TheXMiz Reviews: Knack, Puppeteer, SM3DW, Killer Is Dead, Outlast, & TR:DE (ps4)
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Posted 12 February 2014 - 04:40 PM
TheXMiz Game Reviews:
I had originally purchased Knack as one of my day one games for the PS4, but after seeing how widely panned it was, I decided to return it and buy it at a later date for cheaper (I ended up getting it on here for $30). I normally don't let reviews swing me from buying a game, but after seeing it get critically panned more or less unanimously, I was definitely hesitant. I was going to skip this game completely, but I figured it's a PS4 exclusive, and being a launch game, I knew that if I didn't play it now, I never would. Unfortunately, even after getting $28 back for Knack when I was done, I still felt that I spent too much money on it...
Visually, Knack definitely looks good. The multiple parts that make up Knack look very cool when they're swirling about it or shattering around the stage after you take a hit. However, it shouldn't be very hard to get good graphics when your entire game takes place down ONE PATH. Seriously. This game is the dictionary definition of linear. Any "secret" you might find will require breaking down a wall or something, and this game literally doesn't even have a dead-end path or something to at least make it FEEL somewhat open.
Also, Knack's controls are insanely bare-boned. You have 3 special moves that require building a meter up, but besides that, you have attack, your one combo (attack, attack, attack), jump/attack, or jump/jump/attack....and THATS IT. They don't even attempt to flesh out the fighting, and it gets old quickly. The last thing I will touch on is the difficulty. I didn't find this game too hard, but it definitely has an "old school platformer" feel to it. You die in 1-3 hits, and so do your enemies. This may or may not be a big deal, but to me this just made certain rooms annoying, and others an absolute cakewalk.
I could see how a second playthrough might be more fun, as you unlock different costumes/versions of Knack. In the end, I really can't recommend this game to anyone unless you can get it for under 30 and have nothing else to play.
Puppeteer is a charming platformer that probably flew under the radar for most people. The side-scroller features Kutaro, a little puppet who had his head stolen by the Moon Bear King. Therefore, using a magical pair of scissors called The Calibrus, and a few other techniques, Kutaro must make his way through The MBK's henchmen and end his reign of terror and get the children their souls back, or something like that.
This game has a very cool art style/overall feel to it. The game oozes charm, and plays out like an actual play. There are "set changes", a narrator, and audience interactions (They may cheer when you kill a boss, gasp when you get hurt, etc). Throughout the game, you can have 3 heads, which count as lives. When you get hit, your head will roll away and you'll have a few seconds to pick it up before it disappears (a la Sonic and his rings).
Puppeteer is by no means an amazing game, but it really doesn't have anything wrong with it. It controls well, doesn't overstay its welcome, and adds new equipment/moves and actually integrates them into the levels/boss fights. The newest, and most obvious, mechanic is the use of the Calibrus to cut through enemies or the environment. I really enjoyed this mechanic, especially during the hectic "string-cutting" sections. I also appreciated that they changed up what you were actually cutting through. For example,. one level you're chopping through smoke clouds, the next, it's playing cards. You also unlock a hookshot, bombs, and a slam ability to vary up the combat.
Between unique gameplay, fun levels, and well designed boss fights, I would definitely recommend Puppeteer, especially to those with a penchant for side-scrolling platformers. While it won't be the game that makes your GOTY discussion, it is certainly worth a look.
Super Mario 3D World
Since we're talking about platformers...might as well bring up the BEST one I've played in a couple of years. Rayman Origins finally has some competition, as SM3DW was absolutely fantastic. I loved 3D Land, and I was glad to see they were able to expand on the concepts and ideas from that. It still has the overall feel of 3D Land, using levels that look like they're out of Mario 64/Sunshine/Galaxy, but still having the end goal to get the flagpole.
The levels are all varied, and never get boring. The new power-ups keep the game from getting stale, especially the Cat-Suit. I loved that damn thing. Oh, and the final boss fight? BEST IN A MARIO GAME, EVER. But once you take out Bowser you think you're probably about to be treated to a 9th and final world, that maybe you can unlock new levels by grabbing all the stars/flagpoles/stamps? NOPE. That doesn't come till WAY later.
When you beat Bowser (Or should I say, MEOWSER), You are sent to Star World. Beat that? You get Mushroom World. Beat that? You get Flower World. It is only then, after 11 worlds of awesome levels, that you are given the task of getting all of the aforementioned collectables to open up Champion's Road. This level is insanely hard, especially if you're not using Rosalina (who makes her debut as a playable character in Star World), but the satisfaction when you beat it is oh so sweet.
All in all, this is easily the best multiplayer Mario game I've ever played, and it deserves to at least be mentioned with the single player 3D games (Galaxy, etc). One of the best couch-co-op games out, and while a bit more difficult with friends, it is infinitely more fun. I beat this game with two of my buddies, and we all had a blast. Especially trying to ground-pound each other to steal that crown!
In closing, the Wii U has without a doubt been a letdown, and it is in the awkward position of finally being as powerful as the ps3 and 360, but only when the two next-gen consoles are out. However, don't let that sway you, SM3DW is a MUST BUY if you have a Wii-U, and IMO, a good enough game to justify buying one now (You know you're going to want one when Smash Bros comes out anyhow...)
Killer Is Dead
My favorite kind of games are hack and slash, but I like it when the games actually have a system to master, and can't be beat by just button mashing. Bayonetta, the DMCs, and GOWs are some of my favorite games, and I'll usually pick up any hack and slash game that looks decent. Killer Is Dead certainly nailed the style, and it has a few aspects that I absolutely loved, but its button-mashing moves, weird as hell side missions, and very bad "gun-play" make this game pretty tough to recommend.
In terms of gameplay, there were definitely a few things I loved. As I said, the style of the game is very cool, especially when your guy is in "free-flow" mode. When you rack up a big combo, you can hit one of the face buttons at the end to perform a killing finisher that will produce a certain collectable depending on the button you press. Also, I loved that if you timed a dodge perfectly, your character would go into almost a "blade mode", when you would then mash square and hack up your enemy. Lastly, I was a big fan of the Insta-Kills, which can be used if you stun an enemy and have enough "Blood" built up.
However, using Mondo's left arm as a gun felt REALLY shitty, and the camera almost always seemed to get wonky. Also, the gun didn't feel powerful at all, which I thought was a big mistake. I also didn't like the fact that you couldn't jump, which I felt restricted combos pretty badly. Lastly, as I mentioned before, one could easily get through this game by just mashing square and occasionally dodging. No mastery or understanding of the battle system is required.
I have no problem with Suda 51, and got this game fully expecting it to be weird/over the top, and it certainly was. However, the Gigolo Side Missions were on a whole different level. I am a 24 year old guy, and I have no problem with over the top humor/depictions, whether it be sexual in nature or not. However, these missions just made me feel uncomfortable. "Distract this girl with a present then glance at her tits and thighs! Good! Shes super horny now! Go have sex with her!" ....Yeah..... Needless to say, I did one of these, and didn't go back. I know Japan has way different views on gender equality and whatnot, and I'm not saying that as a way to justify this, but these missions are STRANGE AS . Simple as that. Thankfully (to my knowledge), they really aren't that important to the story and I was able to beat the game without doing them.
While the game will have flashes of greatness, it is too mediocre in the end to be anything more than another forgotten game. While some bosses/levels are solid, others made me completely question the level design and why the developers would think this was a good idea (Im looking at you, stupid Samurai level.)
Let me start off by saying that Outlast isn't exactly my kind of game. You have no offensive abilities, and have to either run or hide to get through the game. Even if you snuck RIGHT behind an enemy who has no idea you're there, you can't do anything to them. I was a tad hesitant about this, but I figured for free, why not?
For the game that it is, the whole "be a little bitch" technique actually works well and makes sense. You're an investigative journalist going to an insane asylum to figure out what's really going on there and stop corrupt people from benefitting. You are armed with only your wits and a video camera. The VC can be out all the time, but in certain sections it will require you to use night vision. This drains batteries, and definitely creates a sense of tension. I never ran out of batteries, but I got close a couple times. I can only imagine how brutal this game would be in complete darkness, so conserving your power is definitely important.
This game is definitely pretty creepy, especially when youre sneaking around in the dark, hearing footsteps and grunting and not being exactly sure where they're coming from. It's also equally frightening when you are spotted, and have to complete your objectives while running full speed, having to pull of some Adrian-Peterson-esque jukes to get around your attackers.
The game is relatively short, but I don't think that's a bad thing. It was long enough for me to enjoy my time with it, but never felt like it was dragging, or that it ended too abruptly. The ending is pretty wild, although I wasn't too pleased with the final area being completely illuminated. All in all, I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys survival horror, or who is looking for a unique game to play, as it is pretty difficult to compare it to any other titles (especially on next gen consoles.)
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (ps4)
During my first playthrough of Tomb Raider on ps3, not once did I think , or expect, that this game needed/would get a graphic overhaul for next gen. I thought this game looked and played great, and I was completely content with it. It was easily one of my favorite games of 2013. However, when I heard about the Definitive Edition releasing at $60, I wasn't going to buy it due to the fact that it was literally just the graphics that had changed. However, my friend had never played the current gen one and offered to split it, so I figured for $30 I could go on another romp with Miss Croft.
Even though the graphics are really the only thing that was changed, they made a big difference. Any onlooker would easily recognize this game as next gen, from Lara's character model to the gorgeous locations you visit throughout the game. This is easily one of the best looking games on the market right now. While the other changes are somewhat "gimmicky", I actually enjoyed them a lot. The light bar on the Dualshock 4 glows red and yellow when you have a torch equipped, and flashes white each time you fire a gun. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a cheesy smile on my face each time my room was lighting up white as I was spraying a room with gunfire.
Im not going to divulge too much into the actual gameplay, but for those who never played TR, the fantastic gunplay, worthwhile exploration, awesome/fluid platforming, and strong story/characterizations are all there. While I still can't condone spending 60 on it if you have already played the other one, this should be a no-brainer for anyone who hasnt played it, and is one of, if not THE, best games on next-gen right now.
Thanks for reading! Again, if I get some feedback I'll do another down the road.