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Just Cause 2 - Playstation 3
Just Cause 2 - Playstation 3
Offered by Boothill Sales
Price: $16.46
98 used & new from $10.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars pure fun broken into its base components, October 27, 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 

* Ridiculously huge world
* Grappling hook


* Lifeless characters
* Some weird graphical glitches
* Can't save dual thrusters across sessions

After logging over 60 hours of gameplay for the past year I've had this game, I figured I'm as qualified as anyone else to review it. First the good:

I've gotta say this is one of the funnest games I've ever played. In no other game do you get this feeling of being able to go ANYWHERE, horizontally or vertically. Sure, San Andreas and Far Cry 2 may have had huge maps (not sure which is bigger), but you're confined to a horizontal plane. Spider-Man 2 is similar in that it lets you literally go anywhere on the visible map, scaling as high as whatever building you can see, but the map was relatively small.

Through Just Cause 2's grappling hook system, this game lets you be creative and do anything you want, and most importantly, GO anywhere you want. I remember selling my friends on this game, and inevitably, my pitch would be the same everytime, I would say, "listen, this game is crazy, with this grappling hook, you can do anything, and I mean anything with it. You can shoot it at any object within a certain distance and propel yourself to it. You can tether one end of your hook to one object, and the other end to another object. So if you see a pedestrian walking you can shoot the hook into him, and then shoot the other end onto the speeding car coming by and let the chaos ensue.." This pitch worked EVERY time, and that last part is what finally sells them on the game.

Transitioning into some negatives, here's some problems. Through that scenario I just described of causing people to be dragged by cars, or just general antics you raise with your grappling hook, nothing you do to people in this game ever truly feels...consequential. For example, in GTA IV, there's a very satisfying feeling you get when you shoot a random pedestrian in the in the head, or even running people over can be fun in doses. In JC2, "messing with people" isn't FUN as I feel like it should be. As the bullet point above said, the characters are just so lifeless. They literally feel like sprites on the screen, so hanging them from a light post or watching their bodies get dragged 30 feet in the air from a propane tank out of control just doesn't have any IMPACT impact to me. In case you disagree with me, try this as a thought experiment, just picture for just one second in your mind how you would feel/react doing this to someone in GTA IV's world. Right? Huge difference right? I've thought about this for awhile, and I haven't figured out if this disconnect exists simply because of the below average graphics of the characters, or if it's their relative lack of [verbal] response to what should be horrific acts of trolling I'm committing. Maybe a combination of both.

Now about the dual thrusters, it doesn't feel fair to hold something against the game that wasn't even part of the original game on launch, and came in as additional downloadable content. But what's fair right? When something becomes so INTEGRAL to your gameplay, it feels GIMPED to play it ANY other way. Come on, there's no way you can go from having full airborn maneuverability, to a basic parachute where your only means of getting speed is to shoot the ground, launch your parachute, and repeat (which feels strangely similar to Super Mario World's flying mechanic..). Bottom line: you shouldn't have to buy your parachute every single time you load the game, only if you die.

Some other minor stuff here- I don't understand why they failed to include a "climbing over" animation. Absolutely mind numbingly annoying how if you grapple hook to an object, if you didn't shoot your hook close enough to the edge of the object to where you'll clear it, you're stuck hanging there, and the only way to get over the edge is to shoot your hook above yourself again. Hard to describe in words, but just imagine if you were hanging off of some rooftop ledge, and instead of just hoisting yourself up and climbing over, while hanging there you have to shoot at the chimney 3 feet in front of you so that you'll "clear" the edge of that ledge. There is a jump button but it won't work if 1) the ledge is too high above you, or 2) you're actually vertically hanging down off something, in which case the jump button becomes disabled. This makes for some ridiculous situations, such as being one foot off the ground hanging to a fence, and having to grapple over it, all because they didn't include an "auto climb over" animation/function like most other games (most recent game to come to mind is the Uncharted series, they did this PERFECTLY).

One final negative, but is it just me, or are the buying of cars/upgrading car via car parts completely useless? Does anyone do this? I can't think of a scenario where I would spend my hard earned money to buy a vehicle that I'll probably drive to the end of the bridge then proceed to parachute out of to fly over the forest or body of water.

I know I said more negative things than positive things, but trust me, this is definitely an upper echelon game. There's just not much you can say to describe how fun it is to be able to traverse who knows how many square miles and have that world at your fingertips. It may not be a technical masterpiece, and the story...well, but anyway it's still an amazing game all true gamers should experience.

Remember, if you're reading this, I want a job with you. I'll take minimum wage. Please, give me a chance, I need to work in the video game industry doing ANYTHING. Willing to relocate.

Resident Evil: Afterlife
Resident Evil: Afterlife
DVD ~ Milla Jovovich
Price: $10.33
127 used & new from $1.52

7 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars time to change the writer/director, October 10, 2010
This review is from: Resident Evil: Afterlife (DVD)
Or something. I don't know. Something needs to be done. That's two bad Resident Evil movies in a row.

There's something about these last two Resident Evil movies that are lacking. There's this weird sense of bland, hollowness as you're watching it. Nothing about it engages you, it leaves you feeling like a distant spectator. I was bored out of my mind.

There's just no feeling of purpose or goal. The characters are just wandering from scene to scene, with some vague sense of some nebulous destination in the near future, but it just doesn't feel significant. The relationships between the characters are never fully explored, such as between Chris and Claire Redfield, and you just generally don't care about anything that's going on, you're just "watching."

I like the inclusion of Michael Scofield, and his being "broken out of prison." Nice nod to the Prison Break series, of which only the first two seasons count, as everything after that are just abominations to mankind in its purest form.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 28, 2010 7:01 PM PST

Nine Dead
Nine Dead
DVD ~ Melissa Joan Hart
Price: $8.75
58 used & new from $0.86

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh I remember her from my childhood - "Clarissa Explains it All"...I didn't know she was the worst actor alive, May 24, 2010
This review is from: Nine Dead (DVD)
I'll get to that in a moment.

For about as many unwanted Saw sequels we've had, it feels like we have about twice as many clones. Surprisingly, this one was executed in a way I haven't seen done prior, but it all ultimately goes back to putting strangers in a room.

**Rant about Melissa Joan Hart's acting**

Despite what I said in my other reviews where I might've mentioned that someone might've been the worst actor I've ever seen, Melissa Joan Hart in this movie takes the cake. I don't know if she's just not good in portraying the emotion of fear, but her acting singlehandedly kept me intrigued and glued. It was a guilty pleasure, very rarely do I get to see someone perform so badly at their craft. Her facial expressions were RIDICULOUS. She gestures and contorts her eyes, mouth, and particularly her EYEBROWS in unnecessary, cartoon-like ways. She puts the wrong emphasis on the words she's speaking, and delivers every line 'Nickelodeon style,' as if she's "giving it her all" on each line so you don't miss anything. Complete overacting, no nuance or subtlety. I haven't seen her in other movies, so I won't flat out say she's the worst actor ever, but this was the worst PERFORMANCE I've seen.

**Problems with the movie**

The story within the story was actually pretty decent and competently written, but the movie itself reeks of amateurishness. No wonder the writer of the script has this movie as his only credit for work he's done. I'm going to bookmark his IMDb page and periodically check to see if he does anything else, I'd surprised if he does. The story of how they were all connected to each other and how it relates to the masked kidnapper was intricately woven. That part was fine, it was the dialogue and the acting that killed this movie.

Here's the most infuriating thing- So the kidnapper comes in every 10 minutes to kill someone if they haven't figured out why each of them are being held captive right? Well, every time he comes in and chooses the person to kill, he gives them one last chance to explain why they're there, and if they get it right, he'd let them all go. All that these characters did was just try to reason by saying things like, "we need more time to figure it out." Don't you think you'd be speaking a hundred miles per hour on all the atrocities you might've done in your life and hope you guess right??? I'm sure anyone can imagine if they were in such a situation, you'd be nervously stumbling and stammering over words, but to not even so much as venture a GUESS is ridiculous. And yes, I realize the rules the kidnapper layed out was that each victim, upon their turn, had to not only guess why he or she was there, but why *everyone else was there as well. I have two counters to this:

1) When your life is on the line, and you think you have something to offer the killer as to what he's looking for, are you going to play by the rules? So what that you didn't meet the second qualification of knowing why the others were there, would you not tell this guy what "evil" things you think YOU might've done and hope you guess right? Clearly EACH person had a good idea of why they themselves were there, it was clear through the dialogue.

2) Even if you don't agree with my opinion above, then how about when there came a time in the movie where the characters more or less had the whole damn chain of events of the puzzle solved, with just a few missing pieces (at that point they still didn't figure out how the medical dude fit into the story). So they have 90% of it figured out, the killer comes in, and not ONE PERSON EVEN TRIES TO SELL HIM ON THEIR THEORY. The idiot cop just said something about, "we have most of it figured out, we need more time." WHY DON'T YOU TELL HIM WHAT YOU KNOW SO FAR YOU MORONIC IMBECILE. What, do you think he's going to prematurely kill you if you get the story wrong? And going even deeper into my abyss of madness (i.e., logic), I could sort of even understand why the other people who's turn hadn't come yet wouldn't say anything, so as to not bring attention to themselves by offering the solution (and potentially getting it wrong, and yeah, maybe being killed for it), But, if it's YOUR turn to die, and the killer is in your face, giving you one last guess to solve the puzzle, WHY WOULD YOU NOT TELL HIM WHAT YOU THINK YOU KNOW SO FAR??????????? Patrick Wehe Mahoney is probably the dumbest person on the planet. He's the writer..

Another stupid part:

Melissa Joan Hart said something about how a jury wouldn't rely on the testimony of a "60 year old woman." OMG, 60!! She's practically a dinosaur right? There's no way a 60 year old can remember something. this writer like 15 years old? Only young, dumb kids would think 60 is "senile and old."

Heavy Rain - Greatest Hits
Heavy Rain - Greatest Hits
Offered by King Beardo
Price: $27.00
97 used & new from $11.03

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Choose Your Own Adventure, March 15, 2010
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
While this is not a perfect game, it does have the distinction of being one of the most unique gaming experiences I've had, and definitely has hands down the best looking characters and facial animations in a game to date.

There's that old cliché' that's always used, "it's so real it's just like watching a movie," and that's usually not the case, not even close. Heavy Rain however, lives up to that, as this is as close to an interactive movie we've had in gaming. I guess to be completely accurate, I shouldn't say Heavy Rain resembles a movie as if graphically it's photo realistic and nearly indistinguishable from a movie (although what I said about facial animations still holds true). I guess it's like a movie in terms of characters, narrative, and cinematic storytelling.

This is pretty much the video game version of the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Despite what other reviewers may say, this is definitely a game of quick-time events, where you choose what happens next either by succeeding or failing at said event, but it's done seamlessly and intuitively so as not to seem like a gimmick. I'm not the biggest fan of this type of gameplay, but what kept me intrigued was the story, which I felt was the strongest part of the game. I'm not a movie expert, but to me personally this game's story rivals the stories I've seen told in crime/mystery/drama type movies. All the characters had depth that made you care about them, and the way we go from controlling one of the four main characters to another is just like when a movie cuts from the main character to a secondary character in a different setting. I wanted to go forward to learn more, and as the game concluded, and we learned who the killer was, I was definitely surprised, but it made perfect sense. It was a motive you could believe in. Everything fit together perfectly. Unlike a movie (or a dvd with no extra bonus features), this game has the advantage of having multiple endings, and by multiple, I'm talking double digits. But for me, once I got my one set of endings, I had NO inclination to play it again to explore other gameplay possibilities or endings. This was due to two main gameplay flaws that I was not about to subject myself to sit through again:

1) The walking controls are ridiculous. There is no reason why I should have to hold down R2 to walk. As it is, if you use the left analog stick without the R2 modifier, your character basically tilts their head in that direction, allowing you to sort of move the camera that way. No, THAT should be what the modifier does; Have the analog stick move you by default, and ONLY if you choose to want to look in a direction should you have to press R2. Think about it, at any given moment, were you doing more walking or `head tilting' in the game? In fact, did you ever head tilt other than those few moments where you're prompted to by the game with that little circular motion thing telling you to search your surroundings? Maybe once or twice right? See my point?

2) Also, the walking is way too slow. It's too drawn out. I can't play through the whole game again with these slow motion walking characters. I realize this is probably a realistic pace to walk in, but since it's a game, they should've given me the option to run (how's that for the use of the R2 button eh?), or at least speed up the default walking speed. It feels like a chore to move from one spot to the next. Again, had they let you move with just the left analog stick, MAYBE this wouldn't have been as big of an issue (believe it or not, holding down R2 is actually fatiguing).

3) Ok, this one isn't so much a flaw as it is personal preference I guess. With the game's environments looking as great as it did, it sure would've been nice to be able to interact with it more. At any given point, you might be in a room with some of the most detail you've seen in a game, but unable to do anything with it other than doing that damn head tilt or switching between the two default cameras to see what else there is to look at. Generally speaking, some of the button prompts you get when you walk up to an object to interact with it isn't really even an interaction at all because it's not YOU doing it. Essentially, you're just triggering a cutscene by choosing to wash your face, or picking up that object off the ground. What I would've loved to been able to do is switch to a first-person view and look around and have fun. All those fun environments to check out in first-person: the night club, the party mansion, hec, inside of the apartments. My guess on why you couldn't do this is because these are all pre-rendered scenes, and you're not really moving a character and exploring, so much as "moving the picture to the left or right" and seeing what else is on the canvas. With it being pre-rendered, the objects you want to examine in detail simply cannot be viewed from "that angle," because there's no instance of it from that perspective. Hmmm...but then again you have those handful of levels where it's a third-person above the shoulder view, and it does feel like you have a free camera to rotate around and work with (like the police station). Oh well, I can't explain it from a technical level, that's why I'm in school for game development :) All I know is that these wonderful environments they created felt all too much like a movie since all I could do is WATCH IT.

Again, that third and final complaint I wouldn't defend too strongly, I concede that these types of gameplay mechanics could just be a function of the kind of game it is, and that me complaining about that is like complaining that a basketball game doesn't have enough Platforming elements to it. It is what it is. Had the controls not been flawed this game would've been amazing, and had tons of replay value. But even as it is, this is unique game with a deep, engaging story, and a perfect soundtrack. Definitely a must rent, or buy it if you don't mind the control problems, or if you're really really into QTE games.

The Book of Eli [Blu-ray]
The Book of Eli [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Denzel Washington
Price: $14.68
91 used & new from $1.70

4 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A shallow, pseudo-action movie protected by the guise of religious pretense, January 20, 2010
(i.e., just like when one of those criminally ignorant athletes makes the ridiculous proclamation of having "god" on their side that day, that enabled him to score the winning goal unit for his team).

Yup, I began my review as a footnote to the subject line.

I had no knowledge of this movie beforehand, but I did have a couple of expectations based on what I saw of the commercials, and what a friend of mine told me.

1) I expected an epic, post-apocalyptic tale that completely engages you, and draws you into its gritty, dark world.

2) A friend of mine said he's never seen a crowd that quiet after the show. I took that to be a positive thing.

Only one of the two items listed above turned out to be true.

Let me cut straight to the chase- you take the religious aspect out of this movie and you're left with an average flick with bad pacing, ZERO character development, and poor directing.

What does it matter if it's The Bible or not? It's about a dude carrying a book and headed West because that's what god wants him to do. That's the story right there. And then you've got Meg from Family Guy teaming up with him, who rivals Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns as far as epic miscastings go.

**Usually in a movie where you're following one central character in a huge, lonely world, you really get engrossed with that character and really care about what happens next. Here they forgot about character development so nothing really mattered. We're just watching Denzel with glasses and a beard.

**While the fighting scenes were flashy, I don't like their choice of how they shot it, or portrayed his character. It's definitely fun to see Denzel as a total badass on-screen, but I don't get how his fighting skills are up to the level of being able to dispatch enemies in seemingly mere nano-seconds with absolutely RAZOR SHARP precision and accuracy, with NO MISTAKES. With or without the spoiler, that still doesn't explain it. This portrayal took away from the realism and made him seem like some superhero, or invincible. Was there any explanation given as to why he's able to operate in this manner? Was it because god was protecting him? That's a cop out answer. Is god the answer to anything that can't be explained with rational logic? Oh wait..

**Denzel and Meg from Family Guy had no chemistry in this movie. She plays the cookie cutter 'young, attractive girl fascinated by mysterious older man' role to a tee.

**How is it that a no name wannabe movie critic can see a a movie and easily point out the number of unnecessary (and embarrassing) slow motion shots in a movie, yet professional movie makers can't, and in fact, readily DOUSES the movie in it.

**My reviews aren't complete until I whine and moan about a character's decisions and illogical actions in a movie. Well we're at that point. The morning after Meg from Family Guy leaves Denzel's cell and goes to see her mother and Gary Oldman, she gets questioned by Gary Oldman about whether or not Denzel had a book. Just look at this scene, she could've EASILY just lied and said no. But instead, here she is cowering like a mindless retard, even as her mother gets threatened, she's standing there as if she's trying hard to hold in a secret, when in fact, all she had to do was adamantly state that THERE WAS NO BOOK and she has no idea what he's talking about. The kind of actions seen here would be the kind where some powerful mind reading overlord has someone captured, and that captured person knows that the overlord can easily see past his lies due to his supernatural abilities, so when questioned, he's very hesitant to lie because he knows the repercussions of lying, and so is more or less paralyzed with fear, not knowing whether lying or telling the truth would be the better choice. THAT SCENARIO DIDN'T APPLY HERE WITH MEG GRIFFIN AND GARY OLDMAN.

Hughes Brothers, lol. These clowns should've stayed retired.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 1, 2010 7:14 AM PDT

UFC Undisputed 2009 - Xbox 360
UFC Undisputed 2009 - Xbox 360
Offered by Quick Buys
Price: $5.49
212 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars I respect the effort, but they MUST fix the fighting mechanics next year, December 28, 2009
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Although I didn't give this game a high score, I definitely like the potential that I see in this franchise. This is THQ's first attempt at an MMA game, and for its first outing it's pretty respectable. As long as they polish some of the flaws in the game in next year's version, they've got the potential for it to be a near flawless fighting game.

As a huge UFC/MMA fan, I can definitively tell you that apart from the ONE main (and major) flaw, this is as authentic as it gets. This game was made by people who obviously have done their homework on the various fighting aspects of MMA (or were fans of it to begin with), and the broadcast production of UFC. They've incorporated every single last aspect of the sport here. Everything is authentic, from the graphical presentation and layouts, the commentary, and the different aspects and positions of fighting. Unfortunately, this last point I just mentioned about the fighting is the game's biggest flaw, and ultimately dropped the fun factor way down for me.

Now here's what's wrong with it:

I'm sorry to say this, but in this fighting game, the fighting is pretty flawed. Three major problems with the fighting mechanics:

1) Hitting your opponent just doesn't feel satisfying at all. With the exception of the high head kick, none of the punches or kicks have any impact behind them, and you never truly get the feeling you're damaging your opponent. I guess the boxing style hook punches are pretty impactful too, but not as much as you would think they should be. I don't know if it's a combination of the sound effects and the animation of the fighter when they get hit, but every hit just feels so damn weak. Here's the thing, I don't expect a mere jab to knock you down, unless you're Forrest Griffin, but I expect it to have a little more impact than a yellow spongy Nerf ball being shot out of a plastic toy gun.

2) I have a problem with the standup fighting in this game. It feels so mechanical, robotic, and formulaic. The two of you walk towards each other awkwardly, begin exchanging punches, and whoever has the frame advantage will continue to get their shots in first, so the other person is forced to defend and slowly backstep out of reach. Rinse and repeat; this is how every fight goes if you keep it on the feet. Sure, there will be moments where you stay out of the pocket and stay in kicking range, quickly throwing out a quick leg or body kick, and quickly back off again, thereby trying to slowly pick apart your opponent, but ultimately the fight is going to be a variation of the two of you getting into each other's faces, trading weak looking punches, until one of you gets a flash KO, assuming that his stamina bar was low enough. Obviously you have the option of taking the fight to the ground, or clinching, but I'm specifically criticizing the standup fighting mechanics here.

3) The movement of the fighters: The fighters are very mechanical and awkward to control. There's no fluidity to the movement when you move them around the ring. I was going to criticize the lack of upper body and/or head movement, but this is the UFC, so this is absolutely authentic (with a handful of exceptions like Anderson Silva, BJ Penn, Rampage, Melvin Guillard, and a few others I'm sure I'm missing). Seriously though, I would like to see the right analog stick used in conjunction with a modifier button to control your head and body. Imagine the precision you would have as you move the right analog stick slightly to the side, and see your fighter barely slip a jab or cross, or press the analog stick completely down, as you duck a wild hook. That would make the fighting infinitely more versatile and deep. It sure beats the Rock Em Sock Em Robots style fighting mechanics they've got going now, don't you think?

The single other major problem with the game is the pathetically shallow career mode. Why is it so short? You could finish this in two days. Also, the method of training and upgrading your stats needs to be fixed. It consists of you clicking through a few screens to simulate what attribute you want to train that week, then rest, train some more, then sparring. Yes, I realize this is exactly what happens in real life (more or less), but they WAY you do it here couldn't have been more boring. Basically you're just pressing A or X through a few screens, repeating it, until your upcoming fight, and then you fight. You repeat this press again over and over, and there's just so many cumbersome screens you have to skip through (because at this point you're trying to skip through all those inconsequential screens about sponsorships and new training camps [do those training camp sparring partners even make a difference?]).

I also wish they could've given the option of using a current UFC fighter in career mode. Basically, you play a sports game usually to use the stars you like. Other than a meaningless exhibition battle, or an online match, you NEVER get the chance to use the UFC stars. You can't tell me "well if you want to fight as a current UFC star so much, why not do an exhibition match, you can use them all you want then." That's complete nonsense. An exhibition match is completely MEANINGLESS. It's purely for practice. I'm not sure if sports fans will back me up on this, or if this is just my extreme opinion, but that's like having Madden, or NBA 2K, and not having the option to do a Franchise/Season/Association mode. You can use your favorite team for ONE meaningless match, but you can't progress through a stat tracked season, where the consequences of winning or losing are in full effect. You can play a bunch of random exhibition matches over and over, or play online. I NEVER play exhibition matches in a sports game other than the first few, just to get the hang of the game. So with this career mode being this short, and if you happened to buy this game and agree with me about exhibition matches, then guess what? Once you beat the career mode, YOU HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO. You either start a new career, or you play online, and that's going to get old very quickly.

Random points:

**I really like the ground game here. Between all the transitions from half-guard to full-guard, side control, submission attempts, and all the different struggles on the ground, they really knew what they were doing here.

**I like the feel of the game and how they incorporated this whole "finishing your opponent" mechanic into the game. It's realistic how you can hurt your opponent (standing or on the ground) and have the small window of opportunity to "finish him off," or have your opponent recover.

**Commentary is great, with Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg enthusiastically reacting after a huge hit on your opponent, or as you finish him off.

**When you're playing online, and have the prefight presentation feature turned to ON, why is it that you can't skip ANYTHING? Conversely, if you have the presentation option turned OFF, they show NOTHING. What, not even between the round replays? Nothing at all.

**They have a lot of signature style fighter specific things in the game, but fighting style is not one of them. I really hope next year they can make each fighter fight more uniquely. Each fighter just feels like a palette swap of a boxer, kickboxer, or Muay Thai style fighter. The pre-fight stances as they introduce you are accurate to their real-life counterparts, but during the fights themselves, the movements and the striking all feel the same.

With all this said, I'm actually going to be keeping a really close look at EA's MMA game. I'm just not too confident of how the next UFC Undisputed game will be, because of the developer, Yukes. Yukes also makes the Smackdown VS Raw games, and after almost a decade, I just don't like the `feel' of their fighting mechanics. Something about the button inputs to do moves on those wrestling games didn't feel intuitive to me. I much preferred the last two N64 wrestling games made by the same publisher, THQ, but an entirely different developer. Imo, those were better than any Smackdown VS Raw game put out. We'll see how it goes, but if I don't like Yukes' fighting game mechanics after a decade, I'm not sure how this is going to change in just one year.

Grand Theft Auto IV - Xbox 360 (Standard Edition)
Grand Theft Auto IV - Xbox 360 (Standard Edition)
Price: $15.44
392 used & new from $3.88

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars far from perfect, and not very close to great, December 14, 2009
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Revised version of IMMT 115, HP7

Unlike most professional reviews, I don't feel this game deserves the perfect, or near perfect scores it received across the board. The gameplay is repetitive, the graphics are above average at best, and certain gameplay functions are broken. I'll give this game an A for effort and a C+ in its content, execution, and fun factor.

While not up to the same extinction level media hype that Modern Warfare 2 received, the release of GTA IV was definitely the video game event of the year when released (I myself took four vacation days off from work to play it). Really the only reason it received such high scores is because of the fact that it was the next GTA game, and the first one of this console generation. Naturally, that means an upgrade in graphics. And while the graphical jump from San Andreas to GTA IV is obviously gigantic with this new generation, compared to other games released during (and even before) this time, the graphics are just not all that great. It's just a combination of greys and browns, and everything looks oversaturated. Also, the character models are about on part with other games released during this time, nothing too spectacular, although this is understandable, given the nature of a wide open game like this.

As far as the explorable world goes, I'll say that the level designers did a great job. Part of what gives this game the feeling of grandeur is its very real sense of scope. This is the most realistic depiction of New York City in a game, and that's no small feat. What would've been more interesting though is if they could've had more variety in the types of locations, and maybe different terrain, etc. Gameplay-wise, it becomes very boring driving around the city, or driving to your next mission destination because it all more or less looks the same- it's just building after building after building, with streets and sidewalks. This is a step down from its predecessor, San Andreas, where one moment you're deep in the hood driving past gangbangers, then next you're up in the hills of the suburbs, and next you could be in a wide open countryside going 80mph towards a mountain, a mountain you can climb no less. This design decision made it so that I'm constantly choosing to take a taxi to all of my destinations and use the "skip" option to instantly arrive at my destination.

I really wish they could've implemented more indoor locations to explore. Sure you've got your occasional bar, bowling alley, and strip club, but that's it. The hundreds of other buildings in the game might as well be a flat 2D backdrop, similar to the background in Hill Valley in Back to the Future part 1. It feels shallow and empty with all these buildings you can drive past, with 99% of them being unexplorable. Going back to my previous paragraph about the lack of varied terrain, one may argue against me by saying "exactly how much variety can you give New York City, it's an urban location for god sake's." Well that's true, but had it not been for the lack unexplorable indoor locations, I wouldn't have a complaint about the repetitiveness of the graphics. In other words, my whole argument is saying that due to the lack of terrain, it's pointless to drive since all you see are the same streets and buildings; BUT, if some of these locations were more explorable, and able to be interacted with, then I wouldn't have a problem driving around, since at any given time, I might see a location that looks fun to play around in, and that would be my incentive to stop the car, and go explore the inside of that building.

Speaking more about the gameplay, the missions were repetitive. I can't complain too much, because fundamentally speaking, GTA is basically one big fetch mission: go to point A, drive to point B, murder person C, and extract item D. There's a culmination of reasons why I originally quit this game probably 20 hours into it, but the two major factors were: 1) the driving physics, and 2) the star system. These two things to me broke the gameplay, and made it feel like a task, instead of fun, number two primarily. First though, the driving; put simply, you CANNOT drive properly. You can't turn without completely slowing down, and everything about maneuvering the vehicle feels very unresponsive and very unintuitive. Just maybe, this is what all the physics and math equations work out to when implementing a 100% realistic engine, but you know what, it makes the game less fun, for the sake of realism. The second problem with driving is the fact that due to the camera being too close to the ground, whenever you're going up even a very slight incline, you can't see anything coming towards you. You HAVE to keep your right thumb on the right analog stick and manually keep the camera positioned in a slightly upward tilted angle, otherwise you're going to crash head first into cars or just trees on the sidewalk (trees being the one thing that's forbidden to run over in this game....). There's no excuse for this. What, did the beta-testers and quality assurance not DRIVE in the game so completely missed this flagrantly broken aspect of the game?

The second problem with the gameplay as I stated earlier was the star system. It's too easy to get stars, and there are way too many cops. In previous GTA games you could decide to be a little mischievous and maybe randomly fight people on the street, or even kill them. In this GTA, cops are seemingly everywhere, and anything you do will have them on your tail, even if you've previously made sure to check for patrolling cops on foot or in cars. I'm not speaking of full blown murdering sprees, OBVIOUSLY that's gonna get you stars, and I welcome that. I'm specifically just referring to randomly killing one harmless dude on the street, or just stabbing him or fist fighting him. These are the little things that made the game fun previously; little side distractions and diversions to break up the monotony of the missions. But now with the inclusion of invisible cops that pop out as soon as you commit a crime, out of the most impossible places, it becomes a CHORE to quickly hop in a car and elude their search radius. You're far better off simply not committing the crime in the first place, and just play the game straight. This right here ultimately killed the game to me. It was no longer GTA since I could no longer commit minor crimes for fun without having to immediately flee the scene.

Random points:

**I hate when a game makes a downgrade from its previous version, because it's "too hard" to implement these previous features into the new game. Why can't I swim underwater anymore? Why can't I purchase property anymore? How about a larger variety of clothing to buy? If any game needed the option for masks, it's this game. Niko Bellic is one ugly, unattractive mofo. I'm not gonna get into it here, but Metal Gear did the same thing with these unfortunate downgrades. Think of some of the gameplay functions and extra things you could do (and easter eggs) that were in Sons of Liberty, that completely got scrapped from parts 3 and 4. Just think about it.

**The walking is sooo weird in this game. The way you sort of swivel when you turn, feels like you're weighed down by some giant magnet. And I thought Resident Evil 5's walking/turning mechanics were stiff.

**The graphics on the strippers look very bad. When you go in the back for a private lap dance, the VIP booth you're walking into might as well be a time portal back to 2001, to the time of PS2 graphics.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 24, 2009 6:22 AM PST

Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead (Unrated)
Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead (Unrated)
DVD ~ Nicki Aycox
Price: $13.48
50 used & new from $2.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed part 1, but this is one of the worst movies in the last 10 years, December 3, 2009
It's been almost a year since I wrote my last movie review. I just sort of lost the motivation. It would take a movie so bad that I would have no choice but to castigate all involved in said film, and it's Joy Ride 2 that has this dubious honor.

Story: Four idiots break down on the road, they break into a house, steal a car, after which the psychotic owner kidnaps one of them, and the rest of the movie is based on them trying to recover their friend.

Although I've seen plenty of bad movies in the past year, I'm not sure if any one of those had the combination of being this flagrantly bad in terms of BOTH acting and writing. Usually it's a combination of both, where one aspect might be pretty bad, while the other only makes you want to kill yourself just a little bit. This pile of trash is literally at the lowest end of the scale for both acting and writing, and here are some reasons:

**As a bad writing example, the fact that the main girl left her number for the owner after they stole the car. If anything, she should've left a note saying they'd return the car as soon as they could, and apologize. Since this is basically the catalyst to jumpstart the movie, I'll let this pass.

**Bad acting by the main girl after she runs into the parking lot after learning her boyfriend is kidnapped. In general, her dialogue and emotion didn't fit- at times where she should've been panicked and desperate, she comes across sounding angry, wrong choice. By the way, when her cell phone rang in this scene, why did she answer "Bobby are you OK?" as if there were any chance that it would even BE Bobby on the other line? She just got done talking to the kidnapper, why is she assuming it's her boyfriend that would be calling?

**I don't see how that emo dude should've so confidently talked trash about truckers in a diner FULL OF THEM. Also, I thought it was unrealistic how the two girlfriends were sort of going along with the emo dude's insults about the truckers, just smiling. It came across like they genuinely thought it was funny, most girls would've told him to shut up and get his act together.

**In that strip tease scene, when she approached the truck assuming that Rusty Nails was behind the wheel, when the decoy shows his face, her reaction is just..all wrong. Yes, WE as the audience are taken by surprise that it's not the actual kidnapper and instead it's some hillbilly retard, but HOW DOES SHE KNOW?? Why did she immediately come to the conclusion that they'd been tricked and he wasn't the actual kidnapper? And the way she screamed "Bobby" was worse than Darth Vader's "noooooo."

**The scene I hated most was when the emo dude was chosen to dress up in a wig and dress, and the way the main girl went into movie cliché 'badass' mode to convince him to do so. After he refuses, she puts a scalpel to his neck and calmly tells him what he needs to do. Any other emotion would've been fine, she could've acted hysterical by screaming at him to please do what the kidnapper says, cry, panic, act desperate, but for her to calmly and confidently tell him in the stereotypical low voice that he's GOING to do this, made me want to kill her myself.

**When the emo dude gets captured, and the two girls are watching, who's holding who back? WTF were they doing? Girl #1 acts like she wants to go run to him, only to be held back by Girl #2, but then Girl #2 is now trying to run towards him, only to be held back by the Girl #1. Who's holding who back? WTF was this?? I can only imagine what the director must've told them to do in this scene ("yeah, just act panicked and stuff, that's all I've got.")

**After the main girl's sister got killed in the collision, she had NO EMOTION. Ridiculous.

**When they had the two captured guys in Rusty's shed, how coincidental was it for the emo's favorite game to be craps, since Rusty's wall was covered with the consequences for each dice roll outcome. So what if he would've said his favorite game was Monopoly or something?

**Again, not something I can criticize too much since every movie is guilty of it, but when the main girl knocks out Rusty with the shovel, of course she doesn't make sure he's out cold or dead, she just throws her shovel away.

**Along with death and taxes, here's something else that's guaranteed; I can guarantee that during the scene where Rusty was on top of the truck, anyone watching that scene was thinking the same thing: "Hit the brakes!"

**In this same scene, it was nighttime when he was on top of the truck, then early daytime when he was inside. OK, so she must've drove throughout the night right? Well how the HELL did her boyfriend show up seconds later after she jumped out of the careening vehicle? That's gotta be miles that he would've hobbled on one leg, OVERNIGHT. Nevermind the fact that he appeared seemingly within seconds.

**I'm gonna give this movie the benefit of the doubt and assume that the ridiculous ending line where the boyfriend asked "is it over," as she looks heroically over the cliff and kicks the wallet and says "it is now," was tongue in cheek. I really, REALLY hope this was meant to be campy and not a serious scene.

**It's ridiculous that they made this trucker into an omnipotent supernatural demigod, being able to see your every move, come in and out of cars without being seen, and able to survive crashing in an exploding semi going over a cliff.

My god, that main girl is one of the worst actresses I've ever seen, and that's saying a lot.

Tekken 6 (Greatest Hits) - Playstation 3
Tekken 6 (Greatest Hits) - Playstation 3
Price: $19.37
107 used & new from $7.94

49 of 71 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a lazy, sloppy, *UGLY* game. disappointing, October 31, 2009
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This is one of the most disappointing fighting games I've played this decade. I can't believe I'm having to say this about one of my most beloved franchises of all time. Something else that's even harder for me to believe is that I used up the last two remaining vacation days I had for work to stay home and play this complete piece of failing garbage. They've failed in no less than three major areas of the game, and here they are..

First and foremost, the graphics. Wow, people weren't kidding on the forums when they said this game looks dated, DOES IT EVER. Everything from the fighters and the cutscenes look absolutely embarrassing. It looks like an original Xbox game, or even a PS2 game. The characters are designed decent, but they have no texture. When you look at a character, it's a like one single flat shade, with no skin texture or small variations in color. The best analogy I can give is in Photoshop, if you were simply to use the Paint Bucket tool to fill in a void with one blanket color- no feathering, no gradients, shadows, layering, variations in opacity, etc. Just a single flat color. THAT'S HOW THIS WHOLE GAME LOOKS. The failure is most evident in some of the non-CGI cutscenes (like in campaign mode [which is another failure all its own]). I wouldn't even be making a huge deal about it if the rest of the game was good, but for reasons I'm about to explain, with everything else failing, it sure seals the deal for this game to be UGLY as HELL too.

Now for everyone's biggest complaint: the Campaign Mode. What were they thinking. This is an EPIC FAIL personified. Now it's been a few years, but I honestly believe I had more fun in the older Tekken Force mode than this "upgraded" version of Tekken Force. It's 2009 now, and there's no excuse for these problems in Campaign Mode:

***A completely BROKEN camera system

***A completely broken targeting system ( pressing R1/RB changes targets, but it's still broken. This is painstakingly evident when you come from playing a flawless 3D game like Batman Arkham Asylum [think about how smooth and easy it was to transition from enemy to enemy...], to THIS)

***A less serious gripe, but nonetheless a gripe, is how foolish it looks for the cutscenes to feature characters communicating with each other in DIFFERENT LANGUAGES. Character A says something in English, and character B responds in Japanese. I'm not saying it's impossible for human beings to communicate in this manner in real life, but WHY WOULD YOU, and why design the game this way..

***Here's the number one biggest problem with this Campaign Mode: Had this just been an optional side feature, then I could simply ignore this part of the game and still enjoy it. Problem is, they've got this featured as your main, sole source of getting gold to buy custom items for your characters. So unless you plan to play this game with no customization at all, you're pretty much forced to play through this mode and grind, and farm gold. I bought Tekken because I like one on one fighting games. Someone tell me, why did the developers insist on including and forcing you to play a COMPLETELY different GENRE of game to unlock its content???? I don't want to play BROKEN version of Final Fight or Streets of Rage, I wanted to play Tekken. That's like if a sports game "forced" you to play a mini FPS game just to unlock features, or an RTS game making you play an optional golf game on the side to unlock more troops or something. What an absolutely horrible decision in game design...

Here are some other miscellaneous problems that I want to point out:

***In most games these days, if a game features pre-rendered cut scenes, and if it's a game that also happens to let your character wear different outfits, it shows you WEARING those different outfits in the cutscenes themselves (e.g., Soul Calibur 4, Metal Gear 4, GTA IV). Well, none of that here. Not only does it show you (and Alisa) in the default "punch" or "kick" outfit, it doesn't even show YOUR CHOSEN CHARACTER period. It's pre-rendered with the default character, Lars. How lazy is that?

***Character customization is a complete joke in this game, and this goes back to the graphics. Virtua Fighter 5 hands down had the best, most realistic looking clothes you could buy for your character (it was a gorgeous game in general), while Soul Calibur 4 had the deepest customization available. So one was fun due to how deeply you could tweak your fighter (SC4), while the other was fun because no matter how petty of an upgrade you bought, you looked forward to donning you character with that new piece of apparel you just bought because of HOW REAL it looked. The same can be said for SC4 for that matter, no matter how ridiculous an item was you bought (a squid sword, a kitty costume, a bread basket as a weapon, etc), it looked like it BELONGED in the world. So as your character holds it fighting the guy across from you, you still look like an actual fighter who was insane enough to bring a shish kabob to a gunfight. Compare this to Tekken, in which the graphics suck so bad that everything you buy just.....doesn't matter. They all look like ridiculous cartoon items due to the lack of any discernible surface textures. Like some single flat shaded polygon. So if you're wearing pink joker pants, it doesn't look like pants that happen to be pink, it just looks like a SHAPE affixed to your body. I don't even know the right terms to describe it, it just looks BAD.

***Alisa's personality in Campaign Mode is so cliché. They went for this whole angle where you have this naïve, but sexy robot girl, who doesn't quite know what's going on, and speaks in Japanese, and her general innocence is supposed to be alluring (that's not the problem). What really made her a complete joke is that in the cutscenes, she speaks in Japanese, but in the text portions where you read her journal, it's in English (contrary to my previous point about speaking in two different languages, THIS isn't even the problem here). The actual problem is, based on whether you're hearing her talk in Japanese, or reading her English texts, she's portrayed with two DIFFERENT personalities (and that's the problem). On one hand, you've got the clichéd high pitched, cutesy Japanese school girl gimmick (which is fine), but on the other hand, you've got her making deadpan introspective comments in English about her predicament and those around her, in typical robotic fashion. For example, she'll say something in Japanese to the effect of ,"Oh noes! ZOMG!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ^_^ " That's cute, and that's fine. But then, in her text journal, in English, she'll deliver a line something along the lines of, "Today I encountered a man who claimed to be the greatest fighter in the world. Unfortunately he was not able to demonstrate this as I rendered him unconscious a little too quickly upon physically engaging him in combat. Perhaps once he awakens from his coma and departs the hospital, I will have the pleasure of being able to witness his skill once gain." Or something like that, you get the point.

***Here's a pet peeve of mine in all games, and I complain about this in all my game reviews that feature this problem: When you pause to go to some game menu, the game then doesn't let you hit Circle or B to cancel out of that menu, instead, it makes you manually press up or down and select the "Return to Game" option and press Start. That's stupid. A casual gamer may have no clue what I'm talking about, and couldn't care less, but this infuriates me. It's sloppy design, and just lazy. You should be able to do your thing in the pause menu, then quickly press the Circle or B button (whatever console you own) and cancel out of the menu lightning fast and return to the game, not have to manually scroll to the option and press start.

***Load times. PATHETIC. Every .....single.....screen transition....has a load time. Between fights, between cutscenes, even between the load times themselves exist load times, and that's not even logically or physically possible. We're talking no less than 15 seconds, and on the high end, probably more like 23-30 seconds.

***Another example that further makes me believe they just thew this game together: I could've sworn that in previous games, in Training Mode, when looking at you're looking at the move list, they had the moves separated into different categories based on the type of move it was. Here they just globbed it all together in one undifferentiable mess. It's not that I can't make sense of it or read it, I just hate that they cut yet ANOTHER corner in this piece of crap game.

***The online mode...I haven't seen an online mode this broken since...NBA 2K10 and NBA 2K9. Netcode = fail.

***Why are Tekken character's legs so wide? Look at Jin for example. Not a complaint whatsoever, just a little thing I happened to notice.

***The only two positives things about the game is that in its standard mode, it's still the same old Tekken fighting engine (which ironically, I JUST got tired of, but that's besides the point), so if you've been a fan of Tekken, you'll have little to complain about here. The other, is that being how they were lazy with practically everything else, I'm absolutely shocked that they have character sensitive dialogue in Campaign Mode (the dialogue between you, Alisa, and the Bosses on each level are completely different based on the character you have chosen).

So there's my angry review of this game. Makes me wonder, WTF were they doing the last two years? Why is the online broken? Why did they spend so much time on a game mode that no one likes, and even THAT'S broken? Why does a game that came out three years ago look three times as better (Virtua Fighter 5)? Why did I waste my vacation days playing this?
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 30, 2013 6:24 AM PDT

No Title Available

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars ugh, just another GENERIC, thoughtless, horror movie, January 11, 2009
I can't say I was expecting much. You can just tell from the commercials that most of the scares in this movie consist of those "boo" scenes where something unexpected flashes quickly across the screen, or some loud noise.

It's gotten to the point where the mere EXPLANATION of these types of scare scenes has gotten cliché. What I mean is, go look at any negative review of this movie, or similarly bad horror movies, 99% of those reviews will explain in their own version of words, how the only scary scenes consists of scenes like:

1) Something scary flashing across the screen.

2) Some loud, unexpected noise that the character has to go investigate.

3) Spooky little children.

EVERY review will say something like this. You know there's a problem when the REVIEWS of these movies become cliché and indistinguishable from each other. But it's through no fault of the reviewers, what else can be said to describe these identically bad, cliché horror movies? It's not like new ways can be invented to describe how bad they are, when every single one of these unimaginative pieces of trash are basically clones of each other.

**Most of the "scary" images in this movie are things that didn't even exist, they were in the character's IMAGINATION. Way to go, you're taking your already unscary scene, and rendering it pointless by not having it EXIST in the first place.

**The story had potential. A vindictive, unborn twin trying stuff. Too bad everything was treated with zero intelligence.

**I thought the acting from the main girl was pretty good. She delivered her lines pretty believably. Her friend, however, was HORRIBLE. Why'd they have to portray Megan Goode's character as so obnoxious? Some of the lines she said (like at the nursing home) was just so childish and STUPID.

**Stupid lines were repeated in the movie. How many times did we hear the girl say "I'm causing all this, it's dangerous to be around me, it's my fault, BLAH BLAH BLAH." This was said no less than three times.

**When the girl goes to see Gary Oldman to see about hopefully getting an exorcism performed, he says something about not being able to do it because the person having it performed truly has to believe she's possessed or something. HELLO??! Isn't the fact that she's here, crying and begging for an exorcism to be performed, evidence of the fact she BELIEVES?

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