About Me

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Greetings. I am the Illusive One. For many years now I have been a huge video game player, movie viewer, and book reader. For almost as long, I have been a critic of these things and many people respect my opinions of these things and have often said I belong on G4 doing reviews on X-Play or a similar show. Sadly that is not likely to happen. So instead I shall do reviews for you, uninfluenced by other reviewers, of video games books, movies, and, occasionally, music and political actions. I hope you find this informative and helpful. Thank you for your time.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Assassins Creed 2 Review

            When Assassins Creed was released in 2007, no one had expected it would be the hit that it was.  Although reviews for the game were moderate, the sales were high and millions of copies were sold worldwide.  What would follow in the wake of its success was undoubtedly one of the greatest game sequels ever made.  It was Assassins Creed 2.
The Plot
            The game starts not long after the first, with Desmond waiting in Abstergo when Lucy breaks in with blood on her cloths and breaks him out, fighting through several Abstergo guards.  The two then go to an Assassin hideout where Lucy explains to Desmond that the Assassins are fighting a losing war against the Templers and plans on training Desmond as an Assassin.  In order to do this she once again puts him in an Animus where he live through the life of Ezio Auditore, another of his Assassin ancestors.  In this part of the story, much of Ezio's family is killed by Templers and this puts him on a lifelong mission fighting against them.  This brings him all across Italy and gets him involved in various political battles over control of the Italian Cities and eventually a battle over the pieces of Eden.
The Game Play
            While the first game suffered from repetitive game play this one did not.  There are many different targets for Ezio to kill and each requires a different approach.  Some require you to kill the target without being detected while others requires storming a stronghold and putting your blade in the targets throat. 
            In this game you are given money after each job and this can go to a number of things.  Ezio is put in charge of repairing his Uncle's estate which costs money but also brings in income that you can use towards other things such as upgraded weapons and armor.  You are also offered the ability to dye you cloths to different colors and to buy paintings in cities.  Minor detail but still cool.  
            The game also offers a much larger arsenal of weapons and armor.  In this game you have two hidden blades that can act as weapons in a fight rather than just being used to assassinate.  Hidden poison blades are also available as is a primitive pistol.  You are also able to buy axes and maces as opposed to just using a sword.  The game also offers the ability to fight unarmed and the ability to disarm your opponents.   
            There are also two side missions of importance in this game.  The first involves Ezio hunting for various Assassin Seals that unlocks the armor of Altair, probably the best armor in the game.  The Second mission involves searching for markings throughout Italy that match the ones Desmond saw at the end of the first game.  Finding these puts you into a decoding phase of the game that shows various people throughout the world during different time periods and using pieces of Eden.
The Characters
            There are so many characters in this game to speak of that talking about each would take up way too much time so I'll limit myself to the major ones.  Ezio is an interesting character and it's not often you see a flawed protagonist in a video game.  He tends to be a bit of an ass and often acts immature, especially when the game begins and it’s interesting to see how he develops and matures as the game progresses.  Leonardo Da Vinci is Ezio's best friend in the game and is just hilarious.  He deciphers all of the codex pages Ezio finds and builds a lot of the weapons he uses.  He often comes off as being a bit of a mad scientist and is a great addition to the game.  Desmond has little screen time in the game and doesn’t offer much to it and Lucy is now an emotional wreck due to the strain of the losing war against the Templers.  The game also introduces us to the character of Shaun and Rebecca.  Rebecca is in charge of the Animus and is your typical supportive “let’s get it done with a smile” character.  Shaun is another Tech guy with an abrasive personality and more of a “you’re in my way, I'm trying to work” type character.  All around the characters of this game were great.
The Verdict
            All around this was a great game and one of, if not the, greatest video game squeals of all time.  Assassins Creed: Brotherhood is due for release November 26th, and we can only hope it lives up to the example Assassins Creed II as set.  It had great game play, great characters, and a great plot with ending that left you only saying these three words: What The Fuck!?
All Around

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Call of Duty: World at War

            Although it may not be the immediate predecessor this game is the true predecessor to Black Ops, having the same developers and Infinity Ward, developers of Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2, having nothing to do with Black Ops.  It was the game nobody wanted but quickly became one of the best WWII video games ever made, if for no reason then multi-player and Nazi-Zombies.  It's time for my Call of Duty: World at War review.
The Plot
            Like all previous Call of Duty games, with the exception of Modern Warfare, this game takes place in WWII.  In this game you take control of two different characters.  The first is Private C. Miller of the U.S. Marines.  In his story line, you are a Marine in the Pacific Theater of the War.  This was an extreme shift from previous COD games that had all taken place in the European Theater and is what makes the games campaign worth playing.  In the second you take control of Private Dimitri Petrenko of the Russian Red Army and his fights in Stalingrad and the Russian Offensive.
The Game Play
            Like previous COD games, it’s a first person shooter with the usual array of WWII weapons.  The Russian Front is just a rehashing of the same fighting you saw in previous COD games.  The Pacific Theater, however, comes off as being fresh and introduces tensions and a kind of close combat fighting never before seen in a COD game, particularly when the Japanese charge you and the fighting gets close and brutal. 
            Where this game shines, however, is in its multi-player.  As with most games you have your traditional multi-player games, but this one offered the ability to tilt the edge of the fighting in your favor based on how many kills you got in a row.  Depending on how many enemies you kill, you can send dogs loose on your enemy, call in artillery strikes, scan the map for enemy locations and much more.  It also offers a leveling system that enables you to get better weapons and sights for these weapons.
            The real reason to play this game can be summarized in two words: Nazi-Zombies.  This game mode is self explanatory.  You’re a solder who is killing endless waves of Nazi-Zombies.  That's it.  It's extremely addicting and ridiculously fun to play.  Throughout the game you purchase weapons that have a bigger kick to them, along with power increases that spawn from your kill or are purchased such as ammo power, increased speed, instant kill, and a lot more.
The Characters
            The only two characters to speak of in this game are Sergeant Reznov and Corporal Roebuck.  The only thing to note about them, however, is their voice actors.  Gary Oldman does a great job as Sergeant Reznov and his voice is almost unrecognizable with the Russian accent.  The same can't be said for Kiefer Sutherland who just sounds like he's reading off a script.  But all around, there was nothing noteworthy about the characters.
The Verdict
            By the time the game came out, WWII was a well worn first person shooter setting and people were sick of it.  While this game wasn't a reviver of WWII games it certainly was a great game and could very easily be the last WWII one ever made.  And that's the biggest and probably the only flaw of the game.  If you ignore that it's a great WWII game, a great multi-player game and Nazi-Zombies!  The new Call of Duty game is due for release on November 9th but will not be a WWII of Modern Warfare Game and we can only hope it proves to be as great as its predecessors.
All Around

Best Part of the Game

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Force Unleashed

            When George Lucas first made Star Wars in the mid 70s he never would have dreamed that it would become the cultural phenomenon that it did.  From it he was able to build an empire in films, special effects companies, cloths, toys, animated series, books and video games.
            Since the Star Wars Battlefront series went under, the focus on Star Wars video games has shifted to a new series with an new approach to it.  The game in question is The Force Unleashed.
     The Plot
            The game opens with Darth Vader hunting a fugitive Jedi on the Wookie home-world of Kashyyyk.  After a battle with the Wookiees and a fight with the Jedi, Vader kills the Jedi only to discover his son and takes him as his apprentice.  Trained in secret from the Emperor, several years pass and the Secret Apprentice's training is complete.  As a final test, Vader sends the Apprentice to hunt down and kill remaining fugitive Jedi and sends events to motion that lead the Apprentice to questions his loyalties to Vader and the forming of the Rebel Alliance.  The plot, in my opinion, was great and made it a worthy edition to the Star Wars series.
The Game Play
            The game tends to follow a hack and slash type of game play similar to that of God of War.  Each level tends to be a Point A to Point B type thing with a boss fight at the end of each.  The Force powers in the game are incredibly fun to use but are, for the most part, unoriginal.  You have your traditional Force Push and Force Lightning, along with the Saber Throw, (invented in earlier Star Wars games), and Force action sequences such as pulling a Star Destroyer out of the sky or slicing an AT-ST in half.  The best part of the game play were the boss fights. 
            They were epic fights with obstacles and  changes in the environment to tip the balance against you.  It far surpassed any light saber fights in any earlier games, (or any of the movies for that matter).    But at the same time it also brings in a major flaw with the game.  The fights tend to be so fast moving that the camera can't keep up and the Apprentice or the foes fly outside of your view.  While overlook-able it's still a pain in the ass. 
            Another flaw in the game play is that the foes in this game tend to be carbon copies of each other.  Stormtroopers, for example , tend to act the same as Rebel Solders and are equipped with nearly identical equipment.  All around, the game play was a bit repetitive when all is said and done with its Point A to Point B type thing.
The Characters
            Despite a great plot that ties in greatly with the films, the characters in the game tended to be a bit uninspired and flat, but this could very well be do to the shortness of the game.  Their weren’t many cut scenes for the characters to develop and its implied they talk more off camera then on.  Vader and the Emperor are still evil to the core and are exactly what you would expect.  Princess Lea has the same arrogant attitude she did in A New Hope.  Jimmy Smits reprises his role as Bail Organa but doesn’t have much to offer.  The Secret Apprentice's love interest, Juno, doesn’t really have much to offer either and seemed like she was just put in the game for that purpose. 
            There is also an original Jedi character named General Kota who acts as another mentor to the Secret Apprentice who is one of only two dynamic supporting characters.  He starts out as a passionate rebel leader, to a drunken washout, only to return to a passionate rebel.  The most interesting supporting character is Proxy, a kind of psycho and useful version of C-3PO.  We was programed by Vader to test the Secret Apprentice and is constantly trying to kill him with programs of the skills and appearances of Jedi and Sith from the past of the series.
            The most interesting character by far, however, is the Secret Apprentice.  It's very interesting to see him transform from a to a warrior not quite Jedi and not quite Sith who develops a conscience and feelings for his new allies.  All around, the characters could have been better but I've seen worse.
The Verdict
            All around, this game was sweet but had some major flaws.  The game was to repetitive, to short, the characters were lacking, and seemed like it was done on a tight budget and we can only hope that The Force Unleashed II weeds out these flaws.  I would recommend it only if you're a fan of Star Wars and of Hack and Slashers.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fable II

            For my next review, I shall be doing another game that has had mixed response fans.  Like the 2008 reboot game of Prince of Persia, this game also released to generally favorable reviews but got  mixed reactions from fans.  It's time for a Fable II review.
The Plot
            The game takes place five hundred years after the first Fable and the events in it have become subject to legend and interpretation.  After the death of Jack of Blades the Heroes became obsolete, tyrannical, and were finally wiped out by the people of Albion after the invention of gunpowder.  In this game you once again play as a silent, unnamed Hero who is revealed to a descendent of the Hero of the first game.  In this game you seek to avenge the death of your sister and to prevent a man named Lord Lucian from rebuilding an ancient device, called the Spire, that will grant him the power to shape the world as he wishes.  In order to do this, you must find the Hero's of Strength, Will and Skill who, along with you, hold the key to defeating Lord Lucian.
The Game Play
            The fighting system of this game was very much like the original Fable with a few things added.  Like the previous game, you had the choice of using your usual hack and slash weapons like swords and axes and a number of spells to choose from.  Unlike the previous Fable, however, bows and crossbows have been replaced by muskets and pistols.  The game also offers a variety of clothing, ranging from the cloths of a commoner to the clothes of a noble.  The tradeoff for this, (and an unfair one) is that in this Fable there is no armor. 
            Perhaps the best part of the game is your dog.  Found by you and your sister at the beginning of the game, this dog is your constant companion throughout it.  He finds you objects, opens doors, fight along side you, and is fun as hell just to play fetch with.
            Another great part of this game is the ability to buy property.  The first one was limited to buying houses, whereas in this game you can buy huge amounts of real-estate, town stores and stalls, and can own almost everything in Albion.  Like the previous game, there is a karma system that determines your appearance, in this game the appearance of your dog and the way people react to you.  While in the first one, the karma system was more or less based on decisions you made in the storyline, this one had a karma system that was more based on the choices you made in the jobs you took.  That's not to say their aren’t karma decisions to make in the storyline but they don't hold as much weight in this one as they did in the first.  For example, choosing to be a bounty hunter results in good karma while choosing to be an assassin results in bad.
            There is also a corruption/purity meter and also affects the appearance of you and your dog.  This meter is generally determined by the way you handle the property you own.  Charging high rent for living on your property, for example, results in corruption while having low rent results in purity.  
            The way you earned money has also changed.  In the previous game, you earned money by completing missions.  In this game, you take up various jobs to earn money, such as blacksmithing, wood chopping, or bounty hunting.  This makes earning money considerably easier.  That, in turn, made the entire game easier.  Another factor of the game play worth noting, is the ability to buy experience potions.  This made leveling up extreamly easy and made the entire game considerably easier as well.
          The Characters
            Despite the relatively easy game play and a silent, nameless, protagonist, this game had a number of noteworthy characters.  The first of which, is you dog who never stops being a delight.  There is also the enigmatic mentor of the hero, Theresa, (who appears to be the sister of the hero from the first game).  Then there is Hammer, the Hero of Strength, Garth, the Hero of Well, and Reaver, the Hero of Skill.  Hammer is a former monk who joins you to avenge the death of her father.  Her personality often reflects her upbringing with the monks and develops a fast friendship with both you and your dog.  Garth is a mage who once unwittingly helped Lucian in his attempts to restore the  Spire and joins you after being trapped for years as a prisoner in the Spire.  Calm and patient, Garth seems to be a loner and is a man of few words.  Reaver is a pirate leader who is extremely skilled with a gun but has a cocky and abrasive manner that make him unlikeable but believable and joins you after Lucian attacks his mansion.  Lucian himself is, in his own right, a great villain.  While nowhere near as good as Jack of Blades, the character is believable as a man who has lost everything he cares about and is willing to do anything and kill anyone in order to get what he wants.   All around, the character of this game were great.
    The Verdict
            All around, this game was OK.  While, for the most part, it had great game play and great characters, the game suffered from being to easy.  The storyline was short and seemed like it was just put in as an afterthought.  The final boss fight at the end of the game was just stupid and wasn’t even in the same league as the first one, (anyone who as played the game will know exactly what I mean).  The various jobs and buildings you can buy take away much of the difficulty in earning money and the ability to buy experience potions made the game far to easy.  All around, it's a decent game in its own right, but as a sequel to Fable, it falls short and was a disappointment.  Fable III is due for release on the 26th of October and I can only hope it proves to be a better sequel then this game was.
All Around

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fallout 3

            It's October and this is the time of the year when the best games of year are released.  There are a number of impressive and anticipated titles that are due for release in October and November for the holiday sales, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops, Fable III, Fallout: New Vegas, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2.  In preparation for these new games I shall be reviewing the immediate predecessors of each of these games over the next few days starting with Fallout 3.
The Plot
            Like previous Fallout games, this one takes place in the distant post apocalyptic, 50s themed, future, this time in the wastelands of Washington D.C.  You play as the only child of James, (or Dad), who's mother died during your birth.  You live your entire life in Vault 101, a society that never returned to the surface after a nuclear war, and your are convinced that you will live the rest of your life their.  One night, however, your dad suddenly leaves Vault 101.  The Overseer of Vault 101, (a dictator of sorts in the vault), goes nuts and  places the entire Vault in lock-down.  Fearing for your life, you flee the Vault and enter the harsh environment of the Capital Wastelands.  And so you go on a journey to find your father, and in doing so, get involved with his efforts to make a large water purifying device, help fight the war against the Super-Mutants, and eventually fighting a war with the Brotherhood of Steel against the Enclave, a tyrannical army claiming to be the rightful government of the United States.
The Game Play
        The game play was, without a doubt, the best for this kind of RPG.  The environment itself was just perfect for this kind of game.  While many people claimed it was bland with to much desert and gray, it's what I think a Post-Apocalyptic game should look like; a land scarred and mutated by nuclear fire  The entire environment reeked of tension.  Walking down any road could result in an attack by raiders or Super-Mutant and you'd never even know they were coming.  In the old subway systems, you never knew what you were going to run into and could be ambushed in the city at any time.  It's a harsh environment where everyone’s a killer and only the quickest survive.
            The V.A.T.S. System was awesome but made the game incredibly difficult when you ran A.P.  This is a system where you went into a kind of auto fire mode, aiming at specific parts of the body for greater damage.  This brings up one of my few criticism for this game.  With most games, you look down the irons of a gun, whereas in this game, you simply zoom in on the target.  This is an incredibly irritating thing when in fight, as its next to impossible to fire a well aimed shot, effective without the V.A.T.S.
            The game also offers a unique selection of weapons and armor.  The armors in this game, range from dusters to prison rags, from raider armor that looks like something out of a Mad Max movie, to power armor that has a delightful mix of futuristic and campy 1950's look to it. 
            Most of the weapons in this game are not that recognizable and are original.  You get your basic weapons that are mandatory for most shooters but the rest are not recognizable at all.  No M16s.  No machine guns.  No AK-47s.  What you get instead are Assault Rifles and Chinese Assault Rifles that are similar to the AK-47 but still different.  There are also rocket launchers and mini-nuke launching Fat-Mans but their effectiveness is limited mostly to larger enemies without risk of taking damage to yourself or your companions.
            The highlight of the weapons are the energy weapons.  While not the rifles or pistols you might see in Terminator or Star Trek, the energy weapons are impressive and the most effective weapons of the game.  The designs of the energy guns are crude, to put it lightly.  The plasma guns, for example  looked like mini-generators with triggers and gun barrels attached to them.  Despite their crude appearance, however, these guns are powerful, effective, and get the job done and more.
            This game also offer you to choose your sex and the way you appear in the game.  There is also a Karma System, very similar to what you would find in Fable.  Like Fable, people react to you differently the way your Karma is aligned.  Your Karma is effected by the choices you make and by whom you kill or don't kill.  For example, very early in the game you are asked by a man to activate a nuke that is in the center of a town called Megaton.  Choosing to destroy the town results in Bad Karma and deactivating the bomb results in Good Karma. 
The Characters
            This game, like many others of the modern gaming world, has an impressive collection of characters and voice actors.  The voice cast includes Liam Neeson as James, (Dad), Malcolm McDowell as President John Henry Eden, the leader of the Enclave, and Ron Perlman as the Narrator.  Other supporting companion characters include Fawkes, the intelligent Super-Mutant, Charon, the Ghoul solder, and Dogmeat, your faithful canine companion who you can find in a junk yard.  Other supporting characters include Amata, your best friend in the Vault, Overseer Alphones, the Overseer of Vault 101, Lucas Simms, the Sheriff of Megaton, Colin Moriarty, the saloon owner of Megaton, Elder Lyons, the leader of the Brotherhood of Steel, his daughter Sara Lyons, leader of the Lyons Pride, Dr. Li, a scientist who works on the water purifier with James, and Colonel Bells, the second-in-command of the Enclave.  All around the characters of this game were great.  They had great voice acting, great lines and were well written
The Verdict
            When the game was released in 2008, it was immediately met with praise on all fronts and won several Game of the Year awards.  For this review I am going to have to agree with the other critics.  This game was, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest games ever made.  While the game has its faults, it doesn't water down the over all experience at all.  It is a must play for any video game player and a crowning achievement in game development, showing anything is possible.  With Fallout New Vegas scheduled for release for October 19th, expectations are high and we can only hope it will live up to the already lengthy legacy before it.
All Around


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Prince of Persia (2008)

            Their have been many games throughout the past thirty years that have been considered masterpieces and others that have been considered horrible abominations that should have never seen the light of day. 
The Game
            For my first review I am going to do one that had mixed responses at the time of its release.  I am referring to the 2008 reboot of Prince of Persia.  Of all the games I've played I don't think I've ever seen people so divided on a game.  Some people think it should have won a Game of the Year award while others think its the worst Prince of Persia game ever made.  All I can do is give you my opinion and you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to play it.
The Plot
            The game starts out with the Prince wandering the desert in the middle of a sandstorm looking for his donkey, Farha when he falls into a ravine that leads to a hidden kingdom.  He then finds a woman, named Elika, running from armed men who turn out to be working for her father.  Long story short he saves her and she reveals that she is the princess of this land and the two of them have to save the land from a dark corruption by collecting these things called light seeds and revive a dying tree that is holding the Demon God Ahriman in prison who will bring about the end of the world if released.  In order to do this they have to save four different parts of this land from the corruption guarded by four different creatures, hell bent on killing you.  In this sense, it is very similar to the plot of The Elfstones of Shannara where the two main characters were working to stop demons from storming the earth.  All around, the plot's a little cliched but its executed in such a way that makes you forget it.
The Game Play
            Like the previous Prince of Persia titles the game play focuses more on environment obstacles rather then combat.  However this is where the game has serious faults.  Where in other games you would have to hold down the buttons in order to run along a wall the obstacles in this game seem to be nothing more then timed button sequences. For example, on the X-Box 360 if you just pressed the right trigger button at a wall, it would automatic run along the wall for you or if their was a wall with a number of grip areas that went straight up you could just press the button once and it would take you right up to the top.  You never fight more then one foe in combat and the ones you fight don't have much of a variety to them.  Another issue I, and most people, have with this game is that it is impossible to die.  For example, if you fall off a cliff, Elika appears, grabs you by the wrist and you both reappear where the obstacle began.  This part is where the game is weak and causes it to blend in with the rest of the crowd.
The Characters
The Prince from this game is reputably not the same character from the Sands of Time Trilogy.  This Prince apparently has more in common with the original Prince from the very first Prince of Persia game, who was nothing more then a street urchin in his youth.  He is a thief, a grave robber, vain and arrogant where as Elika is noble selfless.  The two are complete opposites yet it makes the dialog between the two entertaining.  The only other character worth noting is Elika's insane father who works to release Ahriman for unknown reasons.  The characters are memorable but there is nothing remarkable about them until the end of the game.
The Verdict
            All around this is a decent game.  It is by no means a masterpiece but its not as horrible as many Prince of Persia fans believe it to be.  It's absolutely worth playing through but you probably would never look at it again after you beat it.
All Around

The Illusive One's Reviews

Greetings.  I am the Illusive One.  For many years now I have been a huge video game player, movie viewer, and book reader.  For almost as long, I have been a critic of these things and  many people respect my opinions of these things and have often said I belong on G4 doing reviews on X-Play or a similar show.  Sadly that is not likely to happen.  So instead I shall do reviews for you, uninfluenced by other reviewers, of video games books, movies, and, occasionally, music and political actions.  I hope you find this informative and helpful.  Thank you for your time.