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RED DEAD REDEMPTION

July 1, 2010 2 comments

 

9.5 / 10

It’s difficult to argue the fact that mass excitement surrounds almost every release from Rockstar Games. While still likely basking in praise from the popular Grand Theft Auto series, Rockstar looks to have a promising 2010. The announcement of a new PS3 exclusive IP currently dubbed “Agent”  looks to be expected sometime this year, as well as a highly anticipated “L.A. Noire” hitting shelves this fall. But for the time being it seems the majority of gamers are all talking about the same thing: Red Dead Redemption.

Red Dead Redemption comes as a creative successor to “Red Dead Revolver.” While Revolver overall received little acclaim from the gaming community, it served as a bridge to one of the best games of 2010 (thus far). Redemption is NOT a sequel; it seems our adventures with Red Harlow have been abandoned completely and we now occupy a familiar looking gun by the name of John Marston. While the game keeps track of various aspects of your decisions throughout the game, fame and heroism are attained through doing good deeds. Whether you are helping various strangers along the way or simply continuing on throughout your story every action, negative or positive, will affect the way people in the game respond to you.

Whether your accepting a dual from a stranger in a saloon, or hunting coyotes  for some extra cash, Red Dead Redemption provides you with an overhwhelmingly expansive and truly breathtaking environment to help unfold your story. And the environments really are breathtaking: you may even find yourself just sitting idle on your horse and staring at the night sky because it looks THAT DAMN GOOD. The game doesn’t necessarily encourage hunting but be sure that you do it often; it’s an easy way to build your bankroll and unlock/purchase a variety of helpful necessities from various shops, gunsmiths, and doctors, including: faster horses, rifles/pistols, survival maps, medicine, and a plethora of outfits that become specifically useful when dealing with certain parts of the game.

The mini games are only a tiny fraction of your Red Dead Redemption experience, but they can certainly prove to be a hell of a lot of fun. Between Poker, Blackjack, Liars Dice, Horseshoes, and Five Finger Fillet, you can truly find yourself getting sidetracked peculiarly often. Some take time to get the hang of; five-finger fillet and liars dice, but when you do you’ll find yourself spending more time on these mini games then developers may have originally intended.

Controls take very little getting used to. Most gamers familiar with any kind of shooters will jump right into Redemption no problem. Of course the famous “Dead Eye” feature, staple of the Red Dead series is back, and as awesome as ever. For those unfamiliar with Dead Eye, your meter allows you to slowdown time and mark your targets; allowing you to take out multiple baddies at once. Be mindful of your meter when using it, it runs out fairly quickly and takes some time to restore. Of course, visits to the shop allow purchase of various items that will instantly restore your meter, so be sure to pick flowers, hunt, and help strangers to maintain a steady cash flow for such upgrades/items.

Online Multiplayer adds a high level of replay value to Redemption. After completing Single Player you can now build your online reputation and apply your skills against the rest of the world and see exactly how you measure up. I’d recommend beating single player first and having a good sense of comfortability with controls and such before diving into multiplayer. While it’s fun there’s a certain level of annoyance in that everyone seems to have the same idea: Kill Everyone. If you’ve coordinated a party with friends than that’s really where you’ll get the most out of online, but running around on your own with no one on your side will likely lead you to repeated deaths and a whole heap of frustration.

With all the anticipation surrounding their future 2010 releases, Rockstar has proven yet again that they make quality, entertaining, kick ass games. Breathtaking environments, obnoxiously addicting mini games, and a gaming experience unmatched by any other of its genre, Red Dead Redemption undoubtedly inserts itself as a potential 2010 Game of the Year recipient.

JUST CAUSE 2

June 9, 2010 2 comments

7 / 10

Just Cause 2 isn’t a game that should be on the top of your list of games to play. At the same time it shouldn’t be on the bottom. If you’re concerned about playing the original first my advice to you is to curb your curiosity entirely; it’s a terrible game. Certainly comparable to the mixed reception of Assassins Creed: tedious and unexciting. As for 2 we see some intriguing improvements, but a continuing lack of depth in what could have been an unbelievably expansive open world sandbox game.

Getting around in Just Cause 2 is a hell of a lot of fun. The convenience of releasing your parachute at any time adds to the entertaining part of traveling, coupled with the newly introduced grappling hook. As you become more familiar with the grappling hook you’ll quickly and creatively incorporate it into the way you get around, as well as in the way you take out various enemies throughout the game. If you like causing destruction and chaos this is definitely the game for you, but do prepare yourself for a game that gets very old, very fast.

Chaos is the key to furthering the story and unlocking objective missions in Just Cause 2, and it gets pretty repetitive. If you are one of those people who thought Assassin’s Creed pickpocketing missions were tedious, Just Cause 2 redefines the term. Aside from the occasional race challenges, which bear near meaningless rewards and often involve airplanes with some of the worst handling and controls you may ever encounter, the game is surprisingly limited for an open world game. If you’re not discovering a civilization, then you’re trying effortlessly to blow one up, one fuel station or army base at a time. While there are sidemissions, like joining a military faction, the objectives and missions are just as, if not more lackluster and unexciting. The run and gun system is entertaining but often annoying as there is no way to take cover. In that sense, when you are introduced to a room of baddies, your only choice is to hope for the best and pray your rambo-esque attack is enough to keep you alive. It’s almost laughable the lack of stealth this game provides you with, given the nature of the game. It would be so much easier if you could sneak attack a few guys first before throwing yourself into the open; especially considering the aforementioned inconsistency and unexpected results of run and gunning.

This whole seek and destroy concept is fun, but would of course be more effective in smaller doses. What this game forgets to do is to take and tweak aspects of other open-world games to help create a more involving and still original gaming experience. If you do decide to play it you’ll likely find yourself, more often than not, rattling off to yourself things you COULD be doing that developers neglected to include.