Little Big Planet PS Vita Review

It goes without saying that Sackboy, the face of Little Big Planet (LBP), has become one of PlayStation’s most distinguishable icons. The original Little Big Planet, released back in 2008, created a side-scrolling platformer that combined a colorful world with limitless creativity. Little Big Planet 2  then came out, took that very experience, and opened it up to brand new horizons. The PS Vita version of Little Big Planet however, aims to take the best of what the franchise has been able to offer and package into a unique handheld experience.

Little Big Planet PS Vita doesn’t stray far off from the formula of its console brethren. You start by getting introduced to the world of Little Big Planet through the game’s narrator, Stephen Fry. The narrator goes on to explain the basics of LBP and sets you up to venture into the game’s story mode.

Story is the game’s single-player mode which is essentially a 5-6 hour long introduction aiming to familiarize you with the game’s world and mechanics. It revolves around a puppeteer who is causing mayhem in the world of Little Big Planet, and it’s up to Sackboy to stop him. Throughout your adventures you be visiting five worlds that are diverse both in terms aesthetics and mechanics introduced. Each of the levels utilizes the PS Vita’s capabilities differently and adds a unique element to the game’s vivid universe. Furthermore, if you’re connected to the PlayStation Network you can choose to go through the different levels with a friend or a random online partner. Going through the levels with another player opens up new areas which were previously locked off, adding on to the game’s already exquisite level design.

While in most games the use of touch is often horribly implemented and feels gimmicky at best, Little Big Planet PS Vita takes that issue and throws it right out of the window. The game is seemingly inviting you to use touch controls as they feel like the perfect fit to the game’s world. Rather than feeling like an afterthought, the game’s touch implementation is a core part of the experience. This really sets the game apart from other titles in the PS Vita library as it perfects the touch inputs unlike any other. Tapping the back touch panel on the PS Vita to bring an object into the game’s foreground feels natural, so does touching the screen to move specific obstacles out of the way. Nothing ever feels tacked on throughout the experience and that is something that most games often have a hard time implementing successfully.

While LBP PS Vita’s story mode is quite enjoyable, the true beauty of the game lies in its community. Once you complete the opening world, you will gain access to tons of community levels that bust the playing field wide open. You also get your own moon, meaning that you can now create your very own levels. User-created levels are not limited by the game’s core platforming elements, hence they can  essentially be anything from a racing level to an RPG. The toolkit given in LBP PS Vita, while extremely powerful, is pretty easy to use due to the handy tutorial and simplistic design approach. The use of the PS Vita’s touch inputs makes creating and designing levels a lot easier than it ever was in the series. The touch creation tools feel right at home, even more so than the creation tools used in the previous console entries.

Verdict:

Lengthy load times aside, Little Big Planet PS Vita is hands down one of the best experiences that graced the platform to date. It takes the best out of the franchise and creates a game that really shine’s on Sony’s powerful handheld. It utilizes the PS Vita’s multiple inputs like no other  and offers a huge stream of content thanks to its robust community. LBP PS Vita is the best entry in the franchise yet, and is a prime example of a game tailor made to take advantage of the system’s capabilities.

Score: 9/10

________

-Subscribe to me on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/Hyunickel

-Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/abdullafadhel

-Personal blog: http://hyunickel.wordpress.com

Mark Of The Ninja Review

In a year filled with giant Triple A releases, it’s always refreshing to see a small developer come out with something different. Mark Of The Ninja, developed by Klei Entertainment, is one such game. The developers behind Shank & Shank 2 have put out a 2D side-scrolling stealth game that aims to showcase the very roots of the genre. The result is a highly enthralling experience that sets an example for how modern stealth games should play like.

Mark Of The Ninja’s story is nothing out of the ordinary. You’re a Ninja tasked with taking down an opposing enemy that threatens the existence of your own clan. To do that you’re given special markings on your body, using a particular type of ink, that heightens your senses and present you with incredible powers. While most the story is mainly presented through gorgeously animated 2D cut-scenes, there is additional background info to be found in scrolls scattered throughout the game’s stages. Regardless, the story of the game is not its strongest point as it consists of a fairly basic plot-line filled with predictable plot-twists.

The gameplay of Mark Of The Ninja however is where the game really shines. Stealth is at the very core of the experience and I mean that in every way possible. There are a lot of stealth games out there that try, often unsuccessfully, to encapsulate what the genre is truly about.

But Mark Of The Ninja gets it.

Stealth is about reaching your goal without being detected using whatever means necessary. Mark Of The Ninja  completely understand that concept by offering you the choice of sneaking your way through the whole game without killing a single soul, or killing every enemy you come across in the game. You will always find yourself with more than one path to go through and the game doesn’t penalize you for choosing one style of stealth over another.

Mark Of The Ninja puts a huge emphasis on light and darkness. As a Ninja, the darkness is your friend. You are generally meant to hide in the shadows as being in the light exposes you to your enemies. Enemies in the game have a line of sight that is visible to you on- screen. There are certain things that can extend that line of sight such as an illuminating streetlamp or flashes of lightning on a rainy night. Hence you need to plan your movement properly such that you move from the light into the shadows without being seen.

In addition, any loud sound made in the game is shown as an on-screen ripple effect. If an enemy is within that ripple’s boundaries then they will be able to hear it, attracting them to the source. This can be utilized as a way of distracting your enemies using your various weapons, abilities, and surroundings to your advantage.

[image loading]

You start the game initially with a few basic skills and weapons such as having access to throwing darts. But as you progress through the game you will gain the ability to upgrade and acquire new weapons. Those upgrades and weapons can be attained through collecting seals which are gained by achieving higher scores within the game’s stages. By the end of the game you will find yourself having a wide array of abilities and weapons to choose from. This further expands the number of ways you can approach the game’s different missions.

Another thing that Mark Of The Ninja excels at particularly well is the pacing and diversity of its stages. The game does a great job of keeping you engaged and part of the action throughout its duration. It does that by diversifying it’s beautiful level designs and adding in a small mix of puzzle and platforming elements.This keeps the action constantly flowing without making the stages feel tedious at any point.

Once you finish the game for the first time you will unlock New Game Plus mode. This mode provides a greater challenge as tougher enemies appear and getting spotted becomes a lot easier. At this point, the game also allows you access to all upgrades and weapons right from the start.

There is very little that Mark Of The Ninja does wrong. The most glaring issue being that the Keyboard & Mouse controls on PC don’t feel as good as their controller counterpart. You would sometimes find yourself pressing something only for the game to register it at something else that entirely blows your cover. That’s not to say that the controls on Keyboard & Mouse are horrible, but using a controller is definitely going to yield to a much better playing experience.

Conclusion:

Mark Of The Ninja is a breath of fresh air in a year that saw the release of tons of sequels & Triple A titles. It implements stealth unlike any other game in recent memory and combines a great atmosphere with amazing 2D visuals to create a truly one of a kind experience. Aside from a lackluster story and a few control issues with a Mouse & Keyboard, Mark Of The Ninja stands tall as one of the best downloadable titles that have graced this year’s gaming library.

Score: 9.5

________

-Subscribe to me on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/Hyunickel

-Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/abdullafadhel

-Personal blog: http://hyunickel.wordpress.com

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes Review

Sherlock Holmes is a character that didn’t receive a lot of adaptations in the Video Game industry. One of the few exceptions to that case is Frogsware’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series which currently spans eight entries. Frogsware has been putting out Sherlock Holmes games since 2002, and while the games generally tend to receive mixed responses, they do an outstanding job of portraying Holmes’s character. The latest and eighth entry in the franchise, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, is a title that attempts to delve deeper into the mind our favorite detective and showcase one of Holmes’s most interesting adventures.

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is presented as Sherlock’s greatest challenge yet. In it, Sherlock is set in the middle of a crime case that seems to put his own credibility in question. The further the story progresses, the more doubtful everyone is of Holmes’s ways and motives. Even Holmes’s most trustworthy companion, Dr. Watson, begins to doubt what his incredibly gifted partner’s real goals are. By choosing such an interesting scenario, the game is able to further explore Holmes’s personality and bring us a side of him we’ve never seen before.

Previous games in the series tended to shy away from depicting blood and gore. This entry however is easily the darkest and most brutal yet. At one point you will be examining a severed thumb cut out off a mutated corpse. In another, you will be dissecting a body to get evidence out a dead man’s internal organs. The game has extremely graphic scenes and that is something that adds to the realism that Frogsware is trying to portray in the series.

As a point and click adventure game you will be facing quite a ton of different puzzles. That’s not necessarily a good thing. While a lot of those puzzles are interesting and incredibly clever, they’re usually pretty difficult to piece together. Some even go to the extent of having you decipher ciphers with very few hints as to how you’re supposed to approach them. The game doesn’t really present you with any guidance, and you will often be left scratching your head for a while wondering what you are supposed to do next. This can be infuriating as you progress through the game due to some of the puzzles dragging on for way too long.

In addition to solving puzzles, you will be required to collect evidence for the case at hand. Evidence range from things you find on the crime scene to testimonials received from characters you come across in the game. You will have to combine those different sources and often think outside the box to come up with the proper conclusion. This is definitely one of the game’s high points as figuring out exactly what went on in the case is incredibly satisfying.

The visuals of the game have received a massive update compared its predecessors. Character models appear much more detailed and the game pays particular attention to lighting and particle effects. It’s not to say that the visuals are anything groundbreaking, but they are definitely heads and shoulders above anything Frogsware previously put out.

As for the voice acting, while some of the game’s characters feel a bit off, both Holmes and Dr.Watson seem spot on every time they speak. The voice actors for those two characters do an amazing job of bringing fiction to life.On the other hand the game’s soundtrack is very limited. The track available are pleasant to listen to at first, but you eventually grow tired of hearing the same tracks playing over and over again.

Conclusion:

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is a game that does an outstanding job of portraying Holmes’ character and exploring one of his darkest cases yet. However, some incredibly frustrating puzzling, a limited soundtrack, and some iffy voice acting tend to hinder the game from reaching its optimal potential . Despite those issues, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is a highly enjoyable experience provided you are able to withstand the massive amount of difficult puzzles headed your way.

Score: 7.5

________

-Subscribe to me on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/Hyunickel

-Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/abdullafadhel

-Personal blog: http://hyunickel.wordpress.com

Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition (PC) Review

The year of 2011 saw the release of Dark Souls, the highly anticipated spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls. Developed by From Software, the game was met with tons critical praise as it provided a unique, one of kind Action-RPG experience. PC gamers however, were unable to get their hands on the game due to it only releasing on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. In a move to catch the attention of Namco Bandai and From Software, PC gamers rallied up a petition to bring the game onto their favorite gaming platform. Their efforts were not in vain as Namco Bandai finally announced Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, an updated version of the original game, for the PC.

Unlike Demon’s Souls’ structured hub approach, Dark Souls is set in a huge open-world. As soon as you finish the introductory part of the game, you will be thrown into this massive world and left to explore it as you see fit. You can climb up towards Undead Burg or venture below to New Londo Ruins. There isn’t a strictly guided structure as to how you should approach the game, but there are certain events that needed to be completed in order to further progress the story .

There isn’t much Story to Dark Souls in the traditional sense, as most of the game’s lore is hidden in conversations you have with various NPCs as well your own interpretations of what’s happening in the world. Lots of people disregard the story for being shallow, but in reality, if you dig deep enough you will eventually realize that the world is filled with background and history. Everything is subtly hinted at and you slowly build your own understanding for what exactly happened that led to such a dark and gruesome world.

If you haven’t already heard all the talk about this game’s difficulty, then let me clarify something first. This game is hard. It’s harder than every other game out in the market right now. Contrary to what you may think, the game doesn’t cheat you in difficulty. It simply teaches you its ropes through the best mechanism there is, Death. Death is crucial to Dark Souls and that might be a bit too hard to understand the first time you play the game. You might get frustrated by how challenging the game is and how nearly everything you encounter in this world is desperately trying to kill you. However once you start to get a hold of the game’s mechanics you will soon realize that the game’s difficulty is justified.

Combat in Dark Souls has a sense of weight to it while still being both tight and responsive. You can’t go off mashing away buttons  to kill off your enemies as that will most probably render you dead. Even weaker enemies in large amounts can be lethal. Dark Souls can be best described as a clever waiting game. You need to react and read your enemies rather than recklessly swinging your sword around. The game forces you to think, because if you don’t it will keep killing you until you do. This is a breath of fresh air for players looking for a challenging experience as Dark Souls is one of the few titles that manage to implement difficulty in such an engaging way.

While the game does allow you to use a mouse and keyboard as a control option, a controller is highly recommended. The mouse and keyboard controls aren’t implemented well enough and might be frustrating to use at times. This might be a deal breaker to some people but using a controller is essentially the optimum way to ensure that your experience does not suffer as a result.

The game’s boss and enemy design are simply amazing and blend perfectly with the game’s world. Dark Souls has, what is quite possibly, the best boss design I have ever encountered in a Video Game. The diversity of the bosses you fight is mind boggling to say the least. Not only do the bosses differ from each other, but the way you need to fight them makes each a memorable fight. Enemies in the game also come in all shapes and sizes ranging from hordes of undead to man eating trees. Having such unique designs throughout the game keeps gameplay exciting by having you experience a wide variety of content.

Dark Souls implements online connectivity in two different ways. First, it allows players to leave messages on the ground for other players to find. These can range from “watch out for what’s coming” to “safety ahead”.Secondly, the game also allows you to invade other players’ worlds and vise versa. These can make for some really fun Player vs Player moments and the rewards you receive from participating in them are huge. New to the PC version is the PvP Arena, which sadly doesn’t work as well as I hoped it would. Matchmaking doesn’t function so well and it’s often hard to get a proper fight going. This feature is certainly a disappointment, as it could have potentially added a new dynamic to the game’s content offerings.

As an updated version of last year’ hit, Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition  includes brand new content that was not included in the original game. The content is seamlessly woven in the game’s world making it feel like it has always been there in the first place. The new content can only be accessed after a certain point through the game and adds in around 10 hours of gameplay. This makes the already huge world of the game much more exciting to explore as it allows you to venture off and fight brand new enemies and bosses.

Conclusion:

Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition is undeniably a weak PC port. It doesn’t utilize much of the platform’s vast offerings and developer From Software’s inexperience with the system shows up in every way. That however doesn’t stop it from being an amazing Action-RPG experience. Its gruesome dark world, fantastic combat, and excellent boss and enemy design are just too good to resist. The additional content is woven together really well into the game’s world and expands upon its already lengthy offerings. With the current modding tools out there, you can get the game to run leaps and bounds better than its console counterpart. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition, despite its operational hiccups, is one of the best Action-RPG titles ever made.

Score: 9.5/10

___________

-Subscribe to me on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/Hyunickel

-Follow me on twitter! http://twitter.com/abdullafadhel

-Personal blog: http://hyunickel.wordpress.com