Rockstar are clearly experts at creating open world video games. I can’t imagine a Western themed open world game being any better than this. The environmental detail was extremely well done and I felt like I really was in that particular time period. The scope of the world was huge and I felt like there was always something new to experience or discover. The main character, John Marston, was a very likeable character and had plenty of humorous moments as well. The storyline was intriguing and there was plenty of variety in the missions you had to complete. I felt like most of the characters you interacted with throughout the story were unique and had great voice actors that accurately portrayed the setting and time period. The horseback mechanics and overall combat system was fantastic in my opinion. I can’t wait to go back and explore this game more - as well as try out the Undead Nightmare downloadable content.
UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE’S DECEPTION - February 13th, 2014
The Uncharted series is one of the best of last generation. Naughty Dog is by far one of the best game developers that mixes exciting and cinematic gameplay with excellent storytelling. I lost track of the number of times my mouth just dropped open in awe at how awesome this game really is. When a game consumes all the free time you have and you can’t stop thinking about it, you know the developers did something special. The outstanding motion capture and voice recordings that the actors did over the past three games really made these characters feel real. When a game makes you care about the characters and develop an emotional connection to them - that’s what I think is special. Uncharted is more than just mind blowing action and explosions. It’s also got heart - and that’s what drove me forward through the series and made me that much more immersed in the story. I’m beyond excited about Uncharted 4.
UNCHARTED 2: AMONG THIEVES - February 6th, 2014
It’s obvious that the Naughty Dog team are extremely talented at what they do. Everything about this sequel surpasses the original by a long shot. Naughty Dog expertly crafted this game to make sure you’re fully immersed and engaged in what’s happening at all times - there’s not a dull moment. The cinematics and gameplay blur together in a way that make for an extremely fun and addictive adventure. It’d be impossible for me to find any flaws with this game. The gameplay is incredibly polished and most importantly - fun. The way you interact with the environments is very natural and fluid. The motion capture and voice acting is blockbuster film quality. The characters are all unique and memorable in their own ways. The witty humor made me laugh out loud numerous times. The art direction, environments, and graphics make you stop and stare. Basically, much like with The Last of Us, Naughty Dog has created what I consider to be a perfect video game experience.
UNCHARTED: DRAKE’S FORTUNE - February 1st, 2014
It’s hard to believe I’m 7 years late to this series. After playing through The Last of Us, it was impossible to not want to play through the other games Naughty Dog has made. This first game in the Uncharted series might be 7 years old now - but I couldn’t tell. Naughty Dog are extremely good at creating epic adventures that are not only fun, but also tell a good story. Nolan North, Emily Rose, and Richard McGonagle give great performances that keep you invested in the story. Something I wasn’t really expecting (after playing The Last of Us) was how funny this was at times - thanks mostly to Nolan North and his delivery of Nathan Drake’s lines. I’m a huge fan of Tomb Raider, so that made this game even more appealing to me. Everything that the Naughty Dog team created came together in a way that made this a memorable and very polished experience for me. During its time of release, I would imagine adventure games couldn’t get much better than this on the Playstation 3.
HEAVY RAIN - January 26th, 2014
I think Quantic Dream does an amazing job of creating a genre that is unique to the industry. I loved Beyond: Two Souls, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this as well. The ability of the developers to fuse cinematic adventure and interactivity by the player is flawless. I actually really enjoyed how they incorporated the quick time events because it makes you that much more immersed into the game and what the characters are going through. I can’t remember the last time I played a game where I was so conflicted with the choices I had to make as a character. At one point, I had to pause the game and actually sit and think for a while about what I wanted to do. Much like Beyond: Two Souls, Quantic Dream created a memorable experience with Heavy Rain that consisted of interesting and empathetic characters with great voice actors, amazing music that really draws you in, and an intriguing and original story that won’t soon be forgotten.
BEYOND: TWO SOULS - January 16th, 2014
Beyond: Two Souls is the perfect blend of cinematic adventure and interactive storytelling. I loved it from the very beginning all the way to the thrilling end. I always love coming across something that is unique. Although the actual gameplay may be limited, it is always engaging and a very original concept. The lack of gameplay is more than made up for in the excellent storytelling and emotionally charged journey through Jodie’s life. I’m realizing more and more with every game I play that voice acting has a huge impact on the quality of the story and authenticity of the characters. Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe gave great performances that really made the characters come alive with a wide variety of emotions. I really liked that you always had to be on your toes to make split second decisions that could have drastic consequences. Beyond: Two Souls was basically like watching a dramatic and thrilling movie about a young girls life - except you get to make the decisions and decide how it ultimately plays out. I loved it and the experience will definitely stick with me. I can’t wait to play Quantic Dreams next game.
THE LAST OF US - January 9th, 2014
After watching the credits roll, I can say with certainty that The Last of Us is the perfect video game. The journey that you have with these two characters is an experience that is impossible to be forgotten. Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson gave the best performances I’ve heard in a game by a long shot. The combination of incredible voice acting and motion capture made it impossible to not become emotionally invested in these two characters and their story. I would be at work just wishing time would fly by so I could get home and continue playing through this. Naughty Dog clearly did something very right. Everything about The Last of Us was top notch. The writing and storyline was brilliant. The sound was incredible on the Pulse Elite headphones. The beautiful art direction and variety of environments fully immersed you. The gameplay really made you feel like every single bullet counted and you were fighting for your survival at every encounter. Naughty Dog has set the bar very high with The Last of Us, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
SCRATCHES - December 28th, 2013
Scratches left me with mixed feelings overall. The story and exploration aspect of the game was very intriguing to me. The overall atmosphere of the game was very unsettling and there was a few times where I was genuinely terrified. The downside to Scratches was that you have to be an extremely patient and thorough gamer to complete it. In order to progress in the game, you’re required to find and click every little object there is to click - and the house is by no means tiny. Therefore, it became very frustrating because there was numerous times where I had no idea what to do next and was forced to look up the walkthrough. I’ve always really hated looking up walkthroughs for games - so that took away from the experience for me. Overall, it was definitely a creepy and interesting adventure, but don’t expect to get through it without some frustration and help.
GONE HOME - December 15th, 2013
When a game makes you feel something deep down in your chest, you know it’s more than just a game - it’s a work of art. That’s exactly what Gone Home is. I like to think of video games as an interactive version of reading a book - instead of reading about a character in a story, you are that character. Gone Home is interactive storytelling at its best. The story is woven together in a brilliant way that packs an emotional punch of an ending that has to be experienced by anyone that calls themselves a gamer. The Fullbright Company has crafted a game that makes me proud to be a part of the experiences video games create - and not on the outside with the mindset that video games are just for kids and a pointless waste of time. I look forward to whatever these developers do next.
F.E.A.R. 3 - December 12th, 2013
When I first started F.E.A.R. 3, my initial reaction was that I was going to hate it. First of all, it was being developed by Day 1 Studios and not Monolith - so I already had a preconceived notion that it was going to be bad. Nothing against Day 1 Studios - I was just worried that a new developer wouldn’t stay true to the roots of what made the first two so great. In my opinion, F.E.A.R. 3 definitely strayed from what Monolith did with their first two F.E.A.R. games - but here’s the interesting part: I still really liked it. This was one of those games where I started it and was worried, but then finished it and realized how fun it really was. It doesn’t matter that Day 1 Studios did something a little different than Monolith - the game was still fun and kept me interested all the way to the end. I think that might be a key difference between this F.E.A.R. and the previous ones. F.E.A.R. 3 definitely had its creepy moments here and there, but for the most part it was just fun to play and go along for the ride. F.E.A.R. and F.E.A.R. 2 were definitely fun to play, but for the most part just wanted to scare the living crap out of you at every chance they got. I think the fun gameplay and interesting storyline of F.E.A.R. 3 make up for its lack of truly frightening sequences. I played through the entire F.E.A.R. series one after the other and it was definitely a fun - and bone chilling - time. Talk about a truly original and interesting series. I’m sure I’ll go back and play through F.E.A.R. 3 cooperatively at some point. Great game - and a really memorable franchise.