on them and in game you can see a red line on your minimap guiding you to your destination, but that’s not all. If you don’t feel like riding your horse there you can set up a camp and instant travel. I abuse this often. The only thing to watch for is the passing of time, which happens quicker if you instant travel. Some quests require specific time ranges to acquire.  All of this comes in handy when gunning down baddies and goodies and everything in your war path.

Lastly, the combat. Combat is fun and the controls are easy. You have a circle in place of a cross hair which you aim at targets for shooting. You can slow down time and eventually mark enemies for swift multiple shots to dispatch groups of enemies in a short time. This is limited in use, but can be reused by getting kills in different ways, replenishing its meter. You can shoot on ground or on horseback and even perform knife kills. The game includes cover play where you can hide behind rocks or walls. It felt familiar to Uncharted. I didn’t get stuck cover hopping at all, and everything was rather smooth. The only issue I met with the combat was that sometimes I couldn’t tell enemies and allies apart. For instance, there will be times in the game where you run into cops chasing criminals and you can choose to help either. A few times I’ve gone to assist the cops, but ended up shooting them instead thinking they were the criminals.  This can be troublesome, but it didn’t and shouldn’t happen often enough to hamper the experience.

In conclusion, Red Dead Redemption's single player is phenomenal. It's packed with mini-games, quests, and random things to do. My personal favorite is getting bounties on my head for epic chases with the bounty hunters. It’ll be a for sure candidate for game of the year.  So play the game. There’s lots of fun to be had with this game and it’s definitely a giant sandbox with lots toys.

Score: 10 out of 10


Eve Online Dominion
November 18, 2011

I didn't obtain a monthly subscription to this game. I only played using the 14 day trial. Many would argue that this is not enough time to fully rate this game. Eve Online is famous or infamously known to be one of the most time consuming MMO games out there. I've heard that it actually takes about 3 months to really get into the meat of this game. I, however, think 2 weeks is enough time to rate any game. It is highly unlikely that a person's feelings toward a game is going to change after 2 weeks into playing it. And if that is the case, then that's definitely a huge count against the game in my book. I personally think if a game takes more than 14 days to get a player liking it, then the gameplay has some huge issues.

But let me tell you something, I liked the gameplay of Eve Online Dominion. Granted, it probably would take me about 3 months to be able to actually fight seriously against another player online, judging by how slow I was progressing throughout the 14 day free trial. However, the slow progression felt rewarding to me. When I acquired things I felt like a genuinely earned them, which is a very refreshing experience considering the current push toward a casual demographic where achievements are simply thrown at you for little or no effort at all.

This is indeed a hardcore game. The majority of the gameplay is controlled through menu screens. To fly your ships toward objects, to fire and attack things, to talk to people, and to travel is most effectively done through the GUI (graphical user interface). So, as a result, there are a large amount of menu screens to speak of on screen at all times. The huge amount of menu screens can seem intimidating and overpopulated at first, but I was able to learn how to navigate them and play with them through the vast amounts of tutorials the game features.

Learning skills was interestingly enjoyable to me. Basically, you acquire books from completing quests or foraging throughout the universe. Then, you activate the books or items or whatever they're called through a series of menu screens which starts up a period of time. When the period of time is finished, you learn the skills the book item contained. The time it takes to learn a skill goes in real time so you can log off and when you log back in your skill might have already been learned. It kind of gives you the real life feeling of building resources.

Battling other space ships was fun too. You basically click the ship you want to attack in a list of surrounding ships in a menu screen. So it's pretty much a point and click type of deal. However, it's not point and click without thinking. You need to use a huge amount of strategy and tactics using a variety of different attacks and moves if you hope to successfully win against other serious online players. Once your own ships are destroyed, they're gone forever, so the price of losing a battle is extreme, especially considering how hard it is to acquire many ships.

As stated before, progression in the game is very slow. The game itself is very time consuming. To that end, it won't appeal to everyone. Many people just don't have the time in real life to play this game seriously. The fastest way to progress in the game is to join a corporation (the MMO equivalent of a guild). If you'd rather go at it alone for awhile you can do solo quests and mine alone for awhile, but that's much slower. You can also try to form your own corporation. In any case, you're probably going to need some online companions if you want to get real far in the game.

This game is beautiful to look at. Traveling in this game is done in large part by using auto-pilot so a lot of times you don't have direct control over your ship. That was fine to me because I was simply mesmerized by the beauty of travel. In the background you can see beautiful nebulas, star clusters, supernovae, and other space anomolies. The backgrounds are gorgeous. The star ships you can obtain look really cool too. Planets, space colonies, and warp transporters are sweet to gawk at too. The game looks most amazing, however, during PvP battles. When experienced players go at it with their regiment of ships, it looks very intense. The lighting effects that are created from ship explosions, attack fire, and shot impacts are eye dropping. Personally, the graphics alone make this game worth playing, and usually I never feel that way about graphics. That's pretty amazing considering most of the gameplay is seen in open space, with nothing but backgrounds and space ships in it's game world.

I liked a few of the musical tracks. There were some good space fairing, exploration type theme music. I liked this one tutorial song they had. A lot of the songs in the game I felt were overly dangerous sounding though. Some of the songs tried to push the sense of danger and fear a little too much. I think the title theme is a perfect example of this. I guess it's more of a personally opinion, but I don't like music that tries too hard to push a mood or tone. There was also some mostly ambient sounding music tracks. You know, those type of songs that easily blend in the background because they have a lot of ambient noise in them. Not really a fan of that type of music either, but I know a lot of people who are, so take that for what it's worth to you.

You know, if I had the time (and money) to spare each month, I would totally play this game. It's actually a really good game if you can get involved in it. It provides an excellent sense of accomplishment within a real community of players. The game also looks gorgeous. The only issue I really had with this game is that it just takes too long to get into, even in MMO standards. Unfortunately that one issue is pretty big. I mean, it was pretty laughable how much real progress I made during the 14 day trial. It's not like I barely scratched the surface either. I went through a lot of content. It's just that the 2 weeks worth of content didn't take me barely anywhere. Because of this, the game is definitely not for anyone. But if you're a gamer who happens to have a few free hours everyday, you'll have a blast playing Eve Online.

Score: 10 out of 10