Profile for B. Cooper > Reviews

Browse

B. Cooper's Profile

Customer Reviews: 27
Top Reviewer Ranking: 409,318
Helpful Votes: 732


Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
B. Cooper RSS Feed
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3
pixel
Les Misérables [Blu-ray]
Les Misérables [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Hugh Jackman
Price: $13.43
130 used & new from $2.16

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good as Broadway - The Best Musical Film Ever Made, April 25, 2013
Les Miserables is quite simply the best musical made to date. The casting is superb, the music and orchestral composition is phenomenal, and the set design and acting is top-notch. I have seen Les Miserables on Broadway three times, and I would EASILY say this is just as good as any of those performances. With the thrill of seeing a live-performance aside, I would even dare to say it is better! Can I give any higher praise than that?! If you have a great surround set-up, then you owe it to yourself and your family to purchase this film.

Tom Hooper made one of the most brilliant decisions when directing this film - to have the actors sing each number as they acted, rather than to dub their performances with studio music afterwards. I CANNOT STRESS how much this impacted the film in a positive way, and I cannot believe other directors have not utilized this in the past. I was skeptical about having prominent actors such as Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe cast into such well-known singing roles, but I believe they did an exceptional job. Russell Crowe's singing may have been the weakest in terms of solo performances, BUT his acting is EXTREMELY powerful for the role. In the end, I found that I really believed him as Javert and appreciated the fact that he was chosen for the cast. He serves as a fantastic foil for Jackman's Jean Valjean.

If you don't like musicals, then even a stellar film such as this will not change your perception. But if you do, let me tell you that this is a movie that is powerful beyond words. The staging, casting, color saturation, cinematography, singing and instrumentation are simply off the charts. Samantha Barks's rendition of "On My Own" is better than any of the three Broadway shows I have seen, and Eddie Redmayne did a standout job as Marius. I was moved to tears several times, and felt like giving a standing ovation following the film - and this is from my living room, watching the movie by myself with surround sound. I am not a sentimental person either. Wow! Jeez..I'm still reeling with shock from how fantastic everything was - right up to the final chorus.

I urge you to view this movie for yourself, and to see it through from start to finish. This is not simply another rendition of Les Miserables, it is THE BEST rendition of Les Miserables. If you are not a believer by the final note, then you may want to consult a local audiologist to test your hearing. I am so happy I decided to buy this instead of rent, because it is a movie for the ages!

"This one goes to 11"/10


Darksiders II
Darksiders II
Offered by Hubbagames
Price: $14.89
94 used & new from $3.90

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Completionist Review: For Better and Worse - But Mostly Better, August 27, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Darksiders II (Video Game)
FOR BETTER:
---------------
Darksiders 2 is an impressive follow up to THQ and Vigil's apocaplyptic journey. Even if you never played the original, don't have any reservations about picking up the sequel. Death is an extraordinary character: well-acted, well-animated, enigmatic and engaging.

In this installment we take on the guise of War's brother Death, one of the four horsemen, who has undertaken a quest to absolve his brother from the punishment of the Charred Council for destroying humanity. Realizing that his brother had been framed, Death vows to do whatever is necessary to restore the balance between angels and demons.
Like its predecessor, Darksiders 2 does an EXTRAORDINARY job of pulling concepts from other licenses and making them feel original within a common theme (the battle between Heaven and Hell at the End of Days). This time around the primary draw is Ubisoft's 2008 Prince of Persia. Death will perform wall runs, extended climbs and other free-running tactics that are visually identical to the unnamed Prince. Yet despite references to other genres and titles (Portal, Shadows of the Damned, Legend of Zelda, God of War, Devil May Cry, etc.) Darksiders 2 manages to move beyond the driving concepts to deliver a wholly unique experience. From background art, puzzle implementation and narrative framework - Darksiders 2 manages to mold its own identity by successfully working RPG elements into a visually striking hack-and-slash world.

This time around Death can choose between his primary weapon (scythes) set to the [] button, and a secondary weapon (armblades, gauntlets, hammers, axes, glaives, and claws) which is set to the /\ button. Attack combinations can be purchased by trainers, and are easy to execute during battle. Although most sequences are little more than a mix of both buttons with pauses between inputs, the simple commands belie Death's flashy and intense moveset. There are an extraordinary number of different weapons to find, each with their own perks (damage types, stat bonuses, exp. increases etc.) that can radically change your playing style. In addition, these weapons are found based upon your character's current level and come in increasing rarity: white - common, green - uncommon, blue - rare, purple - unique, and gold - legendary. The most interesting addition are "possessed weapons" which can be upgraded by "feeding" other items to them. These weapons can be enhanced a set number of times before reaching their maximum potential by taking on the attributes of the weapons and armor that are fed to them. With each new progression you have the option to choose a perk that will subsequently improve with further item leveling. In most cases a fully upgraded possessed weapon will be better than a similar level unique or rare one. In all cases combat is visceral, fast paced and exciting.

Armor is likewise found in differing rarities, although there are no legendary or possessed pieces of armor. Based upon the attributes you use with your playing style, your version of Death may greatly vary from your friend's. Both weapons and armor can also drastically improve the effectiveness of skills chosen from the Harbinger and Necromancer skill trees. Although the diversity is not as great as in a game like Dragon Age - it is still enough to keep your character evolving throughout the duration of your playthrough. The best part is that the demon merchant Vulgrim can respec your character for a very low fee, so you can try any other skill combinations at your leisure.

FOR WORSE:
--------------
Despite all of my praises, Darksiders 2 is not without faults. It pains me to list them, because I TRULY LOVE the direction of the game. The real problem that keeps it from becoming a masterpiece is overambition and not enough time to see it through. Darksiders 2 makes multiple trade-offs from the original and unfortunately not always for the better.

Graphically the sequel takes a hit in texturing and even character modeling. Things are not quite as smooth as the first time around, and you will notice some "near-polygonal" edges on some of the characters. When swimming or in confined areas walls look bland and occasionally dip to PS2 quality. Fortunately this is not the norm, and most vistas are gorgeous and stunning. Despite some pixellation when viewing further draw distances, the artistic design and bold coloration of the sequel TRULY save the day.

When I first started playing Darksiders 2 I was blown away by the sweeping orchestral movement and striking vista of a foreboding icy fortress. In retrospect, I feel this cathartic moment at the game's onset might have set the bar a little "too" high for the rest of the game. After 35 hours, I can safely say that both the narrative and bosses take a back-seat to those in Darksiders 1. All too often the story is revealed via comic book style cutscenes, rather than full out CGI. There are also not very many moments that ramp up emotionally or deliver sweeping orchestral keynotes like the first game. Although there is an attempt to tie in to War's tale, Death's episodic journey also seems to be much more flash and less substance. He has relatively clear motivations for why he is going somewhere, but the enemies and challenges he faces are more often typical RPG fare than the "ultimate battles" faced by his brother. Prepare for a lot of fetch quests set between largely open areas (Unlimited quick travel saves the day!). There are also more dungeons, but less differentiation between areas in a similar zone. Dungeons are also MUCH smaller, and require less coordination or logic when choosing between various tools. In addition, because of the revamped combat system the enemies and bosses are more like those found in God of War/Devil May Cry than Legend of Zelda. These are no longer "puzzle bosses," but more hack-and-slash.

Yet most of these issues are a matter of creative opinion, if not the results of time constraints. The real commonplace issues are the small bugs and technical flaws you will find along the way. I had to hard restart my PS3 8 times while playing Darksiders 2. Several of these were due to complete freezes during combat or platforming, but even worse were the several "almost" game-breaking glitches. Thank God the developers had the intelligence to insert fail-safes when a save was reloaded from initial start-up.

1.)I had a NPC who was supposed to carry a heartstone for me get stuck on a door, and I could not get him to pick it up until I restarted the system. Thankfully it reset the heartstone to a point where I only had to complete a small portion of the dungeon, and the character did not get stuck again.

2.)I had the audio completely cut out when speaking to the Lord of Bone. I had to do a hard restart and erase my dungeon waypoints to get it to trigger properly.

3.)I completed several Forge Land dungeons later in the game and was not able to recover a special item required for an earlier quest.

4.)A contextual button that was supposed to appear and allow me to place a lantern on a statue would not trigger. This was the first time said puzzle was used. Thankfully, I understood the level design and realized that something was supposed to happen here. The button prompt allowing me to progress through the dungeon only appeared after shutting down and restarting the PS3.

5.)One of the primary bosses known as "the Wailing Host" froze mid-strike for about 20 seconds with its health bar half depleted. During this time Death was still able to circle around the battle arena and attack as normal (further reducing the boss's health bar). However, the boss became invincible after the temporary freeze and would not die when its health reached zero. This is because the battle is actually punctuated by several button prompt actions that were not triggered after the glitch. This was the only major glitch that inexplicably resolved itself without having to fully restart the PS3, BUT I had to restart the boss battle from a checkpoint three times before it was fixed.

NO GAME MANUAL:
----------------------
THQ also decided to cut down on cost by NOT including a physical game manual. They didn't even include an in-game manual like the one in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Instead, they give you a web address for finding the contents online. This wouldn't be a terrible problem, but many of the finer details regarding collectables, locating/setting quests, and the HUD are not directly explained. Be prepared to do a few internet searches before fully understanding the game.

TIL DEATH DO US PART (Summary):
------------------------------------
I wish Darksiders 2 had more CGI, better music, a more focused narrative and more/bigger boss battles. Yet when all is said and done it is still an EXCELLENT addition to the franchise. I feel that the pressure to release the game by mid-August after an initial delay hampered the artistic and technical design of the game. THQ's president even released a statement saying two things:
1.)The game had to release this summer because he felt it could not compete with games like Assassin's Creed 3 and Call of Duty. Obviously this drove the decision to cut out the more difficult to develop aspects like full CGI.
2.)If Darksiders 2 fails to perform up to sales expectations, he will reallocate all of Vigil's staff to other games, effectively ending the series before it really had a chance to take off.

So, Death's journey may not be a perfect one. It might not even be quite as good as his brother's before him. HOWEVER, it is still a journey worth taking in every sense. Breathtaking landscapes, multitudes of loot, New Game +, hundreds of collectables, memorable characters and stellar voice acting await.

If you have any interest whatsoever in the material or genres that Darksiders 2 represents - do yourself a favor and purchase both Darksiders 1 and 2. Keep the series alive and give Vigil the chance to craft a truly epic game in Darksiders 3. I spent 35 hours trying to find out what happens next, and I feel Vigil deserves the chance to tell me.
THQ, Let's see this war through to the end!
(8.5/10)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 3, 2012 4:07 PM PDT


Game of Thrones: Season 1 (Discontinued) [Blu-ray]
Game of Thrones: Season 1 (Discontinued) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Sean Bean
Offered by SilverStateSales
Price: $58.77
29 used & new from $13.24

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BELIEVE the Reviews. Words Cannot Describe the Greatness of HBO's Game of Thrones, April 2, 2012
I heard the reviews for Game of Thrones, yet originally dismissed the miniseries based upon several misconceptions. True, this is not overtly centered around fantasy elements despite being part of the genre; and yes, there is an abundance of political drama. However, HBO and George R.R. Martin have succeeded in creating some of the most riveting characters and suspenseful narration ever witnessed in film. If you have even a remote interest in dark fantasy, Game of Thrones is the best miniseries ever created.

Acting is phenomenal across the board. Recognizable actors/actresses and newcomers alike never miss their mark. From children to adults, not a single line is delivered without conviction. The intensity with which you will come to love, or loathe each character is testament to the writing and skillful acting that brings each character to life. Brace yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions.

This is truly an adult series, and if you shy away from extreme violence or blunt sexuality and nudity - you will not enjoy Game of Thrones. Yet for those who are not put off, I can say that nothing feels forced. Instead, it feels like a much grittier, natural depiction of the time period and setting.

I will not delve into specific episodes, because I honestly enjoyed each of the (10) 50-54 min long episodes equally. However, there is something to be said about a 10 hour miniseries that is consistent throughout. In fact, it was difficult to watch less than 3-4 episodes at a time. Witnessing several stories unravel at once akin to Lord of the Rings was deeply engaging. George R.R. Martin stated in several interviews he was influenced by J.R.R Tolkien and H.P. Lovecraft, and it shows. The ghastly White Walkers invoke an almost preternatural fear from their domain behind the Wall, and the characters and backstories are dynamic and unique.

Regarding bluray player playback - I also own an Oppo BDP-83, which a few reviewers claim has issues playing the bluray version of Game of Thrones. I did have to shut off the system and turn it back on several times. However, once it registered the disc I only had to wait about 15 sec. Such a minor inconvenience is not even noteworthy considering how revolutionary this series is, and how FANTASTIC it looks and sounds on bluray. This is nothing new either. As bluray discs are compressed more, it is inevitable that the players will need additional software updates. You can't blame HBO for releasing the bluray with better visual and sound quality.

George R.R. Martin has said there will be 7 books in the series, and is currently writing the 6th. I can say, without a doubt, that if HBO continues to live up to its own standards - this will be a collection for the ages. More than Harry Potter, or any other series - I will look forward to the next installment.

Game of Thrones should be placed next to the word EPIC in the dictionary. These four letters can sum up my entire review.

HBO, thank you.


Prince of Persia Trilogy HD - Playstation 3
Prince of Persia Trilogy HD - Playstation 3
Offered by Awesome Fun Time
Price: $19.86
82 used & new from $8.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How Did This Make it Past Quality Assurance? Abysmal Sound Makes it Unplayable, March 26, 2012
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
As one of the few gamers that never played the original Prince of Persia releases, I eagerly anticipated this HD Trilogy and purchased it yesterday after a significant price cut.

Even with the price cut, this collection is a blatant slap in the face to gamers. The sound quality in all three games is atrocious, to the point of making the games completely unplayable.

The sound fxs are WAY too loud: scampering bugs and cries drill into your skull with a series of repetitive onslaughts. The music is WAY too soft: unless the other tracks are turned completely down it is inaudible. Lastly, the volume of speech differs between in-game cinematics and cut-scenes. Therefore, it is either blaring or completely underwhelming.

I've encountered less than perfect sound mixes in the Tomb Raider Trilogy (HD collection) and Call of Duty: Black Ops; however, I was able to adjust the sound levels within those games and find an acceptable balance. The mixing in the Prince of Persia Trilogy is not the worst issue. The REAL PROBLEM is the quality of the audio.

EVERYTHING sounds like it is being broadcast through a tin can and then transmitted with reverb set to +11. Effects are also frequently absent or out of place: explosions and rock slides may have no audio whatsoever, while a water fountain at the end of a hallway booms with the verocity of Niagra Falls. Between the abhorrent tonal qualities and discontinuous sounds the audio is beyond mere mediocrity. Not only that, dolby digital doesn't work properly and the sound needs to be set to 2 channels.

I have many HD collections: Metal Gear Solid, God of War, God of War: Origins, Jak & Daxter, Tomb Raider Trilogy, and Ico & Shadow of the Colossus. When I purchase an HD collection, I EXPECT the same sort of HD treatment.

Graphically the HD 16:9 looks on par with other collections. The menu system is terrible though, and will not let you choose from other games without quitting to the PS3 home menu. They also forgot to add sound effects for choosing between the 3 games or options.

All in all, this is a LAZY, AWFUL port that should NOT have made it through Quality Assurance. As a big fan of the Assassin's Creed series, I expected more from Ubisoft. I've eagerly anticipated playing these games for a long time, but playing through them with this sound quality is absolute torture.

The Prince of Persia Trilogy is the worst port, or "upgrade" release I have ever purchased. If Ubisoft had any respect for its fans it would patch the issues or recall the original versions. If this was a film release of a classic, people would be in an uproar!

For newcomers, the sound is an immediate disconnect from the series. For longtime fans, this release is the equivalent of gaming blasphemy. So let me ask you, WHY have people allowed this to happen to a classic trilogy without more negative feedback?
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 23, 2013 6:26 AM PDT


Twisted Metal
Twisted Metal
Offered by J&S GAMES
Price: $14.99
177 used & new from $4.16

100 of 108 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Questionable Additions/Removals That Deter From Longstanding Strengths, February 28, 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Twisted Metal (Video Game)
Twisted Metal (2012) is based on a great franchise with excellent core gameplay. However, this newest release tries to apply an assortment of mode variations (taken from FPS and racing games) with questionable results.

Instead of being able to choose from a macabre cast of characters (as in past titles) you find yourself tied to (3) players: Sweettooth, Mr.Grimm, and Dollface (which are unlocked in that order). Each character has (3) 2-3 min movies that blend live-action and CGI to great effect, even though the middle cinematic is partially relegated to flashbacks from the original video.

Combat and vehicle handling are tight. Weapons are varied and mostly balanced, and the helicopter Talon is actually pretty fun to use. As a result, online play can be enjoyable if you select the right matches and modes. However, in an attempt to add variety, the modes too often stray from what is fun.

Once vehicles have been unlocked by a character's gang they can be used during other matches. It seems kind of odd to use Sweettooth on Mr.Grimm's motorcycle, or to drive Shadow with Dollface - but that's what you'll find. (Axel is only playable as DLC). The good part is that you can use your favorite car in almost every level. However, the PROBLEM is that the new level designs almost force you to select certain cars to proceed in single player or be competitive online.

Ultimately, you end up choosing what works best for certain scenarios and less of who you would LIKE to play as. Twisted Metal was always a car combat game built around single elimination death matches. The new game changes that, and not necessarily for the better. On the rooftops there will be an inordinate number of people using the helicopter Talon.

Likewise, in checkpoint races everyone will choose Kamikaze or Crimson Fury (paint variations of the fastest vehicle). Here you must beat your opponents to certain destinations without missing too many gates. The problem is that this is NOT Mario Kart, or Blur where weapons will knock people off the track. In those games, any vehicle has a CHANCE to win. In this game Crimson Fury or Kamikaze will ALWAYS win. Unless you choose one or the other, you have absolutely no chance of winning. Missles and even special moves (with the exception of the magnet) will never knock the cars off of their path. In addition, going through checkpoints replenishes health.

Cage Matches force you to do battle in certain sections of a level surrounded by lighted green grids. If you stay outside the grid for too long, you take damage. The problem is that vehicles with less health/shields will usually die if you are not concentrating on making your way back into the "cage" at EVERY given moment. Less shields = more damage = death if you get lost enroute. I finally beat these levels with Mr. Grimm, but only because his special move does an insane amount of damage once you charge it up (160) and I killed each car with two direct hits and no misses. This does NOT work online with skilled players. Most people end up selecting the same tougher vehicles.

Other levels have Juggernaut trucks that endlessly respawn enemies. You must either destroy them and all the other vehicles on the map, or continue killing cars until you have reached a quota. This is more frustrating than fun, since it offers little opportunity to search levels for new weapons or ammo. Instead, you must destroy everything as quickly as possible and hope your vehicle spawns in a good location.

Throughout the 18 levels or so of single player there are only 2-3 REAL deathmatch battles. Ultimately this is where I feel most disappointed. Twisted Metal is NOT a FPS. Capture the flag (with gang leaders you return to a missle launcher), races, and cage matches really do not do the game mechanics justice. Combine that with a limited number of characters and cinematics, and I feel somewhat let down.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OVERALL:

So, all in all - the core mechanics are still great. Graphics have low textures, but are still manageable. The 9 cinematics are well done (although more would have been welcome), and the helicopter is a decent addition to gameplay.

Yet aside from VERY SPECIFIC online modes, a lot of this game just isn't as fun as previous entries. The bottom line is that most of the new modes do not work in context. I wish this had been a game that played to the strengths of the series without trying to revolutionize the core gameplay.

Twisted Metal is probably still a game worth buying, but I ABSOLUTELY recommend waiting until the price goes below $30.
7.5/10
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 4, 2014 6:29 AM PST


River Monsters Season 3
River Monsters Season 3
DVD ~ na
Price: $12.67
33 used & new from $8.63

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnetic Host, Bizarre Monstrosities and Cultural Wisdom: Season 3 DELIVERS!, January 1, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: River Monsters Season 3 (DVD)
River Monsters continues to exceed my expectations into its 3rd season. If you have never seen an episode in the past, prepare for hours of enthralling entertainment. If you are already a fan, know that Season 3 doesn't change its winning formula.

At its heart, River Monsters is a nature program dedicated to unravelling the mysteries of the world's largest or most dangerous fresh water species. However, some of the real magic comes from its minimal yet cohesive narrative structure related to personal encounters from indigenous people. Jeremy Wade serves as both narrator and host, often bridging the gap between local legend and the remarkable truths of reality. Possessing immense angling skills offset by down-to-earth approachability, a flair for adventure and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, he continually garners as much interest as the creature on the end of his line.

Perhaps my favorite part about River Monsters is that the program is entirely aware of the dangers that exist outside of the water when traveling to different continents. Jeremy Wade is always very culturally aware, and often has to tread thin lines when investigating animals in extreme locations. He is always eager to seek local knowledge, respect tradition and utilize the assistance of the community. When speaking to those who have suffered loss or injury he is sympathetic, yet composed and persevering.

For example, one new episode tries to unravel two Japanese legends - the Kappa and the Namazu. Jeremy travels throughout a huge portion of Japan to visit shrines and speak to experts about the underlying foundations of each myth. Then he goes into the wild to locate and catch the most likely creatures they represent. At no point in time does he mock the cultural beliefs, or dismiss the possibility that these legends are based on scientific fact. In another episode Jeremy finds himself in New Zealand fishing for long-fin eel. Fishing with a hook in one lake is against the law, so he meets up with local experts to learn their methods. By the end of the episode Jeremy is pulling in large eels with a piece of meat wrapped tightly in wool.

As for content, this season also continues to shine. It contains 7 regular season episodes and 3 bonus episodes, each between 40-42 min in length.
(These are episode names. I am purposefully withholding most species' names since unravelling the mystery of the attacks is part of the intrigue.)

REGULAR SEASON - All new species
1.) The Mutilator
2.) Flesh Ripper
3.) Silent Assassin
4.) Chainsaw Predator
5.) Electric Executioner
6.) Cold Blooded Horror
7.) Jungle Killer

BONUS EPISODES
8.) River Monsters Goes Tribal (Hand-Line Fishing for Sharks in Papua New Guinea)

**The Lost Reels: Based on footage from 2002-2005 (before River Monsters). Re-edited footage from earlier documentaries with Jeremy Wade. Contains some previous species, but all new footage including Jeremy's plane wreck in the Amazon.
9.) Amazonian Giant (Arapaima)
10.) Himalayan Giant (Goonch Catfish)

All in all, this series is AMAZING. The editing and music are excellent. The narrative framework and investigative approach to each episode is deeply engaging. The host is relentless in his pursuit, yet charismatic in his approach. At the end of every episode I feel culturally enlightened and mystified by what I've seen and learned.

Every time I watch this show I find it difficult to watch only 1 episode. To Jeremy Wade and those at Animal Planet - thank you for continuing to make such an astounding show and continuing to set such high standards. To everyone reading this review - if you are curious about this show or season, I can safely say you owe it to yourself to make this purchase. You will not be disappointed!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 15, 2012 5:54 PM PDT


Resistance 3 - Playstation 3
Resistance 3 - Playstation 3
Offered by NationWide Distributors
Price: $11.75
160 used & new from $4.53

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unrivaled Pacing and Astounding Design Skyrockets Resistance 3 to Unrecognizable Heights - A Single Player Campaign Review, September 9, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
- A Single Player Campaign Review using Dualshock 3. Does Not Cover Move Controls or Multiplayer.

Although borrowing elements from both its predecessors, the machinations of Resistance 3 storm through the failings of former titles. It is not an understatement to say that from the ashes of Resistance 2, this 3rd installment rises like a phoenix. Resistance 3 not only succeeds in recreating the mythos of an apocalyptic alien-infested 1950s America, but in crafting the most enjoyable FPS campaign experience I have had to date.

I own an extensive collection of shooters for the PS3 (Call of Duty entries, Call of Juarez, Battlefield 1 & 2, Bioshock 1 & 2, Singularity, Killzone 2 & 3, Crysis 2, Orange Box, FEAR 1 & 2, Resistance 1 & 2) and the Resistance series has always felt like it came up a little short. Resistance 1 had an interesting premise and a neat selection of weaponry, but the characters and storyline felt dry and gameplay was very by-the-numbers. Resistance 2 integrated boss fights, but removed the weapon wheel while adding the overused regenerating health feature. Levels for Resistance 2 became more constricted, and several enemy choices were poorly designed (i.e. swarm, invisible chimera). Every sequence or boss was foreshadowed by weapon placement, and was neither difficult nor exciting. Insomniac decided to take an extra year in development to integrate feedback from the community, and it was a WISE decision. Resistance 3 was not a game I had planned on purchasing, but is now my favorite FPS of all time.

From Resistance 1: ARSENAL, HEALTH BAR

Resistance 3 features a clock like weapon wheel wherein each number possesses a masterfully crafted weapon (12 total). All of the older weapons have been retuned or redesigned and new favorites like the Atomizer, Cryogun or Mutator offer an astounding diversity of gameplay options. Sound effects for old favorites like the Marksman are PHENOMENAL and visceral. Secondary fire modes feature extremely useful abilities (i.e. Atomizer's black hole grenades) and all guns are leveled up as they are used to acquire more enticing attributes. Shotguns gain incendiary fire and Bullseye bullets shatter on impact. The best part about the arsenal in Resistance 3 is that all upgrades apply to NORMAL fire. You do not have to find different ammo types, or select between modes. Your arsenal only gets more efficient and deadly as you progress.

Ammo is relatively plentiful, and I often found myself smiling while deciding which weapon I wanted to use at any given moment. Enemies also feature new weaknesses to exploit with accurate shots. Shooting a hybrid in the cooling tank will cause it to short circuit and explode. Blasting limbs can also dismember non-boss chimera. Coupled with unprecedented level design, the finely tuned elaborate weaponry of Resistance 3 keeps every shootout fresh and riveting. This is the FIRST FPS I have played where I hold every single weapon in the same high regard. Even the Bullseye (which I loathed in 1 & 2) is now an absolute riot to use.

The non-regenerating health bar makes its return to great effect in Resistance 3. Shootouts become more intense as you scramble across the field or dash into a shed to find a health booster. Insomniac has found a way to delicately balance your life bar, the amount of health pickups dropped or scattered, and the number or difficulty of enemies. MAN is it refreshing! The sound effects are spot-on and even the color spectrum makes things easily visible during chaotic firefights.

From Resistance 2: LOCATION DIVERSITY, BOSS FIGHTS

Resistance 3 takes place in America once again. The difference is that every location is unique and multilayered featuring incredible backgrounds and open battlefields. One level pays homage to Chronicles of Riddick (the pit below the prison), but accentuates the atmosphere while maximizing the ability to utilize environment to your advantage. Battling a gorilla-like Brawler in a ghost town as winds bend trees backwards and debris swirls around your head captivated me like no game since Killzone 2. From stampeding Widowmakers on a train to foggy mountainous sniper missions, Resistance 3 portrays America on a whole new level than Resistance 2. The story moves between a multitude of different states, but each features its own agenda, history and design. NOTHING is cookie cutter in this game.

Boss fights are equally impressive, as are the moments leading up to them. Resistance 3 doesn't simply throw a boss out into the mix. Rather, it features elaborately crafted moments that lead up to them. Even old enemies like the Widowmakers have been redesigned for epic firefights. These prodigious behemoths now feature target zones, and feel more like Dead Space than anything found in most FPS games. Does a shootout with a tunneling monstrosity named Satan on a runaway mine cart sound EPIC? Well, I assure you...it is nothing short of breathtaking.

New to Resistance: LEVEL DESIGN, SET-PIECE SEQUENCES, STORY

Resistance 3 radiates entropic atmosphere. Music, color-palettes, enemy design, setting and lighting constantly fire on all cylinders. Beyond every claustrophobic tunnel lies a vast network of areas to traverse. Choice on the battlefield was clearly a major conscious decision by developers. Snipe from a window, zip-line to a Steelhead and trample him with a shotgun, jump beyond a pile of rubble and deploy an auger shield as you take out a troop of hybrids. From high to low, East to West - Resistance 3's levels give you the tools to unleash vengeance from every weapon you own. More shockingly is that I NEVER ran into one of those invisible walls so prominent in other games. Each and every level was crafted with the same amount of energy and thought. This is only complemented further by the OUTSTANDING sense of pace within the storyline and gameplay.

Joseph Capelli is a much stronger character than Nathan Hale. He wears the desperation of humanity's bleak existence and the pride of a rebel's defiance through his visage and voice. He fights for a stronger cause than Nathan (the survival of his family), against more overwhelming odds, in more desolate times. The story does a fantastic job of providing continuity between different states by using CGI sequences. Each level carries directly into a CGI movie that returns you to the environment exactly where it leaves off. I was very impressed with how well the development team was able to lead the player from PA coal mines to a level 1 prison to the icy tundras of former NY. High-intensity shootouts are juxtaposed with slower moments of exploration dripping with ambiance. A slow boat ride through a flooded city is erupted by the bird-like screams of a long-legs Chimera. A reprieve at an underground rebel shelter ushers heightened levels of relief after a chaotic chase amongst a crumbling city to secure an explosive battery.

Enemies are unique and representative of their environment, actors are well voiced, and sound effects are impeccable. FINALLY we have a sound mixer who can mix everything to appropriate volumes at default levels. I had no issues hearing music, voices, enemy death-growls or weapon effects layered one upon the other. Enemies are divided into 3 main categories: Regular Chimera, Feral Chimera, and Marauder-like Humans. Journal entries provide insight into each main category of enemies, as well as behavioral differences and weaknesses of the individual enemy types contained therein. A handful of survivor audio logs (similar to Bioshock or Singularity) lie scattered about various levels, and notes provide detailed schematics of weapons as well as explanations of primary and secondary fire. Diary entries are on-par with the illustrations of Uncharted 2. Each and every one is beautifully penned with layers of hand-scribed notes! I was extremely impressed with the fact that everything in this game can be read. Chalk writing, spray paint, handwritten letters - everything looks natural and can be read without accessing the overlaying text font.

I must disclose that not EVERYHING is perfect in Resistance 3. NPC human models have an odd glow to them, and do not look cutting edge. Other graphical oddities (non-background) such as the cross-eyed dog in the first base also present themselves from time to time. The graphics and animations for any humans actually look a LOT like Singularity rather than AAA titles like Killzone 3. Animations can be stiff (especially ladder climbing), and faces have a glossed texture. It feels slightly jarring at times considering enemies and backgrounds often look stunning. In fact, the only time I was ever disappointed with the scenery and enemy placement was during the final level. Resistance 3 pays homage to both Resistance 1 and 2 by returning to a futuristic setting within a Chimeran base. Although it works within the context of the narrative, I was really hoping the last level would exhibit the pinnacle of American architecture in decay. With so many imaginative set-piece sequences throughout the 10 hour journey, I also lusted for one last epic showdown against a unique Chimeran Hellhound. The finale does break up the action well, but feels slightly diminished compared to earlier events.

I also ran into a few odd glitches during the game. I once "fell" (clipped) into the roof of a decrepit house while being chased by grims, but the "attic" was clearly not part of the playing field. I eventually jumped and ran against the far corner of the building until I popped back on top of the roof. Another time I lifted a wooden beam so that a NPC could proceed through a cave. My character went through, but the NPC was running against a rock. Re-lifting the beam and trying to push him away from the rock would not trigger him to pass through the area. I eventually just let an enemy kill me and had him follow more closely. Fortunately check points are very plentiful here.

Despite those few slight grievances, Resistance 3 is absolutely AMAZING to play. The Arsenal is Fantastic, the Levels are Expansive and Varied, the Enemies are Intelligent and Aggressive, and the Narrative is Unpredicatable. Resistance 3 is a tightly woven mix of atmosphere, gameplay and story - and IT IS SPECTACULAR! (9.2/10)


KMD Wii Buckshot with Intergrated Analog Controller Chrome Red
KMD Wii Buckshot with Intergrated Analog Controller Chrome Red
Offered by TOYS AND GAMES OUTLET
Price: $26.99

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Buckshot Has More Problems Than Just Button Accessibility, June 25, 2011
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
<<< Please Note That I Have Included Pictures to Go Along With My Review of the Buckshot. These Can Be Seen In the Product Description Photos Above. Sections of My Review Related to These Pictures Are Referenced by (@Photo) Below >>

I originally purchased the newer model of the Wii Crossfire to replace the Zapper and Wii Remote. I was not quite satisfied with the product and ended up returning it to Amazon (See my full review below). Ultimately, I decided I wanted to play more old-fashioned arcade style shooters that had less convoluted control schemes. I decided to keep the following games, and sell off the rest:

1.) House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return
2.) Ghost Squad
3.) Arcade Hits Pack: NY Gunblade and LA Machineguns
4.) Link's Crossbow

The remainder of my light-gun games can use any sort of Peripheral and only require using A + B. I regularly watch Classic Game Room Reviews on Youtube, and thought the Wii Buckshot looked like an interesting concept given his glowing praise.

***Since the limitations of the Buckshot's design (limited access to buttons) would not be a problem for me, I decided to give it a try. I already KNEW that the buttons would be inaccessible before I made the purchase, so this is not heavily factored into my review.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

The buckshot is quite large (4 inches longer than the zapper) and heavy (2x the weight of the zapper with nunchuk included), as other reviewers have stated. The pump-load on the bottom is very wide (wider than a real shotgun), which feels a little odd when holding. *(@Photo) Due to the length you really cant hold it out in front of you to use. Rather, you need to have the rear of the gun tucked against your side to accurately aim and have a more comfortable grip.

The Wii buckshot also has a very odd set of mechanisms to hit the button. The trigger hits the B-button in almost the same manner as the Zapper. A rounded lever pulls forward and depresses the button. *(@Photo) You can "rapid fire," but only as fast as you can fully pull the trigger and release it back to original position. Gravity helps the Zapper fire much faster since the trigger hits a lever up and down.

The "pump" section mechanically depresses the A-button. As you pull back the pump it moves a set of pegs running along both sides of the Wiimote that are attached in a wishbone figure and connected to a large spring at the base. These pegs fit into 2 holes in a flat piece of plastic connected with a separate spring located on the snap-down cover on top of the gun. This flat piece of plastic has a curved end (like a wide hook) that brushes against the A-button to depress it. You have to pull the pump ALL the way back to move the pegs enough to pull the curved plastic against the A-button. Does that sound complicated?? Well, guess what, it is! *(@Photo) Here's the problem with the way this is set up: 1.)The top lid has to be fully snapped close to use the pump feature or else the pegs will not lock into the plastic slider. You CANNOT remove (or leave open) the top cover for button access and still use the pump feature 2.) Both springs are not high quality, and the pegs are made from VERY brittle plastic - I guarantee you that rough use will easily break the slider or pegs. The springs will actually flex outwards as they are compressed.

The integrated nunchuk works adequately, but the joystick has a lot of give before reaching the point where it begins to move something onscreen (about 2mm in all directions). Once you reach that point, it actually seems tight. The joystick is smaller, has no texturing and thus is more difficult to use than an official 1st party nunchuk. The buttons also work fine, but everything is painted in the same slick red paint making it easy to slide off the button. The lock button for the integrated nunchuk also sticks against the paint as you try to move it through the groove towards the front.

Speaking of the red paint, There are patches all over the inside of the gun where the paint didn't reach. It looks like they used a spray-gun in a hurry. *(@Photo) Have you ever spray-painted something quickly and it overshot onto something else? Do you recall that "mist" of paint covering something nearby? Well parts of the inside have that look all over, like they spray painted the major parts of the interior and then just moved on. The WORST part is that the type of paint they used is CHEAP. When I put the Wii controller into the alloted space (1st party Nintendo controller) it fits tightly into the slot. When you use the ribbon to pull it out (think smoke detector battery ribbon) the Wii controller has red paint marks all over it. Most of them rub off pretty easily, but there are still a few small scratches and paint lines from using the Buckshot.

So...does the Buckshot WORK? Well, yes in a way... It provides a housing for the Wii that features a functional trigger for the B-button and a decent integrated nunchuk.

But...TAKE THIS INTO ACCOUNT:
--------------------------
1.) Almost NO games utilize the A-button to reload (most have you shake the controller or shoot/look offscreen), so the overly complicated pump feature is almost useless.

2.) The lid and interior is made from brittle plastic - MINE already had chips along the edges and I purchased it BRAND NEW from Amazon. The lid closure snaps (two pieces of plastic shaped like a hook) are made from the same type of material as well.

3.) The length and weight of the gun detract more than you might think (I initially thought they would add to the experience).

4.) This cannot be used with any games that require +/-, 1/2, or a separate reload shake from the nunchuk. (give it a try, it hardly ever works)

5.) The price tag is definitely NOT justified by the product.

Overall, 2 stars out of 5. For the price, The Crossfire is the better purchase even though it still has issues of its own.

When all is said and done, I have ultimately found myself returning to the Wii Zapper I was trying so hard to replace. I guess that speaks for itself.

*** FOR MY ORIGINAL REVIEW OF THE WII CROSSFIRE VERSION 2 Wii Crossfire Integrated Remote Pistol PLEASE SEE MY FULL LIST OF REVIEWS
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2013 4:02 PM PST


Wii Crossfire Integrated Remote Pistol
Wii Crossfire Integrated Remote Pistol

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crossfire Version 2 (w/ Motion +). More Functional, but Still Not Perfect, June 9, 2011
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I stumbled upon the Crossfire gun when trying to figure out a way to enhance my Goldeneye experience beyond the Wii Zapper. With the Wii nearing the end of its life-cycle, I also purchased several light-gun shooters through Amazon for cheap money.

PLEASE NOTE: I purchased (2) Crossfire guns directly from Amazon, and was sent the newer Motion (+) compatible versions that include an adapter you plug the Nunchuk into.

These are the games I purchased and tested this gun peripheral with:

1.) House of the Dead 2 & 3 Return
2.) Dead Space Extraction
3.) Goldeneye
4.) Metroid Trilogy (Prime series)
5.) Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
6.) Ghost Squad
7.) Arcade Hits Pack: NY Gunblade and LA Machineguns
8.) Link's Crossbow

The POSITIVES:
-----------------
1.) Most Buttons are much more accessible than other gun controllers. D-pad is responsive albeit slightly stiff.

2.) When working properly and calibrated within the game, the gun is fun to use and adds to the experience.

3.) Battery Life is LONG. I used the gun for about 10 hours without switching batteries (2000mah Eneloop) and had the speaker on high. This is a bit longer than normal.

4.) Speaker seems to be about the same quality as the Wiimote (which means it is still cheap sounding), but slightly higher in volume.

5.) Vibration seems a little more heavy hitting than the Wiimote, but not as refined (think off-road truck vs. sports car)

6.) LED lights are the same color blue as official controllers, which looks pretty good.

7.) Gun doesn't feel very cheap, although still not quite the quality of something like the PS3 sharpshooter plastic.

8.) Motion (+) adapters are included for free, although there really aren't any games that will utilize it aside from Wii Sports Resort Archery.

9.) Trigger has a good spring back to it, although the "click" (which activates the button as you pull) can slow down rapid fire shots just a bit.

The NEGATIVES:
-----------------
1.) The A button "clicks" into place slightly, and doesn't feel as responsive as the Wiimote. This made the Screw Attack in Metroid Prime MUCH more difficult than the original controller scheme. It is also at an odd angle for larger hands, although can still be used if you adjust your grip. (You have to hold it differently than a real gun to access both the A and B buttons easily)

2.) The negative button is VERY close to the Power button. (Power off button is slightly higher to the left) I once went to change my visor in Metroid Prime and shut off the system. All of buttons are very small, and of the same size and depth. It would be much harder to do this on the original remote.

3.) The gun handle is weirdly angled. I don't understand the concept behind this design. You end up holding your hands differently than with a real gun and aiming slightly up towards center.

4.) The sensor is OFF. I know other reviewers have commented on this, and it is indeed an issue. My sensor was about 3 inches to the right of what I was pointing the gun at onscreen (I have a 32" tv for reference). The Wiimote does NOT have this issue, and it is not a problem with the sensor bar sensitivity or placement. The sensitivity is set to 3 for both. Some games like House of the Dead and Links Crossbow will let you calibrate the gun, which fixes the problem once those settings are saved in the system. HOWEVER, Umbrella Chronicles and Dead Space will not let you change the position and was a HUGE annoyance for me. Another reviewer noted it didn't affect his playthrough, but for me it definitely had an impact.

Goldeneye was fine because you aim with the entire gun, which is not centered to your Wiimote either (James Bond's hands always start from center, even though you may be aiming from an angle). Metroid was so-so, because I was able to adjust the way I aimed at enemies. NY Gunblade provided a constant stream of bullets that felt more like "aiming a hose" at the enemies than pinpoint shooting. However, any game that requires precise shooting and extended reload time really throws you off. Carefully aiming in Dead Space and Resident Evil while trying to concentrate "only" on the onscreen reticule and not shooting from the hip detracted a LOT from the fun.

Games that Utilize the plus/minus buttons are difficult. I found a decent controller scheme on Goldeneye, but it required me mapping grenades and melee to the +/-. Thereafter, I rarely utilized those buttons because it meant taking my hand off the nunchuk and spinning my view towards the ground in the process. For both Metroid and Goldeneye I found that the Crossfire was easier to aim, but much more cumbersome than just using the Wiimote which didn't limit easy access to buttons.

5.) The DEAL BREAKER! As a 3rd party peripheral, the Wii has trouble recognizing this remote at times. If you power up the system and press A to turn on the Crossfire before the home menu is on, the sensor will not register. However, all of the gun's buttons will. You can hit the menu button in an attempt to reconnect the controller, but without a sensor you cant access it! You either have to remove the batteries (as I would do), restart the system, or use an official controller to hit the reconnect. This would also happen from time to time if you paused your game and the remote would turn itself off (like the official ones do). When you power the Crossfire back on, it may not register with your Wii sensor bar, and you will have to go back through the process. Once in a while the sensor will also spasm around the screen like crazy when you turn it on. When you turn the controller off and back on again (once again by removing batteries or carefully trying to control the wild remote through the menu) the problem is fixed and the sensor will properly register.

6.) The sensor is still "slightly" more sensitive than the official remote, so if you play too close to your screen it will make short jumps. Playing about 7-8 ft away on a 32" tv seemed to be the sweet spot with the sensitivity on 3 (normal). Changing the settings to something different than 3 only seemed to decrease functionality, rather than alleviate problems.

7.) Battery life readout is not as reliable as in official remotes. At times it would show 4/4 power after being played for 4 hours. When I would turn it off then back on at a later time it would give the correct readout at 2/4. Sometimes the better indication of low power is when the sensor starts to drift and the controller shuts itself on/off during gameplay.

8.) Several of the above games caused the gun's speaker to emit a constant high pitched tone between in-game sounds. It can be quite annoying if your tv speakers or headphones are not loud enough to drown out the noise.

OVERALL
-----------------

I'd give the Version 2 Crossfire a 3.5/5

When it works properly and isn't having sync issues or calibration problems it can be quite fun to use. If Penguin United had made a straight handle, mapped the A button slightly lower in a better indentation, corrected the targeting issues to put it on center, worked on system power-on compatibility quirks, and moved the power button further out this could have been a phenomenal product.

I find that it adds to the experience with some games (Gunblade NY, House of the Dead, Links Crossbow, Ghost Squad), but detracts from others (Umbrella Chronicles, Metroid, Dead Space).

I'm actually contemplating returning this right now. $70 for both guns is a lot of money to experience odd issues. The Wiimote doesn't "get you in the game" like a gun peripheral would, but having all of the buttons readily accessible and not worrying about adjusting the sensor position or having sync issues is a convenience I overlooked. I'm interested in how the Scorpion Vii compares to this gun.

In all, this is both better and worse than the Zapper depending on the game. Considering that most shooting games i own are on rails, for $35 (x 2) I think I'm leaning more towards a return to try out something else. If you can look past the negatives, give it a try. If (like me) you find them an issue, you might look at that original Wiimote a little more fondly.

*** FOR MY REVIEW OF THE Wii BUCKSHOT SHOTGUN Buckshot with Integrated Analog Controller - Chrome Red PLEASE SEE MY FULL LIST OF REVIEWS


Darksiders Greatest Hits- Playstation 3
Darksiders Greatest Hits- Playstation 3
Price: $14.96
138 used & new from $4.49

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the Shoulders of Giants - The Antithesis for the Favorable Negative Review, June 2, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
When DARKSIDERS was first released (Jan 5th, 2010) I scoured Amazon reviews for several weeks to determine whether it would be worth my time and money. The most convincing opinion of the time was that of the 2-star review stating the game was repetitive, uninspired and derivative. As a fan of Zelda and God of War I decided to rent the game with my Gamefly giftcard. Once I had finished scrubbing off the tiremarks and cigarette burns from the disc, my hour long playthrough led me to believe the review was spot-on and I returned the game without looking back. I was under the impression that time-limit combo sequences, copy-cat gameplay and formulaic environmental design was all that lay ahead. After all, those were the defining points of the 2-star review. ....BUT, just like his Apocalyptic Oppressors, I had dealt War and his allies a huge injustice. One I wish to set straight.

Fast forward to nearly 16 months later and a price drop of $40. Darksiders came highly recommended by another Amazon reviewer with high rated marks and similar genre interests. After playing for two hours I found myself ENTRANCED by this game. My initial disinterest in the title was clearly from not giving it proper time to develop into its own. The first hour serves as a tutorial for the game. However, it is embedded into gameplay in such a way as to make you unaware that you are being taught how to play while still holding the metaphorical reins. The small attention to detail, down to instructional direction, is inspiring. This game is clearly NOT made by amateurs. This game consistently provided me with challenging puzzles, a powerful narrative framework, ambitious variety and dynamic visuals.

GAMEPLAY:

War has such a HUGE arsenal of moves and artifacts that the pause menu is initially daunting. The game provides a steady stream of equipment and features a remarkable method of mapping these buttons in a manageable way. Although the game includes a selection of Link's gadgetry, Darksiders spins the angle to embrace the aesthetic and physical facets of the end of days. War doesn't have a boomerang that makes enemies spin and light red. He has a Crossblade than saws into his enemies with visceral accuracy and sadistic destruction. Darksiders' greatest achievement is in weaving innumerable gameplay elements into a cohesive package within a single atmosphere. I found myself shooting blue/orange portals to direct soul power, grappling across chasms, using a visor (mask) to see into a different realm, soaring through dilapidated cities on the wings of a griffon, blasting cannons across rickety bridges, and charging my fiery horse Ruin against tower-sized beasts. Darksiders has an UNCANNY ability to mold various properties into the mythos of Armageddon. If I had never played the games from which it borrows, I could easily have believed Darksiders pioneered the use of each and every relic.

The game took me 15 hours to complete, but would have taken me a few more to find all of the unlockable pieces of armor and upgrades. Different upgrade tokens can be assigned to different weapons and a multitude of combinations can be used to defeat enemies on your own terms. Do you want to play like Devil May Cry? - Use a powerful sword uppercut to lift the enemy into the sky and reign down bullets with your gun. Do you want to play like God of War? - Use your gauntlet to smash a horde of enemies and create a swirling vortex of souls with your Scythe to decimate their numbers. Start a combo by blowing the Earthcaller horn to stun some demons and club them with your home-run crushing Chaos Eater sword swing. Every combo has smooth camera work and stunning animation to augment War's abilities. You have near limitless control to play in the manner you prefer.

The Watcher (voiced by Mark Hamill) is a demon sent by the "Council" to keep War from disobeying his initial task. Holding "select" will call him forth to provide hints or direction for missions. This, in tandem with an excellent map and fast-travel Serpent Hole system, keep your progression constant while allowing you to backtrack at any point to collect new items. From the controls to the weapon and gameplay variety, everything in Darksiders is masterfully crafted and deeply engaging.

CHARACTERS:

War is a brilliant characterization of the Judeo-Christian horseman. He stands with impunity at the feet of Heaven and Hell's armies, ready to defend his honor and uphold his code despite the obstacles and cautions foretold by others. Despite drawing from religious mythos, I personally enjoy the creation of a character who can appeal to gamers from a plethora of religions and cultures. Rather than embody orthodox Christian overtones, War is an idealization of the solitary hero: resilient, adapting, discerning and powerful. War's voice acting is superb and does a phenomenal job of conveying defiance in the face of much larger enemies. To great effect, these enemies and allies also perpetuate a believable world caught in a supernatural struggle. Samael speaks with unearthly distinction and visuals that almost seem to draw ash and brimstone through your screen and into your living room. The Destroyer seethes deceptive charm like a proverbial serpent to waylay the gullible. Slitha bargains with cynical distress and convincing intonation. There are no characters within Darksiders that feel out of place or forcefully acted. Every enemy or ally speaks with sincerity and savvy. Every design is original, detailed and enigmatic.

SOUND AND VISUALS:

From Voice Acting to Music and Sound Effects, all of the sound in Darksiders is Top-Notch. The merchant Vulgrim impatiently clacks his skeletal hands for the Horseman's purchases with the same clarity as War's horse rising with gusto from the fiery ground. There are a multitude of locations which feature the same comic book style art, vividly bright visuals and bold design. From ashen deserts, crumbling highways, and lush valleys to decaying fortresses and cobwebbed dungeons, Darksiders moves beyond its subject material to visualize a colorful world typically represented with greys and reds. If you are inclined to like the stylistic nature of this game, everything is a visual treat. I had not previously been a fan of Joe Madureira, but this game easily won me over. Enemy and boss variety, environmental structures, and weapon/artifact models blend seamlessly into the surroundings.

A FEW MINOR QUIRKS:

Despite all of my glowing points,... the game has a few very small annoyances. Many of the upgradeable tokens feature similar attributes, and some will only work effectively when applied to certain weapons. A larger variety and the ability to map them to all weapons equally would have made them more appealing.

Minor weapon artifacts (Crossblade/Mercy Revolver/Earthcaller) will probably see less action in battle when exploring since you must have navigational artifacts (Portal gun/ Abyssal Grappling Chain/Mask of Shadows) assigned and selected to move about the terrain. Ultimately, this will cause you to rely more on the "true" secondary weapons (Scythe/Tremor Gauntlet) rather than constantly pausing to switch out gear in the menu. Having some artifacts automatically triggered when you aimed at certain points (Like Metroid Prime) may have been the better choice for grappling, using portals, or activating switches with the Crossblade. The grappling hook also only works in a straight line (meaning you cannot use it to reach some locations more easily once you have found the artifact).

Several sections also have reoccurring moments where enemies respawn and doors are locked, forcing you to combat them all. These are not terrible, but some seem to have been placed to extend game time in certain locations.

The flight sequence (similar to Panzer Dragoon) does not allow you to invert the cursor for shooting, which makes it difficult for people who are used to inverted controls.

These are very minor issues in relation to the final package.

CONCLUSION:

Overall, I cannot wait to play the next installment of this game. Darksiders was crafted by a team of highly skilled developers, clearly with the gamer in mind. If you judge this game based on the merits of an hour long tutorial (as I originally did), you are doing yourself a GREAT disservice. I recently replayed Zelda: Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime 2 and God of War 3. I can tell you this game is absolutely not a cookie-cutter representation of any one of those games. Although I enjoy playing all of them, I actually like the tone and atmosphere of this game slightly more. Moreover, the ending of this game is immensely superior to all three of those games. The last time I remember playing a game and feeling the end was worth my invested time was Uncharted 2.

DARKSIDERS is a fantastic package and comes highly recommended by a converted 2-star believer. (8.8/10)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 21, 2012 8:58 AM PST


Page: 1 | 2 | 3