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Benjamin S. Sprague "Broken Hierophant" RSS Feed (North Carolina)

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Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil 6
Price: $12.17
205 used & new from $2.94

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This "-F" for horror fans is a "+B" for action fans!, February 9, 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Resident Evil 6 (Video Game)
Many popular game sites still cannot get their fill of ragging on Resident Evil 6. Though it's been awhile since the game released, it's still a hot-topic and literal piñata the press is gleefully beating!

With my reviews I try to be as honest as I can but of course they're simply my opinions. I certainly wouldn't want to lead anyone astray and have them spend their hard earned money on something they hate. I'm an average person like the rest of you. I don't always have $60.00 to drop on a game each month which is why I usually wait for a decent price drop. I picked up RE 6 when it cost me $31.00 with shipping. Was it worth it? It really depends on the type of person you are...

If you're a survival horror fan

If you're looking for a "scary game" with a psychologically gripping storyline and a few unexpected narrative twists than RE 6 is NOT the game you've been waiting for. Compared to games such as Clock-tower, Silent Hill, Siren, Fatal Frame, Haunting ground, Rule of rose, Corpse Party, Deadly Premonition, and Amnesia, Resident Evil 6 is a dud of a game. Comparatively it's the equivalent of buying an expensive bottle-rocket that supposedly bursts into multiple loud colorful explosions yet when you light it all it does is fizzle out and tip over even before it launches.

For most of us into horror we can forgive dated graphics or awkward controls so long as the game itself is interesting, thought provoking, delightfully strange, and genuinely unnerving. Unfortunately I have to confess RE 6 has none of these traits going for it. Whereas games such as Deadly Premonition are at least original and oddly endearing despite their lack of a budget, RE 6 is that behemoth of a triple A title that has plenty of cinematic special effects and elaborate set pieces yet its' heart is nowhere to be found.

Listen, if you love "survival horror" it's best to wait until RE: Revelations is ported over from the 3DS onto the 360 and PS3. "That" is the RE experience you've been waiting for fright-fans!

If you're an action adventure junky

Before you write of Resident Evil 6 is a failed experiment gone terribly wrong let me play devil's advocate a moment. There are those of us who like games beyond the survival horror genre. There are those of us who don't mind an entertaining third person shooter so long as we get a lot of bang for our collective buck. Assuming you can forgive a clichéd cheesy plot and a few control issues Resident Evil 6 is a great game!

The sheer amount of diverse monstrosities to slay has never been more varied in a game of this ilk. The J'avo in particular often go through an insect-like chrysalis as you wound them, drastically mutating into more powerful or more agile abominations. Classic zombies also make a return and this time even standard undead have "special types" ala Left 4 Dead. There are heavyset oversized zombies, leapers, acid vomiters, and even banshee screamers that can paralyze the heroes/heroines with a shrill shriek.

Each of the 4 campaigns sends you globe trotting to unique locations and the boss fights are plentiful and pulse pounding. Many creature features return from the grave later on in typical horror movie fashion or they transform into even more powerful variants of themselves. There certainly isn't a single dull moment in RE 6.

Though mostly an action shooter, RE 6 did take the time to throw in some vehicle segments, stealth missions, and even a few demented rounds of hide & seek. Most of these slight deviations from RE 6's core fundamentals were great. However, I found the camera conspired against me on a couple of occasions. If that were not enough having to tap LT & RT repeatedly just to climb a rope or scale a wall feels counter intuitive and very awkward. It's not that it's super-difficult but it does feel tacked on and unnecessary.

In spite of its' shortcomings, RE 6 does remain a very fun action thriller experience. Assuming you enjoyed the first GI JOE movie or you perceive foreign films such as Tokyo Gore Police as guilty pleasures, this will be a welcomed edition to your entertainment library.


Resident Evil 6 has continued the tradition of awarding multiple play-throughs. As you progress through the game you find prestige points that unlock a plethora of unique skills. Whether you need a steadier aim, faster recovery time, more item drops, improved defense, or better melee combat training, you'll probably be able to purchase something that's to your liking. Additionally, getting a high rank on missions awards you with "special guns" that are more powerful than your starting arsenal.

Scattered around each stage are blue serpent emblems that give you better background information on the story. It's a nice added incentive as motivation to "find all the collectibles" but I kind of wish capcom would find more clever and organic ways to expand our knowledge of what's going on.

Lastly, unlockable costumes make a return! However, this time they're limited to "mercenaries" and procuring them often ties in to how well you do in this mode. (Or you can become a member of and purchase them with your in-game points)

As if mercenaries wasn't enough of a side diversion, there's also "agent hunt mode". This allows you to enter someone else's game as a monster to rain on their parade. Is it fulfilling? Maybe, but I haven't indulged in it just yet. I've been focused mainly on the core campaigns which are more fascinating to me as a long-time re-fan. (I'm presently on the last campaign as Ada Wong)

Updates and changes

RE 6 has been updated twice. Supposedly Ada was given her own partner allowing her scenario to have co-op support like the others. Secondly, the action button prompts can be turned off to make many of the cinematic quick time events much easier to pull off.

Assuming you stayed away from RE 6 because of the QTEs, it shouldn't be as much of a problem at present. Just thought I'd bring that up!

In conclusion: Should you buy?

I suggest hardcore survival horror gamers give this one a pass-over. However, if you can also appreciate bombastic action adventure third person shooters like I can RE 6 is totally worth owning. Certainly it's not the most refined or responsive 3rd person shooter I've ever played but overall it is bursting out of its' seams with content and replay value!

RE 6 as a survival horror game: Disappointing and lackluster. Hey, I'm telling it like it is!

RE 6 as an action thriller game: Mostly awesome but not entirely perfect. The camera and some of the control prompts could have used a bit more fine tuning. However, the sheer amount of content, added maneuverability, ability to walk & shoot, beautifully intricate environments, and diversified enemy bestiary more than make up for the shortcomings!

Persona 4 Arena - Xbox 360
Persona 4 Arena - Xbox 360
Offered by drum_video_games
Price: $16.44
61 used & new from $7.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A fan tribute worthy of the platinum label!, January 4, 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm not going to tell you anything you don't already know. Persona 4 Arena is a fighting game based on two of the arguably best Atlus rpgs of all time. (Unless you are a Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga, Devil Summoner, or Persona 2 Innocent Sin purist) Like it or hate it, the Persona series has become Atlus's biggest franchise!

I'd be lying if I said I had doubts going in. Though Atlus can be accused of publishing some weird and outright awful drek on occasion, their in-house games are always effortless home-runs that knock the ball out of the park! During an era when most game companies are afraid to take risks and go so far as to equate screwing over customers as being the status quo, Atlus remains the belligerent yet noble hearted rebel with a cause giving a big middle finger to the establishment! Upon cracking open my P4 Arena case I was treated to yet another soundtrack cd and a beautiful full color manual in multiple languages. I keep waiting for Atlus to screw me over and treat me like an unworthy mongrel but as of right now they've continued to kill me with kindness!

To be frank I "like" fighting games. Like is in parenthesis because though it's not impossible to get me to play a round of Mortal Kombat, King Of Fighters 13, or Super Street Fighter 4 on occasion, I'm not a big part of the fighting game community. This generation both capcom and ASW have released countless rehashes of the same games with added features and if I were to try and keep up with all the iterations of Blazblue or SF 4 I'd be a penniless hobo in debt up to my eyeballs. There's simply something about being forced to purchase the same title over and over again with slight tweaks and small refinements that royally annoys me to no end.

Admittedly, I feel as if I'm taking a risk with P4 Arena. Atlus has a perfect reputation with me but ASW has been in the dog house ever since I bought the original Blazblue followed by Continuum shift and STILL didn't end up with the very best version of that game. (Extend is the 3rd installment of Blazblue and I wish I had been more patient as opposed to buying its` two inferior predecessors) Will I be "betrayed" later when 2 or more superior versions of P4 Arena release in the future? Only time will tell but hopefully ASW has learned its' lesson. (I wouldn't mind a legitimate "sequel" to P4 Arena. I simply don't want to endure the same rehashed plot-line over and over again as a couple of new characters get tacked on here or there. Aka, give me a "new story" and enough "new features' to make me excited again!)

Yet for the moment, let me judge P4 Arena on its' own merits! Put simply, this is a complex fighter that looks gorgeous and actually offers accessibility for beginners by creating an option for easy input commands. "Fighting game enthusiasts" may hate this feature but fortunately there is the option to set up your own conditions when you start up a room or search online for potential opponents.

Air dashes, back steps, cancels, hops, counters, combos, sweeps, throws, recoveries, and ridiculously over powered finishing moves are all here. (With enough devotion and practice you can become seasoned enough to easily overcome the novices throwing cheap auto-combo chains at you.) The biggest difference is you can now call in a persona as a tag team partner of sorts. Both the protagonists and their epic alter egos have a fierce and normal attack. "Personas" can sustain damage and be taken out of commission during bouts so this adds to the strategy. You must be meticulous and thoughtful when it comes to busting out the swag! Additionally, characters can even suffer from "status ailments" akin to a traditional rpg. These include being drained of sp (magic required to do certain special techniques), having your controls reversed, and being poisoned as your health bar slowly but gradually dwindles.

The voice acting, background arenas, character designs, and layout of the menus are all impressive but I figured Atlus would soar in these areas in the first place! My faith was not misplaced. From what I can tell, Chie and Teddy got new VAs and at least in my opinion they did a fantastic job. Even Labrys's distinctive Jersey accent "fit" with her character. (I felt no need to make wise cracks about Jersey shore!)

The story brings together characters from P3 and P4 and does it in such a way it actually makes sense and feels 100% natural. Luckily for us, this isn't a poorly done set up just to get a bunch of best friends to beat the crap out of each other.

Ironically, my biggest qualm is that the standard story mode is more wordy than it has to be. (This coming from the guy who is a staunch advocator of including decent character development and believable motivations within fighting games) You'll have to endure reading pages upon pages of inner monologue before the characters actually say anything to each other. I felt as if this "padding" was unnecessary. However, if you're more patient with visual novels than I am, you'll be right at home! The arcade mode gave out enough tidbits to make the narrative interesting yet it also moved on at a brisk refreshing pace. I found it to be more enjoyable myself.

It's difficult to say whether or not these 13 young pugilists will appeal to your tastes. There's everything from missile-rack totting android girls (Aigis) and fan wielding inn hostesses (Yukiko) to otherworldly entities zipped up in mascot costumes (Teddie). Luckily, the traditional archetypes are also represented. Mitsuru has a lethal and forceful fencer style, Yu takes cues from his samurai ancestry, Yosuke is the quick double blade wielding wage-slave ninja , and Akihiko, Chie, and Kanji fill in for the traditional brawler types. Naoto uses a hand gun but she's also decent at some rather impressive rush down aerial crescent kicks as well as utilizing her persona for close up piercing attacks. Though the roster sits in at a mere 13 characters , every demographic seems accounted for. (Still, if you feel uncomfortable around the zany awkwardness of personas, teenaged supernatural investigators, fem-bots, and mysterious inner dimensional television portals, perhaps a traditional fighter such as KOF 13 would be more attuned to your preferences.)

Though P4 Arena is not apart of one of my more favored genres (those being rpgs,action platformers,survival horror, and beat em ups), it's still a classy package! Whether you're a Persona fan or someone who enjoys eclectic fighters such as Dark Stalkers, Rival Schools, and Jo Jo's bizarre adventure, I highly recommended this purchase!


+Characters are varied and look great (And are faithful recreations of their rpg counterparts)

+Gameplay is easy to pick up but hard to master

+ Askys went to great lengths to make the game accessible for everyone

+ Catchy soundtrack

+ Storyline that makes logical sense within the continuity of the Shin Megami Tensei Persona universe

+Stellar VA work

+Great menu design

+Mitsuru in a skintight spy suit. Yeah baby! I just hope her fur coat isn't all that's left of poor Koromaru!


-At 13 characters the roster is on the small side

-We're left to wonder if ASW is going to milk P4 Arena dry with an unnecessarily high number of revisions and reiterations (P4 ARENA SUPER EXTEND ONYX NYX EDITION TURBO!)

-Story ends on a deliberate cliff-hanger (Such and such is being controlled by a mysterious UNKNOWN POWAH! Oh, how original Atlus. C`mon, you can do better than that!)

-A part of me thinks this would have been a better co-op beat em up/rpg hybrid in the same vein as Code Princess and Dragon Crown

-Story mode is probably more longwinded than it needs to be (Don't get me wrong! I'm grateful there is an actual narrative. Yet the text screens have the tendency to linger and ramble on whilst overstaying their welcome)

-Certain traditionalists maybe a little disheartened P4 Arena has a 4 button layout as opposed to the 6-8 button layouts found in other fighting games.

5 out of 5

A 5 out of 5 means the people who made this game did so with love and care. While I can bag on P4 Arena for not being my favorite kind of game or bag on it for being trite fan service, the truth is that it excels in both its' technical and visual presentation.

It was a smart decision to make P4 Arena a 2D Brawler as it really enhances the charm and personality of the beloved cast of characters we've gotten to know from Persona 3 and Persona 4.

As much as I've ranted angrily about ASW for their capcom inspired business practices they are skilled and adept at making good fighting games. P4 Arena is no exception!

Sure, I'll probably be outraged when ASW announces P4 Arena Nyx Black Diamond edition and P4 Arena Blue Sapphire Jack Frost edition but for now I rather push that negative premonition aside to dwell in the realm of my warm fuzzy nostalgia!

Knights Contract - Xbox 360
Knights Contract - Xbox 360
Offered by CheaperGamesandMovies
Price: $23.99
25 used & new from $7.40

4.0 out of 5 stars A diamond that shines despite some grit on its' surface!, November 14, 2012
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Ah, Gretchen and Heinrich! You two certainly set me upon quite the quest. We had good times and we had bad times but overall completing your epic errand gave me quite the sense of accomplishment!

The above two sentences some up Knights Contract as a whole! While this is not a perfect game or one that had a triple A budget to back it up, Knight's Contract has become one of my precious "sleeper gems" of the year.

First I must warn you the last two bosses are very difficult. Unless you are extremely lucky you'll see the game over screen quite often. Having stated that, the game is by no means broken. I was able to finish Knights Contract and I must say that beating it actually made me feel proud as opposed to the "meh" sensation I get when games are dumbed down for mass appeal and mass consumption.

Still with me? Good! I'll get more logs for the hearth! Now that you're comfortable we'll begin with the story. In Knights Contract innocent witches who helped mankind were blamed for the black plague. A charismatic charlatan by the name of Faust convinces the self righteous mob to execute magical practitioners wherever they maybe found. Dealing out the death blows is the earnest executioner Heinrich. He doesn't enjoy his job but alas, he has to do it lest the townsfolk turn on him as well. The last witch Heinrich kills curses him with immortality. Later on Gretchen meets Heinrich again, reincarnated into a new body that was made especially for her by a kindly alchemist. Heinrich is informed that the other witches have been brought back by Faust and they now seek revenge upon humanity. Faust controls them by having their magical shards and apparently he needs Gretchen's shard as well to complete his heinous apocalyptic ritual. Put simply, the story is actually rather good. As you slay each witch you simultaneously feel sorry for them and the relationship that develops between Gretchen and Heinrich is believable.

The main gimmick of Knights contract is you control two characters at once. Heinrich is the bulky warrior with a scythe hammer that dispenses cold hard justice whereas Gretchen learns a plethora of spells that can entrap her foes or juggle them multiple times into the air. As you upgrade Gretchen's incantations they dish out more damage, become more accurate, and cover a larger radius. Though Heinrich is immortal and can escape death's grasp via the tapping the "a" button quickly to pull his body parts back together, Gretchen is fragile and mortal. Once Gretchen's health reaches empty you'll be treated to a heaping helping of fail! Luckily, Gretchen's depleting health can be restored when Heinrich gallantly lifts her up into his strong arms and even while doing so he can do a "quick dash" to avoid incoming attacks.

Due to all the whining and ranting about "one long escort mention" I thought Knights Contract would prove to be nay impossible to chug through and yet I managed to do so with very few actual problems. While Gretchen's ai is not the best it certainly is not the worst. Beyond that, she's actually "helpful" and her spells can balance out the battlefield even when the newest batch of baddies prove to be extra tough! In general keeping Gretchen alive is "common sense". Aka, don't let her lag too far behind and tend to her wounds when necessary. It's not rocket science. The worst case scenario happens when Heinrich is incapacitated and Gretchen is being choked or crushed by a monster. However, there are hidden charms that hasten Heinrich's resurrection speed and add more overall health to Gretchen's life bar. Knight's Contract is never "unfair" unless the person playing it is hell-bent on being a selfish narcissist!

In general KC does a good job with environments. One of my favorite areas included tracking down giant serpents within an icy forest and a series of caves. The artic snakes would leave behind their shed skins that crumbled at my touch. Later on you go through a castle keep that is tangled in Repunzel's hair. It's as if the people who created KC put more imagination into everything because they were trying to make up for the smaller budget allotted to them. Needless to say, this totally works in KC's favor!

Yet not everything is rose petals, sadly there are some thorns. Toward the end of the game there's a large portion taking place within a pocket dimension in which previous areas are somewhat "re-skinned" but are still otherwise mostly the same. Aka, the dreadful "recycling curse"! Additionally , there are some texturing errors causing the feet of the main protagonists' to sink somewhat into the ground when this is not supposed to happen. Fortunately, this graphical glitch is not game breaking. I never encountered an instance where I fell completely through the world. (I'm looking at you, Fable II!)

Bosses are a mixed bag. In some instances they can "ring you out" by knocking you off ledges and most of them require quick time events to slay properly. If you fail a QTE the boss regains a couple of health bars so you have to whittle them down to that point again. For most of the game the "cheap factor" is kept to a bare minimum but as I said before, the last two fights will test your patience and your sanity!

The voice acting and music throughout the game are surprisingly fantastic. Seriously, the audio kept me invested in the characters and story my entire time playing. I felt as if I was reading one of those nostalgic "dark fantasy" books I used to revere as a angst ridden moody teenager! Laura Bailey and the other voice actors who filled in for Heinrich, the seven other witches, Faust, and the bumbling yet lovable alchemist Minikelsus did their respective roles perfectly.

Overall if you're a gamer who is having longing pangs for a modern action/exploration game that is reminiscent of Ico, Onimusha, Genji, Ghouls & Ghosts, as well as the anime Berserk you should totally pick it up!


+ Good story line

+The "escort dynamic" doesn't suck as bad as professional reviewers made it out to be.

+Imaginative environments for the majority of the game.

+Challenging and awe inspiring boss fights.

+Decent monster variety.

+Thought and care went into the audio side of things.

+ Being able to use the potion tossing alchemist Minikelsus when Gretchen is absent.

+Hidden gallery pages and beneficial items can be found everywhere!

+Gretchen's spells can be "leveled up" to increase their effectiveness.

+"Finishers" are gory and satisfying!


-Last two boss fights are a matter of luck, happenstance, and dealing with mounting frustration.

- Quick time events. The gaming community in general could probably do without them!

- There are certain moments in which Gretchen and Heinrich are separated and have to fight alone. This is when the overall challenge spikes considerably.

-Minor graphical errors.

-Giant gold knight golems are jerks!

-There's a portion of the game that recycles pieces of familiar locales you've already traversed.

-Game visuals are not nearly as polished as the in game cgi sequences

-Map is rather useless. You'll have better luck navigating on your gut feelings & instincts!

-Camera is occasionally jerky.

Final Grade

Overall: 4
Funfactor: 4

A "4" is a good game with a few noticeable flaws that are still easy enough to ignore. While this game may not be a "media darling" the slander against it seems hyper exaggerated, dubious, and more than a little unfair. If you're a gamer who is tired of fpses, loves European mythology, enjoys action adventure games, doesn't mind a challenge, or if you're into modern Wicca, Knights Contract is a steal for the present asking price! Though KC is not as refined as God Of War, Dante's Inferno, Dark-Siders, or Lords of Shadow, those who liked those games will easily be able to warm up to this one as well!

Completed on: Page difficulty (I read rumors that knight difficulty is literally a "knightmare"!)

Alice: Madness Returns - Xbox 360
Alice: Madness Returns - Xbox 360
Offered by insomniacsonline
Price: $28.30
62 used & new from $15.42

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the better adventure platformers out of this generation!, August 5, 2012
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There's a movement in gaming recently that tries to push "disturbing subject matter" with a bland array of dull colors and graphics meant to incite a sense of gritty realism. This has gone on so long we may have forgotten a game can have bright lush surroundings and flamboyant cartoon-like characters while still addressing deeper mature issues.

First an foremost Alice: Madness returns is an old school plat former. In the vein of titles such as Mario 64, and Kameo you will do a lot of jumping, sliding, lever pulling, and even shrinking to traverse areas that are a little larger than those found in more straightforward action romps such as Lollipop Chainsaw. If you get queasy around pitfalls and high heights Alice: Madness returns will definitely pour on the pressure and elevate your pulse! The game's effortless ability to induce a sense of panicky vertigo is admirable though there were moments I thought certain scenarios with their unforgiving relentless barrage of fast moving and disappearing floating foot-rests dragged on to the point of excess tedium.

The enemies in A:MR are not pushovers either. Running in hacking & slashing will get you killed often. Whether you are fighting giant cannon totting crabs, armored zombie card solders, samurai wasps, spectral sailors, giant dollies, or hulking fireball tossing gooey tar abominations adorned with multiple porcelain baby heads , chances are you will have to stun them or knock them over with one weapon before finishing them off with another.

Luckily A:MR gives you plenty of destructive implements. The hobby horse is akin to a heavy mace. It can stun enemies and break through weakened obstructions. The pepper grinder is a machine gun. "Rabbit bombs" explode when prompted to by a stop watch. Likewise they can temporarily be applied on weight sensitive tiles to buy Alice precious seconds to traverse her terrain. The vorpal blade is a fast moving knife and the tea kettle packs the punch of a makeshift grenade launcher. All these can be upgraded with teeth you find throughout your journey.

It's true the first Alice game had more weapons but the sequel makes up for it with a few nice added incentives. Alice can now break down into butterflies and blur in any direction to evade attacks. She can shrink in order to travel through small key-holes or to see details her big-self would otherwise miss. Additionally Alice has nice double jump and float maneuvers to make the plat forming just a tad less hectic. If you're still not "sold" there's also "hysteria mode" that transforms Alice into a creepier version of the white-queen when her health is low. Attacks do more damage during this burst of adrenaline and psychotic rage but Alice's hysteria gauge will tick down swiftly to prevent confrontations from becoming a complete cakewalk.

Of course next up are the graphics. Let me get something off my chest right now. A little abrupt pop in texturing never bothered me much. It's no secret the Unreal 3 engine has issues with this sort of thing but when everything is so beautiful to look at as it is in A: MR I could care less. Each area has a theme and they all "shift" between whimsical and nostalgic to macabre and psychologically twisted. It's ironic A:MR surprised me more with its' environmental transitions than the latest Silent Hill games. I could rarely predict "when" the world around me would suddenly flip upside down. Whoever scripted these events that gradually descended into complete insanity and pandemonium should be applauded!

A gripe some people may have is a lack of boss battles up until the very end of the game. However, for me the problem is we "expect" these over-the-top encounters and because of this it breaks the immersion. At least for me each place in wonderland was more unpredictable and more suspenseful because it lacked the usual hulking monstrosities guarding each exit point to the next stage. The only certainties we have are there will be more monsters to fight and more puzzles to solve. Beyond that we're very much left in the dark and we are completely clueless as to "when" a chapter will officially wrap itself up. This lent itself to the "horror atmosphere" of A:MR quite nicely. Whether or not it was a deliberate design choice or was due to lack of funding is anyone's guess.

The music is fantastic! Each track varies to fit the mood of each place ant there's a nice range amongst creepy industrial compositions, melancholy oriental tunes, and fittingly sinister violin pieces. The composer reminds me a bit of Akira Yamaoka and I mean that in the most flattering way imaginable!

However, there are a few qualms that pop up. First of all, A:MR is rife with puzzles and mini games. While most of these can be skipped there are certain ones that cannot. In truth many of these diversions are refreshingly artistic with old-school arcade conventions! The problem is not that they exist but rather how often certain ones are repeated. It gets to the point they feel like padding as opposed to well thought out side quests.

Secondly, both the camera and some extra tough plat-forming segments will conspire against the fun you're having. Neither quibble is so blatantly bad it leaves the game broken but they are noticeable all the same.

In the end I found Alice's return to wonderland to be an adventure worth undertaking. Much of the story continues the events of its' predecessor but because it's supposed to be a mystery my lips are sealed! If you're tired of military fpses, macho brochismo derp-a-herping, and soulless dungeon loot acquisition, A:MR may refresh that retro-gamer part of your inner psyche which has been neglected far too long!


+ Many secrets to find

+ Game plus mode

+Compelling story with a mystery thriller slant to it

+ Adult material handled with tasteful subtlety

+ Gorgeous sprawling areas with imaginative scenery

+ Fantastic sound track

+ Enemies require strategy to beat

+ Challenging enough to give you a sense of accomplishment after you see the credits roll

+ First Alice game included as a free download if you buy Maness Returns brand new.

+ Inexpensive dlc that's actually helpful

+Alice has good motivations as a protagonist and her cause is a noble one worth fighting for

+It's delightful to stomp around the Red Queen's domain as "Godzilla Alice".


-Certain mini games are repeated too many times

-Sometimes the camera goes wonky and makes a few platforming segments and a few battles more frustrating than they should be

- Other gamers maybe distraught there's only one actual boss in the whole game

-Play each chapter after an extensive cool-down break lest you end up punching your controller and shouting obscenities at your television screen

-Texture blur and texture pop-in issues rear their ugly heads

- The lock-on targeting feature is easy to understand but difficult to master

For you if: If you're a psychology buff who loves things laid out to you in fanciful metaphor you'll adore A:MR. Likewise if you count Psychonauts, Kameo, Mario 64, and Silent Hill amongst your favorite games then A:MR should find its' way to your collection as soon as possible! A:MR is also for the old-school-fools who yearn for a challenge and who like to be rewarded for exploring off the beaten path!

Not for you if: If you're afraid of heights, prefer slaying enemies over jumping around on moving platforms, get nauseated upon being exposed to re-imaginings of famous literature, and think Lewis Carroll was a talentless hack you should steer clear of this one! Admittedly A:MR is also on the grim and serious side so if you want a gaming experience with a sense of humor you will not find any "comedy gold" here. Certain people may also be offended by the content in A:MR. There are suggestive themes centered around brainwashing, prostitution, rape, and child slave labor.

Closing thoughts

At a further date I'd like to research on why we are so enamored with completely vilifying the Victorian era. Even self professed fans of this era always portray it as a grim hopeless place rife with classicism, misogyny, dirty back allies, serial killers, rapists, pedophiles, children slave labor, witch hunts, repressed sexuality, courtroom corruption, and billowing dark smoke spewing forth from monstrous trains and industrial factories. While I'm sure Victorian England had these problems to some degree it seems to be we only focus on that negative side of the equation. Heck, if I were to dwell only on modern society's "bad qualities" we'd be very much "Neo-Victorian" according to the works of Tim Burton and Zack Snyder.

However, one thing I like about Alice:MR is it's not steeped in complete pessimism, cynicism, and nihilism. Unlike say "Sucker Punch" that tries to pass itself off as female empowerment yet has a "wtf ending" that completely contradicts with its` initially positive message, Alice's conclusion is one that is satisfactory where true justice prevails. Unlike Tim Burton's recent tamer-than-expected trip back to Wonderland McGee's version isn't afraid to hold back nor does it pull any punches. (Though admittedly I enjoyed Burton's Through The Looking Glass adaptation for what it was. We all knew going into the theatres Disney wasn't going to let the man make it rated "R". )

It's also refreshing Alice can lay down the hurt in attire that's a touch more modest and befitting than a string bikini or a burlesque gothic Lolita outfit that`s two sizes too small. While I'm not against sexy titillation and I do not get morally outraged by its' presence , I do respect game developers who manage to make their leading heroine "pretty" without showing off excess amounts of her skin.

When it comes to steam-punk Victorian fiction American McGee and Spicy horse really nailed it for me. I'd love to see Alice get a third game in her series! Hopefully the sales figures for A:MR were not completely abysmal!

The King of Fighters XIII - Xbox 360
The King of Fighters XIII - Xbox 360
Offered by Baby-Dragons-Den
Price: $54.00
24 used & new from $19.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite traditional 2D fighter to date!, June 10, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After reading so many glowing reviews on Amazon I still was worried KOF 13 could not possibly live up to the hype. Was it actually "that good"? Much to my excitement and cautious trepidation the game arrived Friday on the 8th and I've been playing it ever since.

First thing is first. It really is a worthy successor to previous KOF games. At least in my humble opinion it surpasses most of the past entries I have played!

It's true KOF 2002 UM gave us the hugest roster in snk's history and KOF 11 is no easy contender to beat. In the case of KOF 13 it is quality over quantity. All 30+ fighters have been lovingly redrawn. The sprite work in KOF 13 is nothing short of amazing. Each combatant is large, detailed, expressive, and filled with personality. I may not be digging the big-headed kawaii-moe-direction Yuri and Athena received but that is such a miniscule gripe I don't even know why I should bring it up at all. Backgrounds are equally awe inspiring and they will even change between day and night cycles from one round to another.

Combat is that bread and butter combination of being "easy to learn" but "hard to master". Cancellations, charged specials, roll evades, running dashes, hop jumps, combos, and desperation attacks all make a return. It's likewise a relief we have "actual teams" again and that we can select the order of each fighter before each confrontation. Though it may seem daunting at first, kof 13 has plenty of practice, tutorial, and mission modes to aid you in fine tuning your abilities. This is topped off with mini challenges in the arcade mode to procure even more points between bouts! The grading system plays into what new challenger you will face at the midway point and even decides whether or not you can advance onward to face the true boss. Luckily, it's not near impossible to meet these requirements.

If you end up with your face planted in the dirt of defeat the cpu's assist feature returns to give you an edge versus your opponent when you return to the arena. Buffs range from shaving an adversaries health down by 75% to upping your attack damage and defense. This is not needed for most rivals but due to typical SNK traditions both Saiki and Dark Ash are exceptionally cheap!

Because I played KOF 11 I was able to appreciate the story mode. Ash went from being a character I was mildly annoyed with to one I admired and rooted for. If you haven't guessed already Ash is portrayed as a typical narcissist and bad-guy who stole the sacred treasures in the previous story arch but KOF 13 does a commendable job at shedding additional light into his deeper motivations and true intentions. The genuine "team endings" are often hilarious to serve their place as comical relief in order to balance out the more serious stuff. Sadly, if you haven't been keeping up with your KOF lore the story-mode will still be convoluted and confusing. It would have been nice if KOF 13 took a nod from KOF 2006 (Maximum Impact 2) with additional unlockable character profiles that could have caught newcomers up to speed. If there is one complaint I could level at most KOF games it is they have never been friendly towards green novices. Hopefully this will be remedied in the future!

Additionally online could have been slightly better. There are no lobbies and only two people can be in a room at once. However, I liked the option of being able to practice before new challengers joined my room. At least on the 360 side of things the KOF community seems very nice! Granted, I got my rear end kicked to affinity and beyond. Be that as it may, there was no trash talking or nasty messages sent to my inbox. I noticed that the last couple of matches I fought were just a little lag-ridden but nothing as bad as some of the horror stories I heard before hand. I'd say KOF 13 is just a bit behind SSF 4 when it comes to a smooth online playing experience. Apparently the patch I downloaded remedied a lot of problems I would have bumped into otherwise. I should also mention you can choose your own custom team, participate in ranked matches, record data, set your profile message, and select a kof inspired avatar picture. It's nothing spectacular but it works. If it ain't broke don't fix it, aye?

I've played a lot of fighting games but KOF 13 exists within that same magic space as Garou Mark Of The Wolves, Samurai Shodown 4, Last Blade 2, Street Fighter Alpha 2 Gold, and Street Fighter 3 third strike. I haven't enjoyed a 2D fighter this much in a long time and I'd say it edges out Blazblue just a little bit based on my own preferences. Despite KOF's exaggerated cheesy camp it's characters somehow seem "real" and are all that much more endearing for it.

In the end you'll know if you're a KOF type of person. It's not a post apocalyptic steam punk versus magic fantasy yarn with outlandish caricatures nor is it quite as celebratory of its' machismo as Street fighter. Amidst pretty tom boy waitresses, metro sexual men showing off nail polish, buff beef cake mercenaries, ball cap adorned tough guys, voluptuous scantily clad female ninjas, drunken old kung fu masters, pop star idols, spunky karate girls, and finely featured almost-vampires it carves out its' own niche between the pleasantly absurd and the surprisingly humanistic. Every demographic is represented and the fighting is as fast, furious, and fun as it has ever been in the franchise!


+ Adds a robust story mode which was absent in KOF 12

+Inclusion of actual teams with 3 on 3 bouts

+ The fighting itself is exhilarating, challenging, and addictive

+ 30+ KOF characters have been reborn with large beautiful sprites

+ Plenty of offline distractions

+ The unlocked artwork is worth the effort

+ A color customization option is included

+ Rival teams banter back and forth before each match creating a fond connection between the gamer and the characters

+ The assist cpu option available during each continue takes the stress out of the boss encounters if you find the challenge is too steep for your liking.

+Background stages are exotic, inviting, and lively (Accept for the nihilistic red burning sky/black gate-way boss stage)

+Some of Kim's audio clips sound like Kenshiro from Fist Of The North star

+ Most versions come with a beautiful fully colored bilingual instruction booklet (In French and English) and a 4 disc soundtrack

+ King's and Yuri's defeat animations are a subtle tribute to the Art Of Fighting games


- The plot will be confusing to non KOF fans

-Online modes are rather bare-bones

-The story mode has scrolling text but no actual voice work

-The learning curve for KOF 13 can be rather steep until you find your groove

- Mr. Karate, NESTS Kyo, and Flames Iori are priced dlc as opposed to being in-game unlockables.

-Not as many taunt and victory animations as past entries

End verdict

Atlus and SNK/Playmore are an unstoppable duo! If you're already a fighting game enthusiast chances are my praise is meaningless because you already have this in your collection.

Moving on, I have to be a little more discerning for those of you who are curious about fighters and want to try them for the first time. KOF 13 is perhaps too cryptic and too complex to be a decent purchase for beginners. If Snk/playmore has one Achilles' heel it is their games are rather abrasive towards newbies.

If you persist despite my warnings it'll be in your best interest to do a wikipedia search of the characters and also browse fighting game fan sites for helpful tips. Shoryuken forums is a good place to start!

Ben's personal score: 5 burning fists out of 5!

Warriors Orochi 3 - Xbox 360
Warriors Orochi 3 - Xbox 360
Offered by MOST WANTED
Price: $24.96
31 used & new from $11.11

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best tactical hack n slash to date though there are a few minor qualms., May 3, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Some of you probably saw me on Xbox live. If I seemed "aloof" I offer my sincerest apologies but most of you know once I get a new Tecmo/Koei game I'm completely oblivious to reality! (Still, I'm friendly enough if you pm me. Don't worry, I don't bite off upper torsos!)

So Warriors of Orochi 3 is everything I hoped it would be. It's a historical and mythological based empowerment fantasy without all the nasty pillaging, raping, genocide, and torture nonsense that actually happened during "the olden days". Sure, you slay thousands of enemies but they don't leak vital fluids and most of them are snake demon-people, Boar headed ogres, and manically laughing cheesy super villains who are VERY loosely based upon non-fictional tyrannical jerk-bags!

There's definitely heartfelt sincerity and innate substance radiating from the newest "warriors" game to date. Whether it's the delight of a fully colored instruction manual or the fact there are 130 unlockable "dudes" and "babes", WO3 is a complete revival of old school gaming industry standards. (Aka you get your money's worth)

My first impressions of this game are overwhelmed enthusiasm. Should I talk about the totally sic multi headed hydra that's the main fixture of the first level? Should I reveal we can change past events so certain heroes and heroines can be unlocked via dramatic rescues in the knick-of-time? Should I go over the "bonds" relationship dynamic, the rpg leveling up mechanic, the weapon fusion system, or switching between 3 team-mates on the fly to string together intricate combos? There's so much here and what's even more remarkable is the story line isn't half bad!

Beyond that Warriors Of Orochi 3 is more of the same for the genre. You cut down thousands of enemy soldiers on foot. When that gets boring you whistle for your trusty horse and mount up! Amongst the chaos there are routine objectives such as taking over the bases of adversaries, escorting important people to safety, using a medieval tank to plow through blockades, coming to the aid of a struggling allied general, pulling a lever to flood an area, and taking advantage of a catapult to knock down large barred doors. None of this is avant garde yet it's still rewarding that some amount of "strategy" is necessary alongside the mindless hacking and slashing to attain victory.

Tecmo/Koei has once again taken advantage of my affections for ancient civilizations, swords & sorcery, mythical beasts, beautiful women, Kung Fu theatrics, and traditional warfare!

What's more of the same

1. As you complete missions you acquire "growth points". Though the team you play as levels up quickly on its' own, you can use accumulated experience to improve anyone on the roster you want to.

2. WO3 is still more or less the "king of fighters or "marvel vs. capcom" variant of the warriors franchise. Aka, you actually control 3 characters at once and you can switch them in and out to string together combos or unleash a "special fusion attack" where they all do a stunning area clearing technique simultaneously.

3. Unlike other warriors games, WO3 opts for less historical accuracy and more supernatural elements rooted in Asian folklore and mythology. Not to say "Dynasty Warriors and "Samurai Warriors" strive to be 100% accurate themselves but WO3 is twice as over the top as either franchise. (Which makes since on account it is both franchises combined)

4. Weapon fusion is still easy as pie. By smelting weapons of the same type down and putting them together you can add more attribute slots and beneficial traits to them.

5. There are side-mission requirements to do alongside the main objective but you're not forced to do them. It's mainly for if you desire extra growth points or more weapon drops.

6. Any mission can be played on any difficulty right off the bat. Aka, if you scoff how quickly you can decimate whole armies on "easy" or "normal" you can sate your inner masochist by trying the same skirmishes on hard or chaos. (Though I suggest buffing up your favorite characters before hand.)

7. There's a "free mode" if you want to go back and re-play certain maps without that annoying "plot-progression" present to interrupt your barbaric hoard slaying fun!

What has changed

1. Warriors of orochi 3 now has a base camp where you congregate before accepting missions. By throwing "tea parties" you can level up the bonds of your allies thus increasing the likelihood they will come in and help you during a battle. Aka, WO3 has borrowed a few of the better aspects of Dynasty Warriors 7.

2. The beautiful benign priestess Kaguya helps you travel through time. This is a very pivotal part of the plot. It's your goal to rescue allies before they die in the past so you can build up your chances of defeating Orochi (The Serpent King) in the present.

3. The stakes aren't high only for Japan and China anymore. A few European and other-worldly heroes are sucked into Orochi's vortex as well. Ever wanted to play as Joan De'arch, Achilles, Ryu Hayabusa, Ayane, and an assortment of other strangers in a strange land? Now you can! WO3 has the most robust and varied character roster in the series to date! It's pretty much Tecmo/Koei's "Super Smash Brothers" and what is there not to love about that?

4. It's no secret this series doesn't exactly sell akin to hot cakes here in the west. To make a North American/European release possible, Tecmo/Koei had to cut the cost of English voice acting. This means we have to do a lot of "reading". As much as that prospect may terrify or disgust certain gamers, I'm happy with it. In my youth most of my favorite games conveyed the story line and character relationships through scrolling text so it's no problem for me to deal with this slight hindrance today.

5.There is online co-op to compliment the local co-op but I haven't tried it quite yet.

6. Dream mode has been dropped and replaced by a musou battle-field edit mode where you can fool around with different scenarios by changing generals, troop types, enemy encounters, and conditions. However, you have to clock a lot of hours into the main campaign to unlock additional options for the edit mode. (Tigers and Lu Bu clones for the win! Trololololo!)

7. The graphics have been greatly improved. WO3 is on par with Dynasty Warriors 7 which is a major compliment.

8. There are fewer identical move sets. Aka, though two characters may have the same weapon type their "special techniques" and even a few of their basic attacks are usually vastly unique from each other.

9. The strength,technique,and speed designations for characters still exist but now there is a 4th designation called "wonder". It's my bet this is another "mystic class" that focuses on wider area effect magic spells.


1. Warriors Of Orochi has a long tradition of omitting officer profile information. It's strange how you can unlock movable 3D models, sound tracks, additional costumes, and wall-papers yet a basic character write up is as elusive as a fox in a hole! Sadly, WO3 is not the exception to this rule.

2. Characters seem "scaled down" a bit from Dynasty warriors 7. The stunning attention to detail is still present but the 3D models seem a tad "smaller" somehow.

3. Sometimes learning exactly where to be on a map at the right times boils down to trial and error. Aka, certain missions are very easy to fail on the first try.

4. Characters are limited to only one weapon type. If you were smitten by DW7's "weapon switch system" its' omission in WO3 may add a sour after-taste to your otherwise deliciously sweet return to feudal fantasy land.

Ending verdict

If you been dead set on hating this franchise from the very beginning I'm not going to be able to change your mind. Still, you should know WO3 got a high mark even with IGN and we all know how much IGN has ragged on and slandered every warriors game before now. Another words, if you get only one warriors game EVER for your collection this is the one you should consider.

Frankly, I cannot argue with the bargain I'm getting here. 130 playable characters?! An epic story they can span +50 hours?! A relationship simulator built into my strategic hacking & slashing?! Nods to my favorite Japanese and Chinese legends?! Allowing me to finally be Achilles, Joan, Ayane, and Ryu in a musou game?! Stop reading my mind Tecmo/Koei! Better yet, just take my money!

If you're not a diehard fan "+C"

A C+ means though this game is not rooted in your favorite genre it's still bursting with quality content and is an excellent buy. While you will not count WO3 amongst the "perfect jewels" in your game collection it'll serve its' purpose as an awesome "party game" when friends are over. It's also a great stress reliever on account it's easy to jump right into without a lengthy tutorial. Whenever you're hankering for an old school beat em up WO3 will be there to sate your hunger! (And you don't even have to feed quarters into the coin slots!)

If you are a diehard fan "+A"

For those of us into Asian influenced fantasy epics, J-rpgs, anime, manga, old martial arts flicks, beat em ups, and the warriors games in general WO3 is a must buy. Say what you will about Tecmo/Koei but you cannot accuse them of neglecting their fan base. With each Warriors game they up the ante considerably and make improvements across the board. I remember how impressed I was with Dynasty Warriors 7 and thought it couldn't be surpassed but by golly, WO3 proved me wrong!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 8, 2012 12:04 AM PDT

Venetica - PC
Venetica - PC
Offered by TnsDeals
Price: $7.39
26 used & new from $2.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unjustly accused of being a flop, Scarlet proved herself to be "beautiful" in my eyes!, January 13, 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Venetica - PC (Video Game)
If there is one game that falls under the classification of "unjustified scorn" Venetica is probably it. Atari obviously believed Venetica would do well beyond Europe and by all accounts it should have. After some scathing reviews I was afraid to buy the game. Accusations of piss poor graphics and bugs aplenty deterred me from Venetica as if it were a plague ridden leper.

When the game was practically "nothing" I took a risk. I invited Scarlet into my home and said "Okay lady, you're on trial. How do you plead?" It was then Scarlet presented the key to my heart. She tearfully recounted how she was slandered unfairly. "If you merely give my game a chance you will not regret it." Needless to say I'm a sucker for big doe-like eyes and pouty lips!

As rpg enthusiasts we've put up with a lot over the years haven`t we? I was a person that bought Fable 2 and Fallout 3 at launch and both those titles were buggy as a tick infested sleeping bag. This isn't to say they were "bad games". They just needed more polish! So if you're sensible like me you may beg to ask "Well gee, why does something like Fallout 3 carry a 90 something on meta-critic despite it's myriad flaws whereas Venetica gets crucified and left out for the crows to eat?` The answer is simple. We have nostalgic beer goggles for certain brand names whereas something "new" that pops up out of the blue makes us more apprehensive. It's not fair but it's human nature.

In my many hours playing Venetica I've completed many quests. I killed a cultist who turned into a serpentine she-devil with multiple tentacles. I helped a smith from my small home-town set up shop in Venice. I fought a giant lobster "thing" in the sewers. I used my blood tithe ability to sap the life out of a high flying gargoyle within an abandoned house to acquire a crest for a city watchmen who in turn gave me a key so I could open the inner city gate for a wizened female necromancer. Heck, I even fetched some carrier pigeons for a less than reputable inn keeper. Throughout it all I kept waiting for something to break. For that one "mission" to suddenly become undoable. Call me lucky or call me blessed but none of the "rumored bugs" popped up. Sure, one time I got stuck on a ladder and another time the game froze when I talked to a trader but all I had to do to remedy that is "restart my progress" from the last auto save. (Apparently there's also an urban gaming legend "auto saves" don't work in Venetica but so far they've served me well!)

Perhaps the biggest problem with Venetica is it can be somewhat picky. For example for my blood tithe ability to work on the gargoyle I had to practically stand right under the creature. When I tried using the same power further off to the side it wouldn't react. While talking to a young fighter who inherited his father's forge it seemed as if options were missing from the dialogue wheel shortly after I said I wanted to help the smith I knew get "authentic papers" to prove his worth. Later when I had 3,000 ducats the other dialogue choices appeared again and I was able to pay the lad off whom was more than happy to give the forge over to my black-smith comrade. Lastly there was my hunt for the "Gripper Queen" (giant lobster thing I mentioned earlier) and though the set markers on my map seemed "wrong" they were actually right. Aka I had to go beneath the bridge and swim around a bit to find the mote into the catacombs as opposed to walking topside. Venetica certainly tries it's damnedest to fool you into thinking it is "broken" but 9 times out of 10 the game is still chugging along smoothly with nary a hiccup!

Oh , there are obvious problems though. Certain spoken lines of narration are repeated between conversation flows. The lip synching is barely serviceable. I suppose if you're hung up on "uncanny valley graphics" you might also complain Venetica looks a bit like a medieval 3 dimensional interpretation of any number of Saturday morning cartoons we endured as children. (Remember Dragon`s Lair, Gummi Bears, Pirates of Dark Water, The Hobbit animated movie, Conan the adventurer, and Dungeons and Dragons?) Be that as it may, if you're simply wanting a game that is fun with an engrossing story-line these trivial matters will do very little to deter your enjoyment!

For me Venetica is like a Fable game with a more interesting main character. In addition, instead of having to worry about "kingly rulings" or "land-lord property management tripe" I was allowed the privilege to run around akin to a true adventurer with nothing to pull me out of the intrigue. Sure, you can join one of many guilds. You can become a trader too but fortunately you're not forced into playing boring mini games and arranging furniture in miscellaneous hovels merely to make ends meet. I also prefer how Scarlet "talks" to people. You still get to decide if she's kind, cruel, or simply sarcastic yet your choices aren't diluted into random acts of farting, singing, gift giving, and juggling flaming kittens!

Starting off the check list of topics Venetica has an interesting plot and mythos. No other rpg has allowed me to be the daughter of Death in a quasi-realistic historical setting. (Fret not. This is divulged very early on. Another-words, I`m not spoiling anything.) Soon I was allowed to enter the spirit world, sap "twilight essence" from slain monsters with my mystic moon blade to store up a plentiful supply of resurrections, and see through the eyes of nearby ravens. As if that wasn't completely awesome already, a varied plethora of necromantic spells and fighting arts began to be unearthed as I traveled from one exotic to the next in search of wise eccentric teachers! Scarlet's tale of revenge, love, and self discovery almost comes off as a European take on old Kung-Fu martial arts films. The "path" is equally important to the destination. Indeed, the more you put into Venetica the more it rewards you in turn.

Combat in Venetica is real time. Blades flash with crescent blurs of reflected light and spells explode forth and crackle around those unfortunate enough to be in the way. Scarlet also rolls around her foes in an attempt to escape their frenzied assaults. Due to its' action adventure roots Venetica is much more enjoyable with a controller plugged into one of your pc ports in my opinion. I gave it a go with the keyboard but it didn't feel right to me at all.

My only complaint about battles is mobs of enemies are sometimes more difficult than an actual boss. There's a long portion of the game that can be spent without armor and though acrobatics and blocking do help, it still sucks to take ridiculous amounts of damage from the lowest of scum!

Weapons are their own enigmas begging to be mastered. Each one has advantages, disadvantages, and their own skill trees. For example a war-hammer is a "high risk" and "high reward" mauler. If you hit you'll more than likely crush an adversary into jelly but if you miss it leaves you wide open for lethal counter attacks. The war-hammer can also be used to break down boarded up obstructions. To further elaborate my point, some creatures can only be killed with the moon-blade. If you try smiting them with something else they merely get back up again as if you tickled them into a laughing fit with a feather. Keep in perspective you can swing a spear yet lack the knowledge to block with it. Furthermore, if your newly purchased "block skill" isn't assigned to an arrow key on the D-pad it's bloody well useless to you. For many gamers this may seem frustrating at first but once you "get it" these routines become instinctual akin to breathing.

Well, there you go. I painted the picture and you're left to decide whether or not it's pleasant to immerse yourself in. Suffice it to say, if you've ever been enamored with character driven action adventure rpg hybrids akin to Fable, Zelda, Soul Reaver, Legacy Of Kain, or Nier "Venetica" is a great purchase!

Scarlet, I henceforth judge thee "wonderful" and sentence you to an island paradise inhabited by all the other unsung champions of gaming goodness. Tell Agent Francis York Morgan (And Zach) I said hello!

For you if

Again, if you're not rigidly obsessed with uncanny valley graphics and can forgive a few audio mishaps and minor glitches Venetica is a "perfect pick up" so long as you enjoy action adventure rpgs with moral choices, guilds to join, and multiple endings! The story itself is more original than detractors give it credit for and "the side characters" certainly grow on you and become endearing!

Not for you if

Rpgs fans are a diversified lot. To certain individuals under this broad classification Venetica may come off as a little too 'stream-lined" and "button-mashy" to be able to hold up against more expansive and complex offerings of this genre. If you prefer meticulous customization, huge sprawling fiefdoms with hundreds of random events outside the main quest, and creating your own character Venetica probably wasn't designed with you in mind. Put bluntly, You're not living your own life in Venetica. Like it or hate it, Scarlet's shoes are tied firmly to your feet. You can determine her behavior to some extent but the things which happened to her are set in stone as her past and there's no way to escape this. If Oblivion is about "the world" being the star attraction Venetica is more concerned with the "characters" who inhabit it. One type of rpg is a survivalist reality show safari and the other type is an interactive dramatic play where the audience gets to vote on what the actors will do next during ballot box intermissions . Both approaches can be fulfilling and both approaches have their faults!


+Strong and fascinating female protagonist

+ Conspiracies (I love conspiracies)

+ Gorgeously rendered environs that include Venice and Africa.

+Romance for the female gamers

+ Naughty costumes to collect for the male gamers (Though I'll stick with the armor types myself. Survival of the smartest, aye?)

+Down to earth and endearing NPCs.

+Possibly the best lock picking mini game ever devised!

+Many opportunities for branching choices and unique responses.

+3 different endings

+Fighting each boss in the human world and the spirit world keeps the battles epic and engrossing.

+Being a sexy necromancer babe fulfills multiple fetishes at once!

+ Weapon types have their own merits and flaws

+ Many of Scarlet's "powers" are truly unique and a blast to use on her foes!

+Compatible with an Xbox 360 controller hooked up to the pc

+Seeing from a bird's eye view is a neat gimmick that is helpful to boot.


-There are at least a few randomly occurring glitches such as getting stuck on a ladder or having the game freeze during conversations. (Being able to save at anytime helps ease off the frustration considerably though)

-Game is often obscure about telling you exactly what you have to do in order to progress.

-There are flaws aplenty in the recorded audio conversations and with the lip synching

-Hordes of lesser enemies are more challenging than the actual bosses

-Finicky hit-box detection rears its' ugly head during certain objectives (Flying gargoyle I'm looking at you!)

-Having to map a "block ability" to the D-pad

Bias Opinion

Europe has blessed me with excellent yet under-appreciated rpgs lately. First there was Divinity II: Dragon Knight saga coupled with Sacred Gold and now there's Venetica! It's fast dawning on me always trusting review sites and metacritic is short sighted. To find those "rare gems" we have to dig and follow our own gut. Remember, we're voting with our dollar. There are those moments it pays off big to be a "risk taker". Plodding along as a weak willed sheep following the herd might as well be a bullet in the head of innovation.

Tip for the day: When Nox seems to disappear after running away from the "old temple" he's actually retreated to his home. Ignore the faulty map icon and return to his abode. There you will fight two lectors (electric demons) and be able to continue the quest!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 10, 2012 6:45 PM PDT

Titan Quest Gold (Titan Quest and Titan Quest Immortal Throne)
Titan Quest Gold (Titan Quest and Titan Quest Immortal Throne)
Price: $6.99
12 used & new from $4.00

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost flawless gem within its' own sub genre!, December 10, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There are many injustices in the world. Amongst gaming these offenses take on the form of games that go under-appreciated despite often being "better" than the hyped titles which overshadow them.

Back when I was an early 20 something my best friend was nice enough to share his pc with me and introduce me to Diablo. It was the first game of its' genre I played and I was immediately engrossed by it. Diablo wasn't a game of complexities. In it gamers filled the shoes of a lone adventurer tasked with helping a troubled town via clearing out a foreboding cave of its` demonic inhabitants. Along the way the unlikely hero chugged health and magic potions to survive. A beleaguered slayer of the damned could also buy or find "better gear" to prepare for the worst case scenario right before diving back into the bowels of hell. Every once in awhile the wary protagonist encountered a "boss devil" or "boss undead" which was 5 times more mammoth than anything else encountered before. The ridiculous scaling and size ratio of "under lords" when compared to their lesser minions instilled dread and tension in gamers everywhere.

A year or so later I got the Diablo 2 Battle Chest. It had more classes, a more in depth plot, and a bigger world and yet the magic was already wearing thin for me. Blizzard kept fooling around with things behind the scenes. Certain characters such as the paladin got "nerfed" while bosses and creatures were changed around to the point the strategy guide that came with the Battle Chest was no longer very helpful. To this day fan-boys still claim Diablo 2 is THE BEST of the pack. I cannot help but to think this vocal majority is too doped up on the opium of nostalgia to have an honest opinion.

Don't misunderstand me. I have endearing memories of Diablo 2 yet for some reason the first Diablo is my favorite between them. I'm probably in the minority so weigh that with a little discernment.

It's my personal viewpoint that Titan Quest Gold takes everything Diablo 2 did and does it better. Set in the world of ancient Greece it chronicles the story of "The Titans" emerging from the under world to wreak havoc upon the gods and their mortal followers.

The first thing to take in is the game is beautiful for an isometric dungeon hack. Tall grass sways when you run through it and despite the cornucopia of vibrant colors, detailed flora, impressive water effects, voiced dialogue, and thick hordes of enemies the frame rate only stutters occasionally.

Classes are also much more varied. Though you start out on one path of mastery you'll eventually get to choose a secondary focus and these "combinations" add infinite possibilities. For example when I combined my hunter with a wanderer I got a "Ranger". This allowed me to quicken the rate of my healing items, summon a wolf, and gave me bonuses when fighting any opponent of a somewhat bestial nature. By contrast my friend who joined my campaign was an eclectic blend of a warrior and a necromancer. He could call upon a lich, buff his attack damage, and lay waste to just about anything that was unfortunate enough to enter his path! Our co-op lan party was a seamless experience. After partnering up we could do in game trading and share experience.

If you're afraid Greece is going to get tired to look after awhile, Iron-lore has you covered. You'll travel through Sparta, The Silk Road, The Mediterranean, Egypt, the pits of Hades, and along the creepy shores of the river Styx to get to the bottom of all the unrest and upheaval. Titan Quest has a robust bestiary of monsters to compliment the exotic locales. If you're the type who studies mythological creatures and "ancient civilizations" in general this game will be your chocolate covered cherry topped Sunday!

Accompanying the mass scale slaughtering are countless item drops. Not only can you collect hundreds of weapons, shields, rings, necklaces, and armor pieces but you can also further enhance them via an alchemy system.

Normally the sheer scope of Titan Quest's massive world would make it daunting to explore. Fortunately, a convenient artifact allows participants to instantly portal to any previously visited town whenever they wish. This device is likewise a two-way dimensional gateway enabling players to return to their dungeon without any hiccups or hassles!

Assuming I had a few points to knit pick it would be the voice acting itself isn't the greatest, there are very few ways to customize your character's appearance beyond a gender choice, and the flow of the narrative never gives you a sense of personal investment or identity. Aka the flaws that have been with this genre since its' inception are still lingering around like annoying pigeons on the lawn.

For you if

If you are still waiting for Diablo 3 to chug along you cannot ask for much better filler than Titan Quest. Along with the Sacred series it's a standard setter of the hack n slash rpg mold. With great co-op, beautiful visuals, and easy to understand game play TQ makes it easy for gamers to pick it up and play it without unsavory snags of frustration! TQ also is a love letter to ancient myths, legendary heroes, and old world civilizations.

Not for you if

Many players of rpgs eventually move onto more complex examples of the genre. Sometimes we like an rpg with multiple choices that plays out like a well written book. If you can level anything at TQ it is that its' world is bland save for its' combat. Npcs don't give you a choice of diverse actions to respond with and your hero is built solely for collecting loot and slaughtering droves of baddies. There are gamers out there looking for the next Elder scrolls, the next Mass Effect, the next Witcher, and the next Deus Ex. For them TQ's old fashioned linear conventions could be more tedious than fun.

How does it compare to the competition?

Sacred Gold and Sacred 2 have the inclusion of mounts whereas TQ is lacking.

However, TQ has a more diverse combination of skills and classes. What seems limited at first opens up later when you realize you can mix and match any two occupations to build a unique character.

Sacred 2 definitely seems much bigger when it comes to the sheer scale of its' map. Not only that, but Sacred Gold & Sacred 2 are more of an open ended sandbox allowing you to do quests in any order whereas TQ plods you along in a rather linear direction despite a few branching side quests along the way.

For me co-op was more enjoyable in TQ than it was in Sacred 2 and Sacred Gold. Being able to trade gear with your buddy effortlessly and share gold are major pluses TQ does better than Sacred.

The missions seem more varied in the Sacred series but I personally found many of the escort missions to be nay impossible due to the stupid AI of my companions. By contrast TQ's objectives are less frustrating.

Both competitors break even. If you want mounts, a gigantic map, and the ability to do tasks in any order I'd suggest Sacred Gold or Sacred 2 but if you want a wider array of character builds, smoother co-op, and numerous skills TQ should be your main!

Final verdict

As a hack n slash treasure nabbing rpg TQ gets 5 out of 5 karate chops!

As a riveting epic with interesting characters, branching story paths, and unexpected plot twists it gets 1 disappointed sigh of sheer boredom!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 18, 2013 8:45 PM PST

N3II: Ninety-Nine Nights - Xbox 360
N3II: Ninety-Nine Nights - Xbox 360
Offered by DealTavern
Price: $13.98
34 used & new from $5.94

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great hack n slash but a few issues keep it from achieving total perfection!, November 19, 2011
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
N3II was a gamble on my part. While I staunchly support the hack n slash genre this one got negative marks across the board at many review sites. Was it "that awful"? The masochist in me bristled with excitement as I placed my order!

Disappointingly I must confess this is not a "So bad it's epic!" affair. N3II is simply "rather decent" for the genre and it fails at being the terrible intriguing train-wreck most gaming critics made it out to be. It's not going to blow any minds or stand out as a footnote in history but it's unabashingly enjoyable once you get pass the slight learning curve!

The first thing you'll notice is N3II expects you to sprint around while blocking and tumbling. If you don't pay attention to your surroundings archers, shamans, and annoying bird-things will whittle you down quickly. This game takes the philosophy of "death by a thousand paper cuts" and runs with it shamelessly!

N3II likewise has the distinction of being much harder than a typical Dynasty Warriors title. Some stages end with huge boss battles that can decimate your hero of choice and send you home crying. In other dire situations you must defend a castle gate from an onslaught of enemies who can do damage to the surrounding fortifications over time. "Winning" is one half trial and error and one half leveling up your weapons, stats, and equippable spells. Akin to an rpg N3II expects you to "grind" as you re-do certain missions to farm for experience orbs and hidden items.

Aesthetically N3II went through a bit of an identity crisis. The first game was lively,colorful,and whimsical. It wasn't too embarrassed to make you fight a giant frog-man wearing a king's royal red cape or put you into the shoes of a cute water bubble casting witch flying around on an enchanted staff. N3II by comparison splatters the blood of your enemies onto the camera lens as you cut them in half. The color palette is dimmed by somber broodishness and it really does seem that N3II switched out its' Narnia influence for something that is closer to ASOIAF or Lord Of The Rings. Whether or not you will take to the new style or not depends on the kind of person you are. I can appreciate the direction of both iterations despite the fact their extreme opposite polarities makes it hard for me to accept N3II as a "genuine sequel" to its' predecessor. It's the same shock of alienation that would occur if I watched the first Harry Potter film than proceeded to view Deathly Hallows. That's how jarring the atmospheric differences truly are. Perhaps Konami got "gritty and mature" to appeal to western audiences but sadly we're discussing a genre that is a hard sell here no matter how many severed limbs and brooding protagonists are added to the equation. Combining N3 with N3II would likely result in some kind of freakishly awesome gaming wonder-crack! A shame we'll probably never get a third iteration of this series.

Concerning the combat, I don't take issue with enemies cheaply juggling me once in awhile. Turn about is fair play and I appreciate the added challenge. However, the camera can undermine the player a little too often. It sucks to be mercilessly brutalized in a corner because I cannot even see the location of my character. Luckily this doesn't break the game. A quick evasive roll forward or to the side can usually help you get your bearings. Again, N3II encourages you to not stay idle too long. Amidst a swarm of cheap adversaries taking advantage of you ? Move your arse! Getting pelted by arrows as you try to mow down the infantry? Then change your tactics and go after the snipers on the ridge!

While it's wonderful N3II encourages you to be strategic during fights it's equally a downer you can't order around your allied troops. This was a feature that made the first game more satisfying and there really is no justifiable reason to leave out squad commands in the follow up.

To make up its' shortcomings N3II adds "check points" to the fray. Personally I found them to be very helpful but other gamers have lamented over the fact "auto saves" can be spread too far apart depending on the chapter. I cannot help but to sympathize with the caveats of my brethren. Most games allow us to record or progress whenever we want so why stick to an archaic design choice?

N3II opens up with the lord of night being resurrected. If he can merge the orb of light with the orb of darkness he'll become immortal yet if he cannot do it by the 99th morning he'll revert back to ashes. The elf capital gathers 5 heroes together to restore peace and tranquility to the land. Galen is a dual wielding swords master. Sephia is an elfin princess and wind sorceress who uses bladed silken shawls. Maggni is a stubborn ogre brigand who prefers to maul foes with his bladed shields. Zavvi is a beautiful coa coa skinned elfin archer. The last character is a goblin assassin named Levv who uses chained blades to eviscerate crowds of cronies and to pull himself up to higher locations. On the plus side every character has a lot of attributes and gear to customize. They also have unique skills that aid them in exploring each environment differently from their peers. On the negative side their attack animations and movement patterns are roughly identical.

I may give off the vibe of being unimpressed based upon what I've written up so far. Yet you know what? I totally love this game! It's the first of its' ilk to come along and give me a decent work out even on the easiest setting. While the plot is simplistic it's not cringe worthy and the voice acting is tolerable. It's neat having to tactically balance the re-charge rate of used spells with the next mob busting orb spark attack.

Putting it bluntly, if you find experience farming, buffing up characters,collecting loot,blasting hundreds of adversaries into the air at once, and slicing monsters apart to be soothing and theraputic N3II is worthy of your consideration despite its' faults!

Bias opinion

With easy puzzles, rpg lite elements, multiple playable characters, platforming elements, and outright insane boss monsters N3II may entice hack n slash devotees who are craving for a more challenging adventure. Overall it's a good addition to its' genre but it's not so "ground breaking" it'll usher in brand new followers

The janky camera, a few poorly placed save points, and the lack of local co-op are N3II's main blemishes. Assuming you can forgive those follies it is an addictive, loot intensive, and grind intensive jolly fun jaunt!

For you if

If you're a massive battlefield hack n slash enthusiast, like a challenge, and you are generally put off by the anime aesthetic N3II offers a gloomy and grit covered dark fantasy tale for a cheap reasonable price. It may not end up on your "best games of all time" list but it will delight you deep down in the recesses of your more carnal and self gratifying subconscious!

Not for you if

If you never got into Dynasty warriors and Sengoku Basara or if you preferred the setting of the first N3 this game will not woo your socks off in the slightest. What we have here is a relatively okay game with a few glaring flaws that are hard to ignore for gamers who have set their bars of excellence on a higher level. Even for hack n slash fans N3II isn't quite as impressive as Dynasty Warriors 7 or Sengoku Basara 3. The drastic changes in setting and atmosphere are bound to metaphorically ruffle quite a few feathers the wrong way to boot.

Overall "4 practice bodkins out of 5"

N3II is a game of "mechanics" and what it does it does quite well. This is not a game that needs multiple patches. This is not a game that freezes or corrupts recorded data. It was crafted with the upmost care and attention to detail. Poorly placed save points and an ornery camera are "annoying" but neither imperfection is so glaringly awful it turns the core experience into an unplayable mess.

Fun factor "4 practice bodkins out of 5"

For hack n slash fans N3II delivers a lot of fun wrapped up in its' addictive farming and grinding! The darker fantasy setting,steady challenge,rpg level up system, and big monstrous bosses do much to seperate N3II from other hack n slashers in a good way.

Yet the lack of local co-op, inability to control allied soldiers, and sometimes frustrating spikes in difficulty need to be addressed all the same.

If anything this game intrigued me enough to check out the first one that started it all. Though it's unlikely, I would welcome another N3 game on the consoles with open arms!


+Fun addictive combat

+Characters are nice to look at

+ Orb spark attacks are befittingly flashy

+Platforming segments and light puzzle elements prevent excessive monotony

+All 5 characters have their own story lines and diverse ways to move through the game's many areas.

+Boss monsters are surprisingly well designed and range from awe inspiring to just plain creepy.

+Compelling dark fantasy atmosphere

+Check points

+Hidden items give a lot of incentives to re-play missions.

+Serviceable voice acting and a decent sound track

+Battles require tactics to win

+Online co-op


-Camera is spastic sometimes

- Enemies can easily juggle you if you don't play it safe.

-Protagonists don't seem as "diverse" as they were in the first game.

-Occasionally check points are spread out too far apart.

-The blood, gritty realism. and violence in N3II may alienate the fans who were fond of the previous game's more vibrant and enchanting setting.

-Cannot earn exp. orbs in the coliseum

-The ability to control allied troops is absent

-No local co-op

-Real time event button mash sequences during a few boss battles (Do they have to be in EVERY game now?!)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 16, 2012 11:49 AM PDT

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel - Xbox 360
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel - Xbox 360
Offered by gametreasuresnyc
Price: $49.99
42 used & new from $3.87

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For action rpg fans Sacred 2 is a perfect score! For everyone else? Read this review with a grain of objectivity., November 19, 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's hard doing a proper review for Sacred 2. The map is HUGE and with 600 missions and 6 classes there's a lot to be uncovered. Be that as it may, there's a certain rhythm and pattern prevalent throughout. At its' heart Sacred 2 is a hack n slash loot collector's wet dream come true!

There are those rpgs that try to wow you with a sweeping epic story and highly polished graphical eye candy orgasms. Sadly, if you're expecting that with Sacred 2 you maybe let down a bit. The graphics while decent enough are nothing spectacular.

The plot of high elves abusing a mystic blue goop called "T-energy" which is leaking out of pipes as it blights the land is thinly layered to give you a driving goal beyond fetching teddy bears for little girls, delivering worms to fishermen, and avenging the smashed carts of vegetable vendors. Be that as it may, I thought the subtle nod to environmentalism and "steam punk" was well implemented. It kind of made me reminisce about Final Fantasy 7. After all, T-energy has many parallels with mako energy!

The thing that awes me about Sacred 2 most of all is the sheer size and meticulous detail of its' world. While the detail of the characters is only a notch above passable the caves, rivers, swamps, towns, plains, graveyards, crypts, and occasional odd technological ruins are all very much "alive". Grass sways in the wind, T-energy glows with an eerie blue luminance, skeletons grumpily slam shut their own coffins after they've been opened by careless grave robbers, and people go about their daily lives of farming, patrolling, fishing, and singing. I've always been a gamer who will gladly take a hit to the visuals department if the realm I'm exploring is "massive" with lots to do in it. Fortunately that is where Sacred 2 delivers in droves!

Sacred 2's game play is straightforward. You can assign potions to the arrows on your directional pad and weapons (as well as magic & combat arts) are assigned to your X,Y,A, and B buttons. Keep in mind a shield can be linked to the same designation as a sword, mace, axe, or war hammer. The "Right trigger" and "Left trigger" can be used for additional functionalities as well. Navigating menus is done by pressing RB and LB talks to townsfolk or opens chests. "Junk items" can be scrapped in exchange for gold and all your special techniques and attributes can be upgraded as you level up. Pressing "select" will bring up the full map and if you want to save you can access that option any time by hitting the start button. The only fundamental "flaw' is there is no true "pause" feature. If you want to sort through your treasure and assign stat points when not under duress, going into a town is your best bet!

Sacred 2 offers a few deeper layers to this typical formula. Blacksmiths can assign jewels, pearls, rings, and skulls into weapon slots to give them more power. "Combat runes" can fuse multiple buffs, special attacks, and spells into one action, allowing you to unleash a fury of destruction with a single button press! Luckily Sacred 2 doesn't penalize gamers for neglecting these more complex nuances. Compared to other games of its' genre it is more forgiving and if you really want a challenge, higher difficulty levels beyond "bronze" are available.

Measuring up Sacred 2 to Sacred Gold is perplexing. I love both games and they each have their ups and downs. For example Sacred 2 has less classes but it makes up for it with "special mounts" each protagonist can quest for. Sacred Gold allowed players to decapitate heads, severe limbs, and really lay out the buckets of blood whereas Sacred 2 is far less violent (Even with the gore option on) yet it added funny lines of dialogue enemies mutter when they're slain. Sacred 2 has more varied camera control and is truly "3D" but Sacred Gold looked really impressive for its' time whereas its' sequel in the present cannot aesthetically measure up to rpgs like Witcher 2, Mass Effect 2, Deus Ex Human Revolution, or Divinity 2: Dragon Knight Saga. Sacred Gold took itself much more seriously whereas Sacred 2 outrageously breaks the 4th wall and pokes fun of itself at every opportunity. Both are wonderful hack n slash adventures. Which Sacred you'll become more fond of will boil down to personal preferences as opposed to one actually being better than the other one. As the saying goes, "Apples and oranges"!

In the end you will know if Sacred 2 is "your thing". If you enjoyed games like Diablo 2, Titan's Quest, and Torch-light this is a no brainer. If however you prefer rpgs with deep stories, lovable multi-layered comrades that trounce around by your side, the possibility for erotic romance, and choices hinged on moral dilemmas that decide your destiny, Sacred 2 may seem a tad "uncultured" due to its' blatant refusal to reinvent the wheel or steep itself in blockbuster melodrama.


+ Great sound track

+Staggering number of side quests

+ 6 classes with a diverse set of combat arts and magical arts

+Interesting take on "Steam punk", especially with the Temple Guardian!

+Each protagonist has a unique "home base" and origin.

+Special mounts that are a treat to find. Tired of horses? How about a giant monitor lizard, cute sky drake, gigantic spider, mechanical mono-wheel, hell hound, or Saber-tooth tiger?! That's "epic"!

+ Blind Guardian does a concert "in game" if you do their particular side quest to retrieve their instruments for them. How "Metal" is that?! Very!

+ Huge world. Yeah, even bigger than Skyrim!

+Difficulty curve is just right.

+Varied array of weapons, charms, and armor sets to find.

+Combo rune system returns from the previous Sacred!

+ The enemy bestiary becomes very robust as you keep playing.

+ Huge boss creatures

+Good sense of humor throughout that is mirthfully self aware!

+ The seraphim, dryad, and high elf are all "hawt". Normally I'd omit this as a merit but if you are going to sink 100+ hours into a game it helps to have a "banging booty" to stare at!

+It's appreciated that Sacred 2 still clings to the age old tradition of "showing off" different armors, weapons, and accessories on your protagonist of choice as you equip him or her accordingly.

+ You can adjust the ratio of "nabbing loot" to be more picky about what dropped goods you'll stash away in your inventory. Believe me, this can be helpful because there are A LOT of item drops in this game!


-Controls maybe difficult to understand for those not well versed in the first Sacred or pc gaming in general. (Angry Joe mentions this in his you-tube review but personally I took to the game-play like a fish to water!)

-Sacred 2 was reputedly "buggy" when it first released but I haven't had any problems yet. This could be because I picked it up after there was a patch.

-If you prefer rpgs that are more story and character driven Sacred 2 may disappoint.

-Camera stays zooms out in 2 player local co-op. I understand why the choice was made but it kinda sucks for those of us that want a closer look at the action!

-Less overall character classes available than in Sacred Gold. (I miss the female daemon and vampiress knight in particular)

- Text can be small and "almost" illegible at times. You get used to it but it's very apparent the interface was made for HD televisions. I wouldn't call it "game breaking" but it is annoying.

-You can easily compare items you've already picked up but unfortunately you cannot compare an item still on the ground to one in your inventory. Sometimes ditching something you've already collected "just to make room" for a newer addition is a gamble. Will it be better or will it be worse? Luckily, this problem can be remedied by adjusting your settings to be pickier about what treasure you will salvage and what treasure you`ll automatically leave behind.

-No pause button. (Derp!)

For you if

If Hack N Slash loot-fest rpgs have not lost their luster for you over the years Sacred 2 is a steal at the present price! I'd rank it as one of the better examples of its' genre and the presence of Blind Guardian certainly sweetens the deal for us Heavy Metal fans!

Sacred 2 likewise integrates original ideas we've rarely seen in this genre. The Temple Guardian in particular is a type of class you'll never see repeated anywhere else. A dog-headed or dragon-headed robot with a "gun arm" cannot help but to stick out! Based upon the context of Ancaria's "technological revolution" such a character manages to still fit in with the setting.

If you're searching for some couch co-op or Xbox live camaraderie this game offers a good excuse to get together with your friends, spouse, or intelligent talking pet!

The map of Ancaria is enormous so those willing to explore off the beaten path can easily reap 100 hours out of this massive steam-punk fantasy harvest!

Not for you if

For many gamers a "good story" is a key component to the rpg experience. While I wouldn't say Sacred 2's plot is "awful" it's also not that compelling either. It throws in a few unique and intriguing concepts yet is too scatter brained to build upon any of them with sufficient poise.

In addition Sacred 2 isn't the prettiest beau in her class. (She's a cute lass though! Aka she's not a hideous retina melting abomination or anything)

There may also be those of you who preferred the more serious Diablo-esque tone and wider selection of character classes from Sacred Gold.

If you cannot help but to be an unabashed graphics snob or if you are one of those obsessive compulsive fans who sabotages the chance of a sequel being better than the original predecessor in your addled mind, it's suggested to give this one a pass.

Lastly, Sacred 2 is better for people with idle days coming up on their schedule. If you're still busy at work or at school you should save Sacred 2 for a lengthy vacation!

Bias opinion

In an alternate universe where I bought Sacred 2 at launch while having to deal with its' initial bugs it probably got a few points docked off from its' over all score. Be that as it may, in "this reality" I got it after the patch thus I didn't have to deal with corrupt save data, weird glitches, or any other "gremlins" running around in the system. I still wouldn't be surprised to find coding flaws in a game with this massive scope later on but it hasn't happened yet. (According to a friend, Star Ocean Last Hope was buggy as heck too but I was so lucky that I blissfully skipped around its' shortcomings while being none the wiser!)

Believe it or not, there is apart of me that's a well written narration junky and a part of me that revels in making pivotal fate altering decisions as I try to woo the socks off all my female party members. Aka Dragon-age Origins and Persona 4 are two of my favorite rpgs!

Yet I also like a game that gives me a chance to go anywhere and carve out my own path of destiny. I love hacking and slashing at hundreds of unique enemy types while hearing that satisfying jingle of treasure dropping off corpses. I don't always require an entourage of celebrity voiced automatons following me nor do I always need a game trying to appeal to my tastes in anime, my tastes in movies, and my tastes in literature.

If a game is fun I'll take notice, even if it wasn't done on the biggest budget. Sacred 2 is simply loads of enjoyment for a reasonable price. It's no Skyrim but I don't think it was attempting to be Elder Scrolls to begin with. Later people may compare Sacred 2 to Diablo 3 but frankly at least for me the Sacred series as a whole is leagues more rewarding than Diablo 1 and 2 ever were. Sure, Diablo did the whole action rpg/treasure looting/dungeon exploration hybrid jazz first but I think the people who still claim it does it the best are wearing foggy nostalgia goggles.

Look, if you covet games akin to Diablo, Titan Quest, Loki, Torch Light, and Gauntlet Legends Sacred 2 and Sacred Gold will rock your socks off! It may not end up being your absolute favorite series in this genre as it is for me but it will definitely sate a craving and fill a void until Diablo 3 comes out!

For this reason both Sacred 2 and Sacred Gold get my highest recommendations!

Broken's miscellaneous tip of the day

Healing potions work on people you are escorting to safety as well. Even if the local wolves and ill tempered kobolds are not damaging you directly, it's highly recommended that you swig a red elixir every once in awhile to keep your companions alive!

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