Posts Tagged ‘game review’

Heavy Rain review

Having finally run out of survival horror games to review, I thought I’d go ahead and review a game that is definitely worth bringing to gamers’ attention. Heavy Rain is one of the most talked about titles for the PS3, and there’s a definite reason for that. Be warned: this review will contain some spoilers.

One of the things you’ll commonly hear about this game is that it starts off very slowly. This is true, and the slow beginning can even take up to a couple of hours. However, this is necessary to both introduce the story of the main characters (you’ll switch between four main characters throughout the game and your goal is to keep them all alive) and to get you used to the controls, which are quite unique.

This game uses button press combos throughout. If you’re into nerve wracking, fast-paced, and sometimes demanding requests for responses from you, this is the game that’s perfect for you. If you’re not good at button press combos, you should probably skip this game. In many scenarios, if you miss even one button command, the character may die. Once one of the main characters dies, they’re out of the story for the rest of the game. Trust me, you will grow attached to all four characters and want them to stick around for the whole game so that you can follow their stories and also have them interact with each other.

Let’s get into the story part of it. The first of the main characters, Ethan, begins the game as a happy, family man. A tragic accident leads to the death of his son Jason, and also puts Ethan into a coma for six months. His wife blames him for their son’s death, and she leaves him. Ethan has another son, Shaun, who becomes a victim of kidnapping by the Origami Killer…a man who kidnaps children and puts their father through a series of trials to force them to prove that they are a good father. The victims are kept in caged tank that has rain water draining into it. This is where the game’s title comes in. If a father can complete the killer’s trials before the rain water accumulates enough to drown their child, they are happily reunited. (It pours rain almost constantly throughout the game). Upon beginning this game, no father has successfully completed all of the trials and been reunited with their child. So, as Ethan, a lot of your work will be completing these awful trials which include driving against traffic on a highway, crawling through a pipe maze that has glass shards all over the bottom of it, cutting off the last section of one of your fingers, navigating through electrical charges, and killing someone. As Ethan, you can either complete or refuse these trials, but depending on which ones you refuse to complete, you may not be able to save Shaun.

The other main characters are Shelby, a private investigator, Madison, a journalist, and Jayden, a new cop. All of these characters are interested in the case of the Origami Killer for one reason or another, and because of this they all end up interacting at various points throughout the game, which is one of the most enjoyable parts of it.

This game starts off bright and sunny and happy, but (relatively) quickly begins to get darker and more and more depressing. Rain starts pouring almost constantly, and sadder and sadder stories keep unfolding. This game is not for those who are faint at heart.

The story and control scheme of this game are brilliant and enough to make me recommend it to anyone. However, the voice acting is some of the worst you’ll come across in today’s era of gaming. This could be due to the fact that there is so much voice acting required by this game. Throughout play, you can press a button that corresponds to a topic the main character is currently thinking about, and hear a brief statement of their thoughts. This can aid you in your journey, or just be amusing depending on the scenario.

Heavy Rain‘s graphics are good, but not as remarkable as other games out there.

All in all, this game is excellent, and has one of the strongest stories and most interesting control schemes that I’ve seen in a long time. If you have the stomach for it, and you’re not too much of a sap, you shouldn’t miss this game.

Check out IGN’s highly favorable review of this game.

Haunting Ground review

Let me start off by saying that Haunting Ground is proof that the failed formula application in Clock Tower 3 can actually be molded to fit into a fun game.

Haunting Ground (for PS2) was made by Capcom after CT3 was already on the market. As you may have guessed, there are a few Resident Evil-esque elements that make an appearance in the game (absurd puzzles, sound effects, etc.), but not an overwhelming amount.

You play as Fiona, a young blonde who stumbles, screams, and faints quite a bit, but honestly not too much that it’s to the point of being annoying. She can defend herself to an extent through kicking or pushing, and when at full stamina, this girl can RUN.

One of the biggest problems with CT3 was that enemies chased after you much too often, leaving barely any time for exploration or the completing of tasks. HG nicely fixes this problem, however only with half of the enemies, not all of them. There are five main enemies that come after you, and two of them seem to chase after you the right amount, two of them much too commonly, and the last enemy is not around for very long at all to factor into this equation.

This game is quite a bit scarier than CT3. The enemies are very well done, especially the second crazy antagonist, a robotic woman named Daniella, who was created imperfectly and is jealous of Fiona for being flesh and blood. She runs around laughing maniacally, and, quite frankly, her laugh is enough to make anyone’s hair stand on end. The story also adds to the fear factor well.

The voice acting, for once, is very well done! I was really impressed with ALL of the actors. This fact alone makes me want to boost my rating of the game. You just don’t see this kind of voice talent in the survival horror industry. Good job, Capcom!

Another great thing about HG is the addition of a partner for the protagonist, a dog named Hewie. Fiona befriends Hewie while stumbling through the creepy castle, and over time she is able to train him to attack enemies and help her solve puzzles. This makes the game more fun, and more worthy of its longer play time.

I would recommend this game to anyone who’s not easily freaked out, and doesn’t mind some frustration while having to stray from their quest from time to time to evade enemies. If you’re into the style of evading rather than fighting with weapons, HG is the title that does it best.

Check out Chris’s review of this game here.

Fatal Frame review

Keeping with the survival horror game review theme, I decided to play and review Fatal Frame for PS2 this weekend.

This game turned out to be a pleasant surprise. After becoming completely skeptical of game recommendations from Silent Hill fans (see: Clock Tower 3 review), I honestly was not expecting a lot from this one. I was glad to be proven wrong.

Fatal Frame took me about 4 and a half hours to complete. The story was interesting enough to keep me hooked. The protagonist, Miku, goes off to a mansion to search for her older brother, who recently disappeared during a trip there. Miku very quickly discovers that the mansion is haunted, and she has to help the trapped souls be set free.  This is where the combat comes in.

The combat system is what sets Fatal Frame apart from all other horror titles. Miku’s weapon is not a gun or a blunt object, but an antique camera. Careful timing of a photograph through a charged camera lens damages a ghost, and enough of these photographs defeats the ghost. Some ghosts are weaker and you battle them only once, while others are stronger and make multiple appearances, and therefore you battle them a few times. The ammo in the game is various types of film, some of which are more powerful than others. This system is unique and refreshing and provides quite enjoyable boss battles, however sometimes battle becomes tedious when there are too many fights in a row.

The Japanese atmosphere is also really enjoyable. I enjoyed the various cultural symbols, such as the Japanese instruments, dolls, etc.

The graphics in the game are impressive when it comes to scenery, but fall very short when it comes to character models. The people and ghosts are not at all realistic looking, which is somewhat disappointing.

The music and sound effects in the game are mostly well done, but the voice acting is (yet again) terrible. Miku, her brother, and the ghosts speak just about as agonizingly slowly as they walk, and the script lacks inflection, to the point of causing me to roll my eyes and groan while I waited for a character to finish a simple sentence.

The controls are workable, but there are a few flaws. While walking, Miku moves painfully slowly. The “run” mode is more of a slow jog. Also, there is a strange tendency for Miku to get briefly stuck on her surroundings as she moves past something, which is weird and frustrating. Whenever the camera angle changes, so does the direction that one needs to press the control stick to move forward. This can be extremely frustrating when coming out of a door, and Miku suddenly does an about face and begins walking out of the room again.

The puzzles in the game are fairly simple to complete, but they differ from the traditional Resident Evil style of puzzles, which is also a nice change.

Fatal Frame is definitely a one time play in my opinion, but its originality makes it stand out from the many other survival horror series out there today. The story may not be the best in the world, but the level design and combat system are not to be missed. I look forward to trying the other Fatal Frame games, and hope that they have fixed some of the original’s problems.

Be sure to check out Chris’s review of this game!

Sega Saturn’s D review

I was inspired by Chris’s Survival Horror Quest, and the whole idea of playing a ton of survival horror games and then posting reviews of them. While I’m not going to be able to play nearly as many as he has (time and money constraints), I like the idea of continuing with my recent theme of reviewing games from a specific genre.

Today I’d like to talk about the game D for Sega Saturn, which was released in 1996. Note the year. 1996 is the year that introduced us to the original Resident Evil on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. That in mind, I will begin my review of this game.

D‘s storyline takes place in real time, which allows you only two hours to complete the game. Having finished the game in just over one hour, I couldn’t tell you what happens if you fail to satisfy that, other than it’s a Game Over.

What I immediately noticed upon beginning the game was the control scheme. When trying to move the protagonist, Laura, you must first angle her in the direction you want to go, and then press forward on the control pad. Laura will walk a set number of steps in that direction, and then stop again. This sort of movement takes a while to get used to, and it can be frustrating at certain times when the angle doesn’t seem quite right to move you where you want to go. I found myself surprised at certain points when I’d move in a direction that seemed off, but it took me to the place I needed to go. Once you get used to it, though, you can enjoy the scenery and the story line.

The point of the game is to help Laura navigate through a hospital to save her father, who is slowly turning into a vampire. This is where the time limit comes in. Throughout the game Laura receives visions of her father warning her to turn back, or the door to her world will be forever closed off. Unfortunately, because of how dated this game is, these prehistoric cutscenes are no more than comical today. That being said, the graphics are actually quite impressive for its time. The game includes two discs, which proves how the graphics pushed the Saturn’s limits. It is much more visually appealing than the original Resident Evil.

There are a few simple puzzles throughout the game. The control scheme makes some of them much more frustrating than necessary, but the puzzles themselves fit the game well.

My favorite part of this game was the short interactive fight with a knight that required a button-press combination. This is the oldest example of a button-press combo I’ve ever seen, and I really enjoyed it. I only wish there were more of them in the game.

The game is ultimately too short. I would’ve enjoyed it much more had it been twice as long, with a bigger hospital to explore and more puzzles to solve. Still, D‘s storyline and imagery are good enough to make me want to play it over again, and its short length gives me confidence that it’s a game I could end up revisiting a few times in the future. The over-all depth of the game is not impressive at all considering that RE was already out at this time, but when looking for a simple, fun game to kill (a small part of) an afternoon with, D is great for that.

I’d recommend this game over Clock Tower 3 any day!

Check out Chris’s review of D here.