Posts Tagged ‘Video Games’

I honestly didn’t know much about Tribes before I got into Ascend. I’ve heard passing mentions about the series, but it was always dwarfed by the much more popular Quake and Unreal. Since then, however, the excessively fast FPS genre has more or less died out in favor of tactical shooters (read: camping to death). That alone should make Tribes: Ascend worth checking out.


  • Strong competitive scene
  • Free to play, limited pay to win
  • Diverse, versatile classes
  • Fast, heavily skill based gameplay


  • Extremely grindy progression
  • CTF gameplay is one dimensional and lackluster
  • Monotonous, unappealing map design
  • Monster PC requirements due to horrible optimization
  • Glitchy

VISUAL: 7/10

The in-game graphics option (yes, option, not options) is useless, so the first thing you’ll need to do is google a tweak guide. I’d also suggest you start from the lowest setting, since many of the effects are of outdated technology and yet put unreasonable strain on your system and do nothing but kill your framerate and obscure your vision. The bloom, for example, is horribly over-saturated and becomes almost like a fog, and pretty much completely blinds you when coupled with lens flare.

Besides that, it’s unlikely you’d miss the higher quality anyways. Every map consists 95% of random hills, sporting only a handful of buildings or other distinguishable landmarks. Most of the time, you have no idea where you are, and will eventually stop caring. No amount of static decals or building shadows is gonna make a bunch of hills that all look alike interesting. The detail on the player models is the game’s finest aesthetic touch, but most of the game is spent either going too fast or being too far to notice those details anyways. That said, the actual graphical quality of the game isn’t so terrible that it doesn’t look modern, but considering that it’s 2012 and how much system resources the game gluttons at max settings, it should really look like Crysis. And yet, it doesn’t even have anti aliasing.

How not to design a map

Where it falters in aesthetics, it generally succeeds in utility. HUD visibility is clear and it’s easy to tell which direction you’re being hit from, and there are options to improve visibility further, such as drawing smaller weapon models or turning off visor cracking. FOV is also adjustable in-game up to 120. Not knowing where you are won’t much matter thanks to the large objective icons.

AUDIO: 9/10

Low music in the background helps keep the adrenaline flowing, and weapon sounds are distinct and clear enough to identify both the weapon and direction it was fired from. Audio in a FPS really doesn’t need to do any more than that. The lack of built in voice chat may inconvenience a few, though I find it a blessing. This game has, by far, the largest selection of prerecorded voice messages of any FPS I’ve ever played in my life, and are probably sufficient for any tactical situation you’d encounter.


Although advertisements emphasize speed, it’s more a high flying shooter than a fast one. You can build up a lot of speed with skiing, which works by removing all friction once you press the ski button. Basically, falling onto down slopes accelerates you, while trying to ski uphill slows you down. You can pick up speed by using the jetpack to boost yourself up past up slopes and repeatedly dropping yourself on down slopes, and eventually you do end up going quite fast. However, most of the actual shooting each other isn’t fought at high ski speeds, but rather at walking and jetpacking speeds. Perhaps that’s still faster than something like Call of Duty, but it’s really only slightly faster than Team Fortress 2, and a far cry from Quake. That isn’t to say it isn’t much more difficult to hit people than TF2, however. The wide open terrain and jetpacks gives full movement across all 3 axises, allowing every class to have more defensive movement than TF2’s scout can even dream of.

The other thing that raises the skill requirement and makes defensive movement so much more effective is the lack of hitscan weapons (weapons that hit instantly after firing). Rather, most bullet weapons shoot a small fast traveling projectile, forcing you to lead your shots rather than just pointing the crosshair straight at the target. To make things more complicated, any projectiles you fire inherit a portion of your own velocity. Say you’re traveling N and fire to the E, your projectiles will actually travel a bit towards NE, rather than straight E. This makes landing significant damage highly challenging. In fact, the game awards accolades for killing an airborne opponent with the series’ trademark low rate-of-fire explode-on-impact weapons, such as the spinfusor. Don’t mistake them for being easy mode noobtubes, as their splash radius is very small for the size of the game’s maps, and most players spend a lot of their time being high up in the air, where the splash means nothing. This boils down the game’s basic strategy to chipping away with bullet weapons while they’re airborne, and trying to catch them with explosives when they inevitably land.


There are 9 unique classes, and all of them are balanced in the sense that they can all duel competently. The only exception is the sniper class, who although is given the only long range hitscan weapon, does terrible dps and has the lowest health. Rather, his main purpose is to be to pick off weakened flag carriers in CTF, which is the worst balanced and most shallow of all the game modes anyways.


You only start with 3 of the 9 classes, with only basic gear for each. All other classes and gears need to be unlocked with real money or experience, which is earned at a snail’s pace. You only get around 35-50 exp per minute depending on your scoreboard rank and whether or not your team wins, but usually you’ll end up at around 40. A single weapon can cost 88k exp, which is more than a 36 hour grind. Considering each class has to pick 2 weapons, a belt item, a pack item, and 2 perks, you might find that the loadout you want could take over 100 hours of playtime to achieve. Even the cheapest classes will take around 50 to deck out.

Real money is drastically more reasonable, with 88k exp items costing only 500 gold without sales, which is roughly $5. While it’s certainly better than games that offer game breaking real money exclusive gear, the free option is so unreasonably ridiculous to achieve, that paying still gives a sizable advantage, especially if they used the money to deck out more than 1 class for the versatility.

Whether you pay or not, once you have the new weapon, you still need to grind for that weapon’s mastery to unlock sometimes crucial abilities, which could be be up to another 26k exp, or another 11 hours. Why Hi-Rez decided the game should have almost as much grinding as an MMORPG is beyond me, but it’s a severe nuisance that heavily discourages learning multiple classes.


Technically, there are 5 different game modes. However, some are so similar to others that it only feels like 3, and 2 of them are pretty standard fare. TDM has a small twist of there being 1 flag which will spawn on the first kill of the match, and the team who holds it takes off 2 points per kill, and is easily the most balanced of all game modes. For a flagless experience, there’s Arena…which is basically the same as TDM, but limited to 5v5 and is played on smaller maps. Unfortunately, the maps are also much flatter, leaving the ski mechanic generally unused, transforming the game from the fastest shooter to merely the highest flying.

CTF Blitz is like CTF, except the flag moves with every cap. However, since the flag only moves about 3 feet, they end up playing out exactly the same. Many people have told me CTF is the main game mode of Tribes, but I find it easily the most shallow and worst balanced. Flag placements are almost always out in the wide open, which boils down capping to picking pathfinder, and just skiing really fast into it, which will bypass most, if not all the base defenses and defenders. The only real counter to it so far is having a doombringer sit on the flag and try to block the pathfinder with his fatness while cutting him down with his chaingun, or having a sentinel snipe the runner. The capper will then have to either navigate around the fat guy, or try to push him away by chucking grenades and shooting his spinfusor (if you’ve never played Tribes, they work exactly like a rocket launcher) at the flag before reaching it. Sentinels with the accuracy to hit a high speed capper the 2-3 times it takes to kill them at full health are extremely rare, causing the game mode to be renamed by many to Pathfinder vs Doombringer. This also causes the most severe team stacking of all modes, as anyone looking to play any other class in CTF is essentially being unimportant details, and the pinnacle of their contributions would be to inconvenience the enemy, hopefully enough that their defenders become so irritated that they leave the flag unguarded to kill them.

There are other mechanics, just as the team generator which powers all base assets such as turrets, forcefields, refill stations, and vehicle station, but most of those generally don’t affect a decent capper at all. Taking out refill stations might sound useful, but the respawn time in this game is so short (only 3 seconds), most players will just suicide to reload or get back into position anyways. Vehicles in this game are generally useless, but I’ll get more into that later.

The last mode is Capture and Hold, which is sadly often forgotten and underplayed. It recycles maps from CTF and TDM, and spawns cap points at several locations on the map. You capture them simply by touching them, and hold them by not letting the enemy touch them. Some come with their own turrets and refill stations to help the defenders. Periodically, captured points will give your team….well, points. It’s a more balanced attack and defend gameplay than CTF, yet most rounds often turn up rather slow and uneventful, as most players will simply focus their defenses on a few points and end up standing around waiting most of the time, or they’ll be checking each cap point to see which is left mostly unguarded. Eventually the game will reach an equilibrium, where more or less everyone turtles to death because every cap point has exactly enough defenders to not be taken. However, I imagine with an organized team that works together rather than pugs, the experience would be much different.


Quite simply, they’re useless. The bike is supposed to be used for getting around quickly, but it isn’t remotely difficult to ski much faster than it. The tank is just a huge, slow target that people are only even gonna bother acknowledging the existence of to pick on for free credits. The cannon has a terrible rate of fire, and the person manning the much more useful chaingun can’t also be driving, making it not terribly effective for combat either. The jet is fairly mobile, but still not as quick as a good skier, making it’s primary use of ramming itself into flag carriers exceedingly difficult, even assuming the pilot is careful enough to not kill himself by crashing into a hill. Like all vehicles, the gun on it has a terrible rate of fire and only does modest damage. In the end, the jet is often merely a decoration, being fairly difficult to destroy, but also serving little to no purpose.


Though healthy enough that you won’t have any difficulty finding a game, thanks to the atrocious matchmaking spreading everyone out, it’s a rarity to find a full 16v16 game (arena doesn’t have this issue, being limited to 5v5). You basically choose a game mode, and the game will automatically throw you into a match.

Cheaters are a rarity, having personally only run into 1 aimbotter in over 100 hours of play. The only gripe I have is the team stacking, though this is usually done by weaker players. Most of the best players will join teams randomly, so as long as there’s enough of them in a single game to spread out, teams end up pretty balanced anyways. CTF is the exception, but that’s more the game mode being terribly designed than anything. Player maturity also drops somewhat in CTF, with most players being bored and spamming voice messages nonstop, presumably because they’re neither a pathfinder nor doombringer, and is therefore incapable of contributing meaningfully anyways.

Visual: 7
Audio: 9
Gameplay: 9
Community: 9

OVERALL: 9 (not an average)

Regardless of its many flaws, the fact of the matter is that this is the only new fast FPS available. It certainly can’t stand up to impossible standard of finesse and depth of Quake and UT, but it does well enough that it’s still easily the funnest multiplayer FPS I’ve played since. Tribes: Ascend is a shot of adrenaline, digitally distributed.


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(also on PS3 and Xbox 360)

From small indie developer Frozenbyte, Trine 2 is a fairy tale themed side scrolling action platformer which focuses mainly on physics based puzzles. It’s been out and well praised for quite some time, but I’ve finally had a chance to play it when a friend unexpectedly gifted it to me on Steam. As it turns out, Trine 2 is one of the most fantastic puzzle platforming experiences I’ve ever had.


  • Rich, beautifully detailed environments
  • Many hidden/optional side areas/puzzles to explore/solve
  • Distinctive, diverse levels
  • Light hearted soundtrack emphasizes the fairy tale theme
  • Solid voice acting that brings out the personality of the characters
  • Many different viable solutions for each puzzle
  • Classic mode multiplayer’s character lock shuts out solutions that require quick character switching, but opens up new ones that require teamwork
  • PC version is well optimized and easy to run
  • PC controls are simple and intuitive


  • Combat is very simplistic and suffers a lack of enemy variety
  • Extremely easy until the last 3 levels
  • Character progression is limited and imbalanced
  • In multiplayer, character progression is dictated entirely by the host
  • Predictable plot

Trine 2 is most definitely not a hardcore gamer’s game. It’s not about difficulty, or challenge, or mastering the mechanics. Rather, it’s more a casual leisurely stroll through wondrous environments while overcoming mostly low danger obstacles, an experience fitting of its fairy tale motif.

The look on the octopus’s face says it all.

VISUAL: 9.5/10

While not sporting the most advanced graphics technology by a longshot, Trine 2 is easily in the upper echelon when it comes to artistic beauty. The vibrant colors and extensive detail all around go a long way in bringing its fairy tale world to life. More impressive still is that even with so many different colors and shapes on screen at all times, it never seems to clutter up the player’s vision. It’s also why I went pretty screenshot crazy for this review.

One of the prettiest games you’ll ever see.

The areas explored also enjoy a good bit of diversity, though forests and caves tend to take up a bit more screen time than other areas, causing them to lose a bit of distinctiveness. The other areas, however, are unmistakable from one another. From beautiful beaches to icy goblin settlements, from cobwebbed libraries to lava filled forges, you can be assured you’ll never grow tired of the scenery.

Or the Cthulhu shrines.

Granted, however, there are times when that indie level technology shows itself. Liquid particles are massive, which still looks great in motion, but bunch up in a mess if left stationary on a flat surface, such as when you’re trying to carry some on a plank. A few character animations are also rather stiff, such as Zoya’s grapple swing. Ultimately, they aren’t severe or prominent enough for the game to be considered anything less than gorgeous.

All the other details make up for a few visual tech limitations.

AUDIO: 9/10

Although not particularly catchy or memorable, the music is still quite pleasant. More importantly, it reinforces and furthers the adventurous fairy tale atmosphere, much like what the Shadows of the Colossus soundtrack does for the drama and massive scale of that game. The calm, plodding pace dashed with a bit of awe and foreboding dread coincides with the gameplay and visual elements perfectly, making every track sound just right as you’re playing.

Amadeus, the whipped cowardly wizard sounds rightfully mousy.

Likewise, the voice acting isn’t quite triple A quality. But the cartoony voices reflect, and thus help bring out, the cartoony personalities of the characters they belong to. And as all fairy tales should, the narrator sounds properly like a generic grandpa telling bed time stories to children.

GAMEPLAY: 8.5/10

In single player, you freely switch between 3 characters and use their unique traits to advance in the game. Amadeus generally takes all the puzzles with his ability to conjure boxes and planks and move objects around the screen via telekinesis. Zoya is able to shoot far objects with her bow and reach high places with her grapple. Pontius excels in combat and smashes things.

Zoya, the practical greedy “entrepreneur”, and nigh omnipotent by end game.

Their uniqueness wanes as the game progresses, however. Zoya becomes highly competent in combat in addition to being able to smash things once she picks up the explosive arrows skill. Amadeus also becomes a decent fighter once he increases the amounts of boxes he can conjure, which kills anything short of a boss in a single hit. He also has no problems reaching high places once he maxes out his conjuration count.

Pontius, the oogabooga. He draws the short straw on character progression and team contribution.

Pontius, however, never gets any abilities that improve his mobility besides a running charge that can go into a long jump, which unfortunately never goes quite long enough. Rather, he gets abilities to slightly improve his combat effectiveness instead. Considering how little combat there actually is, that’s disheartening already. To make things worse, once all characters are maxed out, he isn’t even significantly better in combat than his colleagues. With Amadeus being able to rain down one hit kill boxes and Zoya getting the choice of long range high aoe damage explosive arrows or long charge time one hit kill freeze arrows, Pontius is left with no other combat advantages besides his ability to block his shield, a tool that’ll be often underused, since Amadeus and Zoya will either kill them long before they get to attack or keep them in hitstun with explosions. Thus, he ends up underplayed and often forgotten.

He saved the pumpkins at least.

He does see a bit more use in multiplayer though, where he can shield other players from hazards like falling acid or spike balls. It’s still hard not to feel like you’re dragging the team down, since he still has no way of getting through most puzzle platforming rooms and basically has to just wait for Amadeus to build a path for him.

Exploring to admire the pretty sights may be rewarding enough for a few, but finding hidden exp vials is also the main way of leveling up.

The actual game revolves heavily around platforming and exploration. Most of it is extremely forgiving, emphasizing more on smart conjuration placement or finding grapple points. Likewise, environmental hazards can often be avoided entirely in the same manner. You will want to explore every branching path and optional puzzles though, as they generally contain exp vials which are used to buy new abilities, many of which will be required in later levels of the game. There are a few extreme difficulty spikes near the end of the game that require strict timing and some luck, which could get frustrating if you’re going for the hardcore mode achievements.

Although some endgame platforming sections are technically possible without making use of upgraded abilities, it’d be unreasonably difficult to pull off.

The puzzles generally offer a great deal of freedom, with a variety of mostly physics based mechanics, such as jamming cogs, redirecting air/liquid flow, or redirecting objects with portals. Oftentimes, they could either be solved elaborately, creating an ACME style contraption with whatever’s lying around to form a makeshift pipe system, or in an incredibly primitive fashion such as just splashing the liquid towards the target by jumping into it with Pontius’s shield. This is both good and bad. While it may be fun to figure out all the possibilities, you’ll find that often times, the least clever solution is the most effective, so they generally won’t give as much satisfaction for completing as something like Portal 2’s puzzles. It does, however, eliminate any risk of frustration.

Many puzzle rooms can be entirely skipped by doing something as simple as creating a grapple point and just swinging past it.

Finally, there’s the combat, which is highly disappointing. The abundance of health restoring checkpoints and zero consequence for death makes enemies more of a nuisance than anything. Furthermore, there’s only a few enemies types in the game, all of which is dealt with more or less the same way, and only a handful are even a threat at all even on hardcore mode. There are your regular fodders, be they lizards or archers or shield carriers, all fall quickly to any basic attack. Later in the game, you start fighting flaming goblin minibosses, which become the only regular encounter that requires any kind of thinking…and only until you realize they still fall victim to Amadeus’s OHKO falling boxes. Outside of 2 major boss battles, every other boss behaves exactly the same, and are dealt with in the same way with only minor differences in the combat terrain. Although not a major focus of the game, there are still many combat sections, and that its depth has been so overlooked does hurt the overall experience quite a bit.

The giant goblin bosses become so generic by the end of the game, I can’t even remember how many of them there were.

CONTENT: 7.5/10

The game sports 11 fairly large and diverse levels, excluding the tutorial and final boss levels. Finding every exp pick up and secret in this game takes around 10 hours, but considering there’s not much of a reason to upgrade Pontius and the secrets don’t actually do anything, a regular run of the game could take a bit less than that. The secret chests in the game don’t have much practical value either, providing only some concept art and poems that shed slightly more light into the rather simplistic and predictable plot. Still, considering the game is only $15 without any Steam sale going on, that’s decent value.

The actual loot you get from secret chests is a lot less exciting than it looks.

If you’re an achievement hunter, you could get maybe another 10 hours trying to beat the game on hard difficulty hardcore mode, where you die in 1-2 hits, restore points can only be used once, and you cannot save or respawn at checkpoints during the level. However, with the level design being mostly long and easy, this becomes more frustrating than accomplishing, since nearly all your gameovers will come from a dumb mistake costing you a crucial character in an upcoming section, forcing you the restart all the way from the beginning of the level.

This room being the worst perpetrator of all, coming late into the level, and is the most difficult platforming section in the game. It’s followed immediately by a goblin ambush on both sides, ensuring many hardcore mode gameovers.


Honestly, I don’t even know what’s considered a good community in today’s standard anymore. I get instantly kicked from over half the games I try to join because they either wanted to duo with a friend or because they don’t wanna get character locked. But since this is clearly a user error, I’m gonna be pessimistic and just say the Trine 2 community isn’t the most intelligent, seeing as they neither know how to set up a private game nor turn off character lock in the game options, even though they’re both on the first screen you see after selecting “host a multiplayer game”. Then when you finally do join a game? There’s a decent chance they’re cheating to death with player levitation and is just flying Zoya around the entire map at a rate of 1 screen per hour to pick up all the exp vials.

Once you do finally manage to find a proper game with 2 other intelligent life forms however, the experience is amazing. Many of the puzzle solutions change, as you no longer have the abilities of all 3 characters acting on 1 body. While it may be simple in single player to simply grapple up a high ledge with Zoya, then switch to Pontius to smash something, in multiplayer, you would have to take advantage of having multiple bodies and having Amadeus hold a box in midair for Pontius to jump up the ledge. This makes some puzzles much more difficult thanks to Pontius’s lack of mobility, but others much simpler, such as simply having Pontius shield the group through a waterfall of lava instead of building pipeworks to redirect the lava. It’s an incredibly well thought out feature that’s unfortunately very difficult to experience in public games. I can only imagine that if I actually had friends that enjoyed coop puzzle games, it would’ve been a blast.

Forever alone =(

Visual: 9.5
Audio: 9
Gameplay: 8.5
Content: 7.5
Multiplayer: 6.5

OVERALL: 9 (not an average)

While not without imperfections, Trine 2 is a game in which it’s individual elements sync up so well with each other that it truly ends up being more than the sum of its parts. Its greatest shortcoming of all is probably the relatively niche appeal of its subject matter. If you’re not completely allergic to fairy tales and can stave off your need for a game to inflate your ego though, this game is definitely an experience I’d recommend. It may not be the most exciting or challenging, but it’s easily the most delightful platformer I’ve played since LittleBigPlanet.

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I have nothing to review at the moment, so I’m gonna post a filler that might possibly be useful, since New Vegas is coming out tomorrow and is using the same engine. You’d think they’d fix the issues, but considering it’s made by Obsidian (aka Black Isle)…I wouldn’t count on it. Let’s face it, I mean, I loved all their games, but their QA has always been pretty non-existent, and this engine is picky as hell with the cards it’ll work with.

Anyways, you’re probably here cuz you have a GPU that isn’t from 5 years ago and the game either crashes, or the HDR doesn’t work, or you get a black screen, etc. Mostly, it boils down to the game not recognizing your card and assigning a set of “compatibility” shaders for it (which aren’t actual compatible with ANYTHING apparently), and minimizing most of the hidden graphics options, which you can crank back up at and customize at /documents/my games/(name of game)/(name of game).ini, and I strongly suggest you do so by referring to this site: http://www.tweakguides.com/Oblivion_1.html. Don’t touch that yet though. First, let’s fix your shader problem.

Let me tell you first that I didn’t create this fix. I’m just gonna tell you how to make it better (kinda like what I did with the SH5 one). Fortunately, this time I didn’t be an idiot and lose the link to the fix. So first, go download this d3d9.dll here: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=6LHPT9ZC and put it in the same directory as your game’s main exe (DO NOT replace the one in your system directory, you WILL screw up your system). Video demo is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GN5HbMsMVE. What it basically does is trick your game into thinking you have a GeForce 7900 GS, and give you full access to all graphics options and use a 3.0 shader package, since it seems that’s the most advanced GPU that this engine seems to be fully compatible with.

But of course, that’s an old card. We have better ones now, so why not use an even better set of shaders? Go to your game’s directory and look in /data/shaders. Rename shader package 13 (which the 7900GS uses) to something else, and make a copy of shader 19, then rename that copy to the same filename as what 13 used to be.


Now go in-game and make sure everything’s working, set the graphics to your liking, and then you can further adjust it with the .ini file, using the tweak guide above to help you.

If New Vegas ends up going horribly wrong, this fix will probably limit your graphics options, being so old. However, you can still try to adjust the .ini settings and try different shader packages. You can check which shader is currently assigned to your card in the renderer info file in the same directory as the .ini.


If anyone’s still asking, it’s easy to have both AA and HDR in Oblivion nowadays. Turn HDR on in-game, then go to Catalyst Control Center (or whatever graphics manager Nvidia uses, if you have a GeForce), and just set it to force AA. It’s an option that’s actually made especially for Oblivion.

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Ys Seven (PSP)

Ys (pronounced “ease”) is a little known and often overlooked cult favorite action RPG series that spent most of its time being brushed off as a simple Zelda knockoff. With this latest installment, those days are over. It’s taken a chunk out of the Secret of Mana series as well, and cranked the action up to 11. Don’t let the dated graphics fool you. Ys Seven indeed retains the nostalgic old school gaming spirit, but it’s also modernized away the woes from days long past.


  • Old school gameplay style
  • Modernized mechanics and gameplay
  • No more grinding thanks to a scaled EXP system
  • Exciting, challenging boss battles
  • Addition of party members to series greatly alleviates repetition problems of other entries in the series (max party of 3)
  • 13 skills of varying effects, unique super attacks, and passive party buff for each of the 7 playable characters adds more variety and combo possibilities
  • Soundtrack generally lives up to Falcom’s reputation for excellency in the area
  • Nearly nonexistent load times


  • Graphics are about on par with Parasite Eve on PS1, which came out over 12 years ago
  • Pretty bad aliasing issues
  • Simple polygons
  • Missing model animations
  • Many characters have one dimensional personalities. Some have nonsensical sudden personality changes
  • Quite a few key characters are underdeveloped
  • Agonizingly boring, unimaginative, and repetitive dialogue
  • Incredibly cliche plot
  • No extra content at all
  • No reason to play through more than once
  • Dungeons later in the game really start to drag

Regardless of its glaringly obvious and quite severe shortcomings, this has been one of the funnest action RPGs I’ve ever played. It’s not pretty to look at, and in fact, the ugliness actually does cause issues in a few very chaotic boss fights, where you may lose yourself amidst all the aliased effects, but that’s really the biggest issue. The writing is horrible, but it seems they knew this when making this game and have added a built in fast forward feature for cutscenes and dialogue, so that’s not really a problem. Overall, it’s still a very fun ride while it lasts, but there’s absolutely no reason to keep it around once you’re done with it.

VISUAL: 3.5/10

One of the game’s greatest faults. Quite frankly, if it was any uglier, it could pass as a DS game. The polygons are ridiculously simple, as are many textures. Their idea of a shadow effect is a texture with the edges darkened. Many textures are essentially a solid uniform color. And then there’s the model animations. For some bizarre reason, many transitional animations are just outright missing. For example, instead of showing a character crouching, what they’ll do instead is fade out the old character model, then fade in a new one of the character already crouching. Fortunately, this happens primarily in cutscenes, which many of you are most likely going to skip anyways. Battle animations seem to all be intact.

Octagonal moons sure are mystical.

This game also has some of the worst aliasing problems I’ve ever seen on the platform. The jagged edges are so bad, it almost looks as if the 3D render doesn’t even run in the system’s native 480×272 resolution, and is actually upscaled from a lower res. This causes problems in some of the chaotic boss fights (of which there are many) where the screen is littered with so many aliased transparent effects, that everything kinda just blends together in this mess of pixels and you can’t actually see what’s going on anymore.

That said, it isn’t all bad. There are occasionally some pretty advanced blur and lighting effects that look almost out of place. Sadly, they’re far and few in between, and rather hard to appreciate when it’s set onto a backdrop of jagged edges and simplistic polygons. At the very least, the battle special effects are generally much higher quality than the world and character models with much less aliasing, and they will often fill your screen. The artwork also looks quite nice.

Probably the prettiest area of the game, showing off some lush (though non-dynamic) lighting effects on the flowers and a trailing blur effect when the screen moves. It looks pretty out of place in the midst of those octagonal “circles” and low quality models though.

AUDIO: 8.5/10

Although there a few pretty terrible tracks (*cough*Raud’s theme), the music you hear most often are among the best. Many of the town and cutscene tracks are fitting, but forgetable and generally unmoving, though there are a few great ones among them too (I’m particularly fond of Kylos’s music). This is a very action heavy game, and most of your time will be spent in the overworld, dungeons, or a boss battle, and most of these tracks are excellent. They’re bassy, hard rocking, and exciting, greatly adding to the fun of chopping up enemies. You would be doing this game a great disservice to play it without decent headphones, as almost all the bass is lost with the PSP’s pathetic little speakers. This is definitely a game you’d want to have the soundtrack for, if you’re into that.

There’s no voice acting outside of battle grunts, which is actually rather refreshing after the Prinny English VAs made my ears bleed and Lunar ones made me grate a full cm off my teeth in about 5 minutes. Otherwise, the sound effects are rather unremarkable, other than they manage to sound old school but without the low quality of old days.


Although 2 or 3 major plot points will drop your jaw, most of it is cliche and boring. You’re a goody two shoes adventurer, Adol, and you randomly stumble upon a quest to save the world. In order to do so, you must visit 5 dragon shrines and gain their power. Along the way, you meet a bunch of people who happen to have problems, so you help out. And that’s about it…for the first half of the game. I won’t spoil the second half for you, since the plot really gets going after a major plot twist halfway through, but I can tell you it does get better. Sadly, due to character underdevelopment issues, it still wasn’t commendable nor memorable, outside of one major twist near the end.

The plot isn’t the worst part though. Probably the single worst thing in this game is the dialogue, especially from NPCs, and it ruins the already unimpressive plot to a point where it actually hurts to keep reading. I kid you not, there are literally dialogues that go:
“We’re looking for the Eldress of Shannoa, Fatima.”
“Is that so…”
“Are you Fatima, the Eldress of Shannoa?”
“Yes, I am Fatima, the Eldress of Shannoa. What can I do for you?”
“We need your help, Fatima.”
“Oh, and what can the Eldress of Shannoa do for you?”
“There are some problems Altago is facing that we hope you could shed some light on, being the Eldress of Shannoa.”
“Oh, what sort of problems? I, Fatima, will see what I can do.”
And that was from a plot cutscene. Talking to NPCs is even worse. Most of them won’t say anything you won’t hear about 5 million times from the main story anyways, and when they don’t, it’s about some mundane, completely irrelevant subject like government politics or fashion. It’s so bad, that the best piece of dialogue in the game is a blatant reference to Aeris from FF7 and the controversy over the spelling of her name (Aeris/Aerith). When the only way they can make dialogue interesting is to refer to a character from another game they had no part in making, that says a lot about the general quality of their writing.

Thanks for the newsflash, captain obvious. Thanks for the great shadow “effects” too, Falcom. At least the art looks good.

I’m normally pretty adamant about talking to everyone in RPGs, but I honestly couldn’t bear to speak with another NPC again after the first town and simply used an FAQ to find quest NPCs. I strongly advise you all to do the same.


Finally, there’s the meat of the game. Gone are the stale repetitive mechanics of old Ys, as there are now 7 unique characters to choose from to form a party of 3 of your choice, each with a unique passive party buff (such as increasing damage dealt or EXP gained), and 13 unique skills of various effects. They can do anything from sucking in a mob of enemies, launching them, knocking them down, inflicting status ailments, pushing them away, pulling them towards you, firing projectiles, jumping into the air for safety, and many other properties. You can equip up to 4 skills at a time and use them by holding R and pressing the corresponding face button. Skills in action RPGs are nothing new of course, but what is impressive about Ys Seven’s is the variety and possibilities with them. They’re not just things you spam for damage. There are skills meant for direct damage of course, but generally you use them for special properties. Against normal enemies, it’s much better to launch or knock them down with a low SP skill then wail on them with regular attacks than to waste a high SP damage attack on them, for example. You’ll also find yourself in some situations against bosses where you have to create distance to dodge an attack, then close the distance with a fast traveling skill first before laying down the hurt. It’s not ground breaking, but for what it is, it is exceptionally well done and adds a lot of combo and tactical possibilities so it never feels like you’re just doing the same thing over and over.

The AI is also excellent. While they are excellent at staying alive and only take half damage, they also only deal half damage and will only attack when you do. What it essentially boils down to is that the AI pretty much holds onto 2 characters for you while providing minor support, but the one you’re controlling is always the star of the show. If you want to reap the full benefits of another character, you’re gonna have to control them yourself.

The super meter from Ys 6 is back, now known as the Extra Gauge. It slowly recharges by itself, and also from using skills (more depending on number of hits) and flash guarding (more on that later). Unlike skills, extras aren’t that different from one another that it makes a difference, and quite frankly, there’s no reason not to use the strongest extra every time, seeing as your whole party shares the same meter. Only 2 party members have non-direct damage extras, and one of them is completely useless, since all it does is increase that character’s normal attack damage.

Also new to the series is flashing guarding. Basically, you hold R and press L right before you get hit. You’ll take no damage, gain a large chunk of SP and extra, a short moment of invincibility afterwards, and about 2 seconds where all your attacks automatically crit. However, if you mistime the guard, you in turn, will be critted. A double edged sword (no pun intended) that adds more depth to battles. Although severely overpowered when mastered, it’s wholly unnecessary for completing the game, even on nightmare difficulty. But it does give you more ways of beating a boss than just dodging and hitting back, further alleviating repetition issues of old games. However, attempting to overuse flash guard may lead to occasional frustration, since many bosses momentarily freeze when hit, and your AI party members may still be pummeling the boss while you’re anticipating an attack, causing you to mistime your guard and taking massive damage for it.

PROTIP: To get the most mileage out of your hard earned Extra attack, only use it after a successful flash guard.

Speaking of difficulties, there are 4 in this game: easy, normal, hard, nightmare. The differences between them are minor, most important one being that bosses use their full repertoire of moves on hard or nightmare. Due to the nonexistent replay value of this game, I strongly advise you to play on at least hard if you want to experience everything the game has to offer in one go. Nightmare simply isn’t more difficult enough beyond normal to warrant another playthrough, especially since the normal mobs don’t change, other than possibly being more tedious as it takes another hit to take them down. At least it doesn’t just turn battles into a lame grindfest like Crisis Core’s hard mode though. Your kill times across difficulties should be similar (besides easy, where you do so much damage, there’s no point in playing it at all).

Probably the most welcome addition of all is the introduction of a scaled experience system. Basically, you get a huge bonus to exp gain when you’re a lower level than the mob. What this means is that you can basically skip every normal encounter in the game if you want, and just get a few kills right before an obvious boss battle. Although it’s also entirely possible to just not grind at all (with dodging and flash guarding at your disposal, it’s not that difficult to never get hit once you get really good), this isn’t recommended. Level difference is the primary determinant of damage dealt and taken, which I feel is also a good thing. You can pretty much never spend a dime on armor thanks to this, and you can skimp on weapons for your backup characters too and they’ll still be able to do significant damage. To give you an idea of just how great this system is, lemme give you my example. I hate grinding, so I’m always underleveled. After the last boss utterly destroyed my level 51-55 party (the last boss is level 57-59), I grinded the first mob outside the last checkpoint for 5 minutes, and now all 7 of my party members are 58-59. Without bothering to grind for ultimate gear, I went back in and kicked the last boss’s ass.

As with other Ys games, boss battles are challenging and exciting. Unlike most RPGs where you pretty much just duke it out until they die, the high damage/hp nature of Ys bosses forces you to learn their patterns and formulate strategies accordingly. This is enhanced further with the introduction of party members and 3 damage types (of which each character may only use 1 of, besides Adol). A popular strategy is to use the archer to farm for SP, Adol to spam DPS skills, and the hammerer to use the extra gauge. This is just one of the many ways to take down a boss.

That all said, the gameplay isn’t perfect. While the early dungeon designs are decent enough, they quickly descend into tedium due to linearity, length, and forced backtracking to artificially extend the game. Although the below screenshot looks open ended and complex, there’s actually only one path. You just have to go in circles a lot. As you can see, the terrain isn’t exactly interesting to navigate either. Many dungeons fall into this pattern of thin halls followed by a big room with baddies, followed by another thin hall. Although tolerable early on when dungeons are only a few zones long anyways, it won’t be long before you find yourself lamenting every time you zone and find out the dungeon isn’t over yet.

Regardless of how it looks, there is actually only 1 perfectly linear path through this zone. Also, you can see that the aliasing problem is so severe, even this simple map has aliasing.


I’ve only played through it once on nightmare mode, which took 33 hours without grinding (though I spent quite a bit of time testing damage multipliers). Most report around 25 hours per playthrough. A healthy manageable length, and just about right for what this game has to offer. In the end, you feel just satisfied, perhaps a little relieved. In my experience, I did feel the game begins to drag by the last 2 dungeons, but I’ve always been allergic to monotony.

There are absolutely no extras at all. No boss rush, no uber optional bosses, no bonus dungeon, not even any sort of gallery or music player option. Because of this, there is absolutely no reason to keep this game once you’re done with it. It’s unlikely you’d want to see more dungeons and more normal mobs after the tedious final dungeons, and the only motivation to keep playing would be for the soundtrack and maybe to see some of the artwork again. You can google the latter, and you’re really just better off buying the soundtrack with the money you get back for this game.

Visual: 3.5
Audio: 8.5
Writing: 3.2
Gameplay: 8
Content: 5

VERDICT: 7.8 (not an average)
VERDICT: 8.5 (not an average)


Although moderately lengthy and generally great fun while it lasts, the absolute lack of extras gives you no reason to keep playing and tedious dungeon design deters you from playing it again. It’s a great leap forward for the series, enough to put it out of Zelda’s shadow and warrants a purchase from action RPG fans, but this is by no means a keeper. The abysmal writing will disappoint people who play RPGs for plot, and the graphics are quite an eyesore. None of that matters though, and I still love this game. It’s a gamer’s game that’s all about the playing, like the games of old. I originally grabbed it because Kingdom Hearts wasn’t out yet and I needed something to hold me off until Patapon 3 and the new God of War hits, but what I got was so much more. Flawed it may be, but trust me when I say this, this is a Ys game that you do not want to overlook.


Before I get the inevitable OMFG ONLY 7.8!??! DIS GAME NOT BELOW AVERAGE DESERVE 9 OR BETTER! comment, please keep in mind I use a 0-10 grading scale, not the industry standard 6-10.

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Video game movies always gets the worst of reputations, and often justifiably so. I must say I haven’t played this series (outside of a PS2 demo disc), so maybe that contributes to my surprise, but this movie honestly isn’t that bad. As surprisingly good as it is, it still isn’t what I’d call a good movie. However, if you were interested in seeing this for whatever reason, hesitate no more, because what this movie isn’t, is boring.

It does suffer from quite a lot of flaws though. The plot is told almost entirely through exposition from a miscast cast of actors, many of which have heavy British accents for some reason. The fact that it’s based on the premise of a knife that can turn back time kinda nerfs what’s at stake too, though that didn’t stop them from adding copious amounts of pointless melodrama, like Dragonball Z. The dialogue in general is overly simplistic, and the princess’s dialogue is mostly annoying whining. Disney one liners and cliches are also liberally littered throughout. All this gives this movie a very childish cheesy feel to it.

While the special effects look great, the action is a bit hard to follow due to massive inconsistencies, very quick cuts, and a shaky camera. However, I’ve certainly seen much worse, and while not impressive, the action is still quite entertaining to watch. Though simplistically told, the plot does still sport quite a few twists that’ll keep your interest in what happens next. The ending is rather disappointing, and being a Disney movie, quite predictable, but all in all, not enough to ruin the experience of the other hour and a half of the movie.

That all said and done, none of its flaws are that severe that it should impede on anyone’s enjoyment of the movie. It’s better than average, and certainly better than most of the crap that’s been coming out for the past year and a half.


While not good enough for me to recommend, I can say with certainty that you shouldn’t hesitate on watching this purely on the bad reputation of video game movies, because this is easily the 2nd best video game movie ever made (Silent Hill taking first, and not counting Advent Children). While it doesn’t follow the game exactly, it has more or less the same feel and roughly the same plot, unlike Resident Evil and Doom, which hardly had anything to do with anything. However, don’t expect to see anything new or impressionable from it. This isn’t Inception, but it still is entertainment, without a doubt.

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Alright, most people know the PC port for this game is very glitchy, especially on ATI’s cards. After some digging and tinkering around with settings, I believe I’ve found a solution for the graphical glitches at least, and figured I should share as I haven’t been able to find any decent solutions through google.

Go into the “bin” folder of your game (where the main .exe is), and look for a file called “enbseries.ini”. Scroll all the way to the bottom, and you’ll see a section named “FIX”, and probably notice that the shader limit is set to a pathetic 500, and vertex texture fetch is off. Increase the shader limit to 4096 and set vertex texture fetch to 1 so that your final settings look like this:


SH5 PC running at 1080p, high graphics quality on Win7 64-bit, ASUS DirectCu/TOP Radeon HD 5850.

I apologize for the crappy cell phone picture, but as you know, this port was handled by morons. There’s no ingame screenshot feature, and the usual FRAPS and print screen just record a black screen.

If I ever fix the audio and cutscene glitches too, I’ll let you guys know.


6/13/2010 UPDATE: Don’t know how I neglected to mention this before, but this fix was meant for already patched versions of the game. It’s a fan made patch by some russian people that uses modified shaders. It seems to work fine for Nvidia cards and very old Radeons, but takes a bit of tweaking to work right with newer Radeons, which is what this article is for.

Also, apparently they added a screenshot feature, and I’ve apparently pressed the screenshot button at some point and not noticed. Color seems to be off though. Anyways, here it is:

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Assassin’s Creed has become one of the highest acclaimed series of its kind, especially after the second console game came out. As such, the announcement of this game coming to the PSP was met with high expectations and anticipation. I must apologize again for taking other people’s screenshots, but this time, you wouldn’t be fooled to think bad of this game from the fact that I no longer have it.


  • Altair is very well rendered and smoothly animated
  • There’s a wide assortment of freerunning moves


  • Everything else in the game is fugly and bland
  • You only use 2 freerunning moves for 99.9% of the game: climb and jump
  • Forgettable soundtrack
  • Pointless plot
  • Possibly the single worst combat engine ever made
  • Maria (the heroine) is fugly in ways which they have not yet had need to invent words to describe
  • Severe lack of content
  • Retarded AI
  • Very short draw distance
  • A very high random spawn rate
  • Boring boss battles
  • Not very intuitive control scheme

As you can probably already tell, this isn’t a very good game. If you’re deciding whether or not this game is even worth the time to play for free, let me tell you first that the answer is no. Just no.

PLOT: 1/10

Nothing gets resolved by the end of the game. Nothing. Other than seeing how Altair meets Maria, which happens on the first level, absolutely nothing of importance happens. The dialogue consists mostly of telling you who to kill next for reasons you won’t care all that much about and have no relevancy to the main plot anyways. Small wonder why that didn’t get resolved.

AUDIO: 5/10

Some say the voice acting for this is an improvement over the console ones as Altair now has an accent instead of that generic tough guy voice. They also argue that since no one knows how people spoke back then, it’s more historically accurate than talking like a rugged american action hero. Well, I may be going out on a whim here, but I’m quite willing to bet my arm and leg that ARAB ASSASSINS BACK THEN DID NOT SPEAK WITH A RUSSIAN NERD ACCENT. And it still wouldn’t change the fact that he delivers all his lines completely flat, along with everyone else in the game. Though, that may just be the pointless dialogue at work.

The ambience and musical score is forgettable. At the very least, the sound effects are crisp, for those of you who love the artificial sounds of metal cleaving through flesh and meeting the bone. It’s probably the second best feature of this game.

The satisfying sound of metal on bone isn’t very well represented in this screenshot. The ugly non-Altair models, however, are.

VISUAL: 0/10

Yes, Altair looks awesome and you can even see his beard. Yes, his cloak flows in the wind. You might think that alone would earn it one point in this category, but it’s sadly counteracted by Maria’s model. It is so ugly that in fact, there isn’t a single screenshot of her available on the entire internet. A pretty big letdown considering it would’ve really drove home the point, but perhaps its absence is informative enough. You can find 2girls1cup and the lotus boob on the internet, but you cannot find a screenshot of Maria in AC:B. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, trust me, don’t look them up. I promise you that you’ll be sorry you did.

Seriously, if women in real life looked like that thing, the well off would pay to be castrated and straight would be a derogatory word.

The creators obviously disagree with me, since cutscenes use ingame graphics where they liberally zoom in on people’s faces when they talk so you can really enjoy in full detail the marvels of 16-bit textures upon a cube with slightly rounded edges.

Ok, so maybe it’s set in the Cthulhu realm and everyone is fugly. But what of the world itself? Surely if they didn’t spend time on the character models, they were spending it on creating a lush vibrant environment to freerun around in, right? I’ll tell you what they did, and what they did was find about 3 textures with quality that has been unseen since Wolfenstein 3D and modeled about 5 structures after cardboard boxes and proceeded to copy and paste them on top of each other, a la RPG Maker. The game spans 2 cities and several castles, and they all look exactly the same. It’s a level of blandness that could easily compete with that in Superman 64.

Welcome to the world of AC:Blandness.

Surprisingly, that isn’t the end of the graphical problems. Apparently a majority of the GPU’s power is used to render Altair’s cloak. Distant structures are hidden by a heavy fog, as you can see above. But that’s really a minor detail when compared to the fact that Altair can only see about 15 feet around him. Towns feel pretty empty, and that’s also a minor detail, as the draw distance causes major gameplay problems.


I’ll have to be honest here, I did enjoy AC:B for the first 5-10 minutes. There’s freerunning and you get to kill people. How can you possibly go wrong with that?

Griptonite obviously saw that statement as a challenge, because they’ve managed to do everything wrong. There’s nothing terribly wrong about stealth killing, other than the fact that the ai is retarded and will watch you slaughter their fellow guard, and then keep walking past as if nothing happened. Unfortunately, that’s about the best aspect about the gameplay.

The combat engine is like a detuned version of Blood Omen 2’s. That game came out in early 2002. They have actually managed to make a combat engine that’s more limited than something that was made over 7 years ago. You have 4 different weapons, but 1 of them doesn’t work in combat, another has more recovery than hitstun and they hit you right back for more damage afterwards. That leaves the sword and throwing knives. The throwing knives are your cheap limited 1 hit kill projectile attack, so you’re going to be using the sword almost exclusively. You have a tackle, but the ai counters it 100% of the time, INCLUDING WHEN THEY HAVEN’T SPOTTED YOU YET. Right, so that’s useless.

You’re left with the option of attacking, dodging, or countering. There’s really no point in dodging (except against the final boss), so it’s just attack or counter for 99.9% of the game. Except bad guys attack once every 30 seconds, so you mash on attack for about 98% of the time you’re in combat. Fortunately, there’s a gameplay feature (or glitch) where you actually deal full damage with your attacks even if they block it with a giant shield. On the plus side, this makes things go a lot quicker. Unfortunately, it degrades combat to mashing attack a lot, and sometimes pressing counter until everything dies.

There are different mobs, but they all behave and are dispatched of in the same way, including every boss until the last. Bosses attack slightly more often and don’t suffer from hitstun. That’s about the only difference. The last boss has a lot of uncounterable attacks, so that’s the only time you’ll touch the dodge button. The only exciting thing to know about boss battles is that they won’t randomly respawn. Sadly, that doesn’t apply to regular battles. The way the game deals with the poor draw distance is to have entities randomly spawn anywhere within a 15 feet radius of Altair, including right in front of his face. This happens every 5 seconds or so. So basically, by the time you managed to kill one guy, another 1-3 have already spawned and are up your ass.

That won’t bother you though, because fortunately, you can use the draw distance to your advantage to “stealth” past all normal guards. You do this simply by running in a straight line at full speed. That’s it. They will have been deleted from existance by the game’s draw distance limit long before they can realize you’re an assassin and shout out to the rest of his guard buddies. Funny how they’d think you’re an assassin just because you’re running, but don’t suspect a thing when you pounce someone they were talking to in the back and stick a knife in it.

Farewell, fugly world. Me and my cloak are too beautiful to exist within the likes of thee.

Of course, combat and stealth are only 2/3 of what AC is about. This series was also highly acclaimed for the freerunning. Sadly, they managed to screw that up too. Altair has a huge variety of ways to get around, including wall jumps, swinging, backflips, etc. Sadly, the level designer has about as much imagination as a gnat, and you’ll only use his ability to climb and jump for pretty much the whole game. There’s one optional Limassol coin that requires you to backflip off a climbhold, about 2 instances where you can swing from a bar, and not a single spot in the entire game where wall jumping gets you anywhere. Every zone in the game is designed this way. You can’t even freerun for the fun of it because any route that goes anywhere is only accessable by either climbing or jumping.

Content, Replayability, Extras: 0/10

Play the first 5 minutes. Repeat until the last boss. That’s the entire game in a nutshell. Mercifully, including all sidequests (besides the hidden Limassol coins), the game is only about 4 hours long. I’ve heard one report of a playthrough lasting 16 hours. Clearly, he didn’t notice that blocked attacks still deal full damage and countered everyone to death. That’s 11 hours of staring at the screen waiting for something to happen. You really literally are better off watching paint dry. At least paint won’t cost you $40 a pop.

Hunting for coins might sound like good fun for those treasure hunting fans out there, me included. Sadly, they also suffer from the draw distance limit, and you can only see a coin if it’s within 15 feet of you. As you might be able to tell from the screenshots, the areas are quite large. Scouring the city of blandness 30 feet at a time is tedious and boring. It also means an faq can’t help you because every part of the city looks exactly the same as every other part.

There’s also an upgrade system but none of it does anything significant besides increasing your max hp and maximum number of throwing knives.

There’s also some achievements you can do. I think they might unlock some stuff in the PS3 AC2 but I’m not sure. In any case, you get nothing from this game for completing them, and most of them are simply get all coins in X area. There’s also one for getting 100 counter kills. You’ll have plenty of fun with that one.

Plot: 1
Audio: 5
Visual: 0
Gameplay: 3
Content: 0

Verdict: 3/10 (not an average)
Verdict: 6 (not an average)

You’d probably have expected a lower score according to my grading scale, but most of the problems in this game can be bypassed, so it isn’t quite agonizing to play through. The real problem is that you’d have bypassed pretty much the whole game and not a single moment of it would’ve felt entertaining. You’d be better off not playing the game at all, unless you have a serious fetish for watching Altair and his flowing cloak on the go. You’d probably enjoy reading this review more than you would playing the actual game. It’s like a Steven Seagal movie really. Quite a lot of fun to make fun of, not terribly fun to actually watch.

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