Archive for April, 2013

360 review: Bioshock Infinite

April 26, 2013

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Swirling cumulus clouds surround the floating city of Columbia. Candles burn for the prophet as dust motes swirl around Elizabeth. She’s prancing between fairground stalls, past red banners blown by the wind. Every one of Bioshock Infinite’s graphical flourishes is ideally realized. Just so.

Likewise, Infinite’s plot is smartly designed. We’re baptized into another world, as startled as our player character, Booker DeWitt. The game grabs you with initial mystery: Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt. If Infinite excels at one thing, it’s the liberation that comes with a blockbuster game treating players as if we can follow a plot.

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PS2 review: Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne

April 16, 2013

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Nocturne’s “press turn” battle system is glorious. Every fiend has its own elemental strengths and weaknesses, and exploiting them pressures your opponents, earning you extra moves. Smart combos will have you attacking eight times in a turn instead of four, and if you structure your party right you can nullify enemy attacks, ending their attack strings early.

There’s a lot of potential for daring displays. Crafty players will ruin their opponents, exploiting weakness after weakness with a slew of elemental spells. But enemies are equally cunning. Let down your guard for a moment and they’ll crush your demons with a succession of brutal attacks, knocking you off your stride and deciding the battle. The back-and-forth struggle that arises from the press turn system lends Nocturne a ton of dynamism.

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Failing grades: why review scores are stupid

April 6, 2013

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The degree to which video game review scores are taken seriously astounds me. I don’t mean that the reviews themselves are lacking in insight, though they sometimes are. I’m referring to the score itself, an anomaly oftentimes based on nothing at all, that sows confusion amongst legions of game players.

How does one review a game? To write the review, you think about the game you played: its standout moments, the tightness of control, the depth of ideas on display. Maybe you write about the visuals: they were technically quite basic, but relied on an abstracted style that set the tone of the work.

And then you slap a number on that review and call it a day.

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