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AxelStone

Reviews

Silent Hill: 0rigins (PSP)

Short, sweet but lacking the impact of the rest of the series.

The Good
Silent Hill origins is the first Silent Hill to be released on the PSP (not the first on a handheld that honor goes to Play Novel for the GBA) and Climax graphics did a fairly good job adapting the game for the weaker hardware. Melee fighting has been overhauled including breakable weapons and the ability to use just about anything you can pick up as a weapon. Enemies and boss characters are balanced well and the sick, glistening sheen exhibited by all of them is commendable. Ambient sound effects and a masterful score by Akira Yamaoka will once again make you pee your pants and cry your eyes out at the same time. The story is fairly typical however seeing the revelations about Travis' childhood including the physical abuse from his Mother and the suicide of his father are harrowing and depressing, just like a Silent Hill storyline should be. An achievement system has also been added to the game, rewarding you for meeting certain conditions during play with weapons or costumes available on an additional play through.

The Bad
Silent Hill Origins is incredibly short. The size of the town proper has been reduced; you can only explore one district. In addition to that the reduced graphical grunt of the PSP reduces the shock factor of some of the scenes. Speaking of shock, there is little present in Origins and although some set pieces are astoundingly inventive (like the Stage) most are simply recycled or bland.

The Bottom Line
A short, formulaic Silent Hill experience which is nothing new or refreshing but a welcome addition to the franchise with a competent story, pretty good acting and a fantastic soundtrack.

By AxelStone on March 1, 2009

Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

An very, very over rated game.

The Good
Super Mario Galaxy is bright, colorful and inoffensive. The game play is solid and the music is competent if a little derivative. The inclusion of symphonic tracks is finally welcome.

The Bad
The fact that barely anything has changed. Admit it, take away the sphere walking and star grabbing and you have essentially the same game that Nintendo released in 1996. Call me cynical but I don't believe 1 gimmick can carry an entire game and the sphere walking thing doesn't really impress me. The fact that little has changed since 1996 is weak and the only reason people love this game is because of a certain mustachioed plumber that has become somewhat of a messiah.

The Bottom Line
Super Mario 64 with Sphere Walking.

By AxelStone on March 1, 2009

Virtua Racing Deluxe (SEGA 32X)

One of the best racers ever created.

The Good
A significant amount. First of all Virtua Racer is so utterly playable words cannot describe it. The game is addictive and handles so well. The cars are all weighted differently and accelerate and break at different ratios. The extra two tracks extend replay value to a large degree and the bright colors, brilliantly rendered environments and the pure arcade perfect qualities of the title are lend to it being possibly one of the best racers ever made.

The Bad
The graphics are considered average by today's standards and there is quite a bit of pop up evident while driving through the tracks. Frame rates can fluctuate from around 30fps to 20-15 fps every now and then. AI drivers can be quite aggressive at times.

The Bottom Line
A fantastic racer with gorgeous polygonal graphics, bright colors and addictive game play that will have you hooked.

By AxelStone on March 1, 2009

Fighting Force 2 (Dreamcast)

Silent, boring, repetitive...Play Fighting Force 1 instead.

The Good
The premise is interesting; cloning has been outlawed and you playing as Mercenary Hawk Mason must investigate. Combat is straight forward without millions of complicated combos to memorize and there is a fair amount of weaponry to experiment with. A first person mode which can be utilized to accurately fire weapons and throw grenades or knives is also executed nicely.

The Bad
The music is more or less simply ambiance which is boring and repetitive, speaking of repetitive so is the "go here, push this, kill this person" gameplay. Textures are gross and bland and characters, although animated smoothly are blocky and look as if they are made of Lego. Boss battles aren't challenging, if you can spare some ammo until them you can waste boss characters in a matter of seconds.

The Bottom Line
In an effort to incorporate adventure elements into the Fighting Force series Core have shot themselves in the foot. Gameplay is monotonously repetitive, music is virtually non-existent, characters look like they are made of Lego and textures are bland. Some nice lighting, straight forward combat and a good First Person mode do not make up for the fact that this is a severely boring game. Fighting Force 1 on the Playstation is at least slightly entertaining. There are better adventures awaiting on the Dreamcast and I suggest you hunt them down before even approaching this.

By AxelStone on February 3, 2008

Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose! (SNES)

Deceptively simple platformer that will have you hooked!

The Good
Konami's Tiny Toon Adventures games are all brilliantly pulled off adding something a little different each time to the platform genre. In Buster Busts Loose! you take on the role of, you guessed it, Buster Bunny through a bunch of completely unrelated events which are narrated by Buster and Babs before each stage in a humourous little cut-scene. Gameplay wise Buster controls well, he is responsive and his jump is nice and springy. There are three moves you can pull off; the basic jump, a dropkick (which looks more like a bicycle kick) and Busters Dash technique which you can use to kill enemies and solve puzzles which normally involve you running up a wall and jumping to another one etc. As I mentioned before each level is COMPLETELY different, you start in Acme Looniversity and then move on to the Western movie stage and then a haunted mansion in the middle of a forest before joining in a game of Football against a rival team of identical ducks. After each stage you get to spin a wheel with pictures of most of the main characters on it, whatever face the wheel lands on is the mini-game you get to play. My personal favourite is Furballs Championship Squash which features a really cool reflection effect off the polished hardwood floor.

The Bad
The first couple of levels are snoringly easy and then all of a sudden the difficulty level is ramped up during the Mansion stage in which you are forced to negotiate some taxing jumps, after a bit of practice these jumps become easy however it sort of hits you with this difficulty spike all of a sudden. Occasionally I found that when I spun the mini game wheel it would repeatedly land on the same game which gets irritating after a while. The music is stock, basic cartoon background music and I found the Western and Football game tracks to be excruciatingly annoying.

The Bottom Line
Buster Busts Loose may sound stupid but it is a deceptively simple platformer from the platforming specialist; Konami. The game is bright, colorful, addictive and utterly playable, I personally love the inclusion of the mini games between stages. I guarantee that you will enjoy this game, it is definitely one of the better platformers for the SNES. The game however is a tad short so don't be disappointed when all of a sudden it is over :P.

By AxelStone on January 26, 2008

Silent Hill (PlayStation)

An amazing Survival Horror game, deep and disturbing.

The Good
Silent Hill is truly disturbing. From the get go you are bombarded with horrific imagery like strung up corpses and half skinned dog carcases, this disturbing nature however is offset by the raw humanity conveyed by the characters in the game from Harry's ceaseless searching for his daughter to the sheer loneliness, isolation and despair felt by Lisa. The game itself is vast, you explore several districts of Silent Hill including one part of the game that is completely optional yet no less expansive. Weapon wise Harry can wield pipes, knives, axes, shotguns, rifles and chainsaws in his quest to find his missing daughter, an odd pick up you can find actually makes you pretty much invincible for a short period of time. Enemies are disturbing (obviously) one resembles a gorilla with it's skin pulled tight over it's body, another is a small child with razors for fingers - this sounds like a Clive Barker game but believe me it's not. For all of the blood and guts and chainsaws Silent Hill never looses it's sense of purpose, it never leads you off into corners you don't need to go to and you always know where you have to go thanks to the ingenious map which Harry draws on as he finds blocked or locked doors or impassable areas. Finally the soundtrack is simply amazing. Akira Yamaoka has struck a perfect balance between surreal, unsettling and frightening and tender, relaxed and calm tracks. Some tracks make you want to cry, others almost put you to sleep and other terrify you but they are all works of art.

The Bad
Very little in this game can be considered bad. At times some individuals may find the constant adventuring a tad tedious, others criticize the fog present in the game and at times the acting can be considered a little lame.

The Bottom Line
Silent Hill is the epitome of horror. It screws with your mind and makes you go to places you never thought of going to, the gameplay superb, character designs are excellent and the music is just so well dichotomised words cannot describe it. If you are a fan of Survival Horror and you have been avoiding Silent Hill then shame on you but it is still out there, I suggest you find it and savour the fear.

By AxelStone on January 26, 2008

Super Drinker (MSX)

What the hell?

The Good
Little, jumping is alright I suppose.

The Bad
Everything almost. The concept of it advocating alcoholism is a little disturbing, the gameplay is infinitely repetitive and it is so boring to look at my eyes were screaming for me to look away.

The Bottom Line
One of the worst I have ever played, it isn't worth it. Go play something on the Atari.

By AxelStone on January 22, 2008

Metroid Prime (GameCube)

It was alright while it lasted....

The Good
Fun, fun, fun. Metroid Prime oozes fun, the graphics are gorgeous and the environments sprawling and full of little alcoves and nooks to explore. Enemies are nicely rendered however I do have a couple of qualms with them. The puzzles are ingenious and involve you rolling around in morph ball mode or finding and shooting runes to activated doors. Boss battles are pretty epic and normally involve 2 or 3 different forms.

The Bad
The game is short I finished it in 6 or so hours the first time I played it through. This is a shame aswell because the game feels so epic and then all of a sudden it's just over. Additionally enemies are pretty dumb, the insect based ones will float around or crawl around and run into you to attack you. Shooting enemies will hide behind things to a degree or stand out in the open and shoot at you, one thing I did like was the fact that some will fall when shot and turn around and continue shooting from their prone position but otherwise they are quite stupid. It's also hard to die as nearly all enemies will drop health replinishing items or missiles which are pretty devastating provided you have the room to store them.

The Bottom Line
Metroid Prime is a great FPS. I don't think it really revolutionizes the genre but it feels fresh and most of all it feels like a game you want to keep playing. Unfortunately the game is so short you can't keep playing it and you walk away feeling unfulfilled. A nice aesthetic, great gameplay and a fistful of great ideas more than compensates for this though.

By AxelStone on January 22, 2008

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)

Nothing new enough to warrant a purchase

The Good
I do like Zelda don't get me wrong. The graphics are pretty good but not exactly ground breaking, the control scheme is nice and I love the new circular inventory system. Hyrule has been overhauled and it is considerably larger than the last time we rambled around it as Link. Puzzles involving transforming between a Wolf and Link are pretty ingenious, look for ghosts pointing to the goal and then transform back into Link to get the job done!.

The Bad
As usual little has changed. The control system has been buffed but has essentially remained unchanged since Ocarina of Time, take away the pointing with the wii-mote and it's same old, same old. There are little new locations, graphics are fairly un-impressive for a next-gen console and most of the items are pretty superfluous. The novelty of changing into a Wolf wears off quickly and admit it, our new buddy is essentially Navi. Most of the music in the game is just a bunch of remixes of old Zelda tunes but there are some new tracks and some of the mini-games are boring (Whoa, let's herd what fun!) and bizzare (giant fruit collecting????).

The Bottom Line
What we have here friends is Zelda; Ganondorf is back (for the six billionth time) and another Link must take up sword and fight for the survival of Hyrule. You can do some new things and there are bells and whistles but essentially it's just the same old formula recycled with a new graphics engine, I definetly wouldn't buy this game it's a renter if anything. Buy it if you want, I mean you will enjoy it because it's Zelda and it is fun but there just isn't enough that is new to warrant a purchase.

By AxelStone on January 22, 2008

Resident Evil: Outbreak (PlayStation 2)

What went wrong with a game so full of promise?!

The Good
Resident Evil is my favourite franchise. You are placed in claustrophobic locations and are dogged by Zombies, Cerberi and various other hideous mutant aberrations looking for a feast. Outbreak is no exception. You can play as one of 8 characters through 5 horrific scenarios beating back Umbrella corporations twisted creations while working in a 3 man team to overcome your T-Virus infection which you slowly succumb to in real time. This is the first Resident Evil that incorporates melee combat as well as fire arms as well as the ability to hide from enemies in closets and under beds and benches. Players can also kick down doors or nail them shut in some instances to halt advancing zombie hordes.

The Bad
Outbreak however isn't always a walk in the zombie infested park. Load times are hideous and sitting with the "Now Loading" icon on the screen becomes a maligned ritual. Characters "Ad-libs" which are used to communicate with each other are also badly translated, sometimes not corresponding with the onscreen display at all. The North American and European versions were actually intended to have online play like the Japanese version but this was cancelled for some unknown reason. My last gripe is the fact that the new inventory and map are in real time so while you are examining either you can be attacked, annoying.

The Bottom Line
Outbreak is how Resident Evil should be. Full 3D with gorgeous graphics and the same atmospheric, cinematic camera angles synonymous with the earlier titles. The new team work system, T-Virus infection and heightened environmental interaction are all welcome and refreshing features however the load times, crappy translation and stupid real time inventory and map stop the game from being one of the best in the series. I would recommend Outbreak, its a necessity to own it. But don't expect this game to be as good as 1,2,3 or even to a lesser extent 4.

By AxelStone on January 22, 2008