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Game Reviews

Forza Horizon [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

A brilliant blend between high-stakes, full-throttle racing and meditative country drive in your dream car, Forza Horizon takes a well-loved, established franchise and dares to do something a little different. Fans of the franchise may miss the game’s simulation edge, but for a game that offers so much variety strung together, quite nicely, with a core concept that holds throughout, it’s hard to stay angry at the decision to change for more than a couple minutes into the game.

The Pros: 

+Intelligent use of the world, environment, menus and audio to create a unified theme throughout.

+Combines the best of both worlds: full-throttle super-speed racing, and a relaxing Sunday drive through the country.

+Slightly more relaxed atmosphere/controls than the previous games, lowering the barrier of entry for new/casual players.

The Cons: 

-Some of the “challenges” push the boundaries of casual into straightforward boredom, i.e. the photo challenges (where you just need to get your car to a visually stimulating point without wrecking the car, without any form of time challenge).

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
9

Forza has spent the last seven years working its way into my heart. Originally a franchise I passed off as Microsoft’s attempt to be Gran Turismo. It’s grown over the years in leaps and bounds, the most recent iteration, Forza 4, becoming one of my favorite racing games of all time. When Horizon was announced, so shortly after the launch of four, I found myself wondering if it was a bit too soon for a sequel.

Alien Breed [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

As a reminder of the more simpler days of the shooting genre, Alien Breed holds up well today as it’s neither a dull shooter nor is it an arcade one that can be easily completed in twenty minutes. Combining the best of both worlds, Alien Breed has gameplay that’s accessible yet has a rather enjoyable grinding nature that encourages exploration.  With a nice collection of content thanks to two existing releases and the addition of eight new levels, Alien Breed is a welcomed addition to the PlayStation Mobile software library.

The Pros: 

+ Both the classic and enhanced visuals are nice to look at.
+ Gotta love the creepy OST and shriek of the aliens.
+ Controls are simple and totally responsive.
+New levels offer some nice variety alongside the more natural stage design.

The Cons: 

-  Not being able to switch between classic and enhanced visuals in between levels.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

There are some video games out there that are so good that they simply become timeless.  No matter how far certain graphical or gameplay leaps may be made, there are a select few games out there that simply remain good no matter how old they are.  Titles like Pac-Man and Doom can stand the test of time even if they don’t have HD visuals since at the end of the day what makes a good game is how good the actual gameplay is.  Now the classic shoot-em-up action of Alien Breed has been re-released for a younger generation and yes - the game is still that damn good.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

The sticker gimmick seems to run dry pretty quickly in this not-RPG follow up in the Paper Mario universe; however, it does have its good points, and would be a worthwhile purchase if not for its full-release $44.99 price tag.

The Pros: 

+Sticker gimmick is cool when using it to solve puzzles

+Graphically very nice-looking

The Cons: 

-Touch screen is very under-used

-3D gets boring for the style

-Sticker gimmick gets very old quickly for everything except puzzles

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
6

Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the 3DS is, in two words, vastly underwhelming. The core concept, which might have been very cool, was jumbled and confused in spite of its simplicity: it's not an RPG, but it retains a turn-based battle system; it's a platformer with a turn-based battle system, but it's also a puzzle-solving adventure game at its core; you paste stickers on everything but you don't even use the touch screen to do so, instead relying on the analog stick or D-pad.

Dance Central 3 [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Dance Central, with two previous titles, is a well-established series. It’s not something that needs any further explanation at this point beyond “That Harmonix game where you dance like a lunatic in front of your TV for the bemusement of your drunken friends.” If you’ve picked up Dance Central 3, or are considering it, you likely know exactly what you’re getting into.

The Pros: 

+Far more diverse set-list then the previous games.

+Funny, if not slightly cheesy, ‘story mode’ in the vein of Elite Beat Agents.

+Gangnam Style DLC announced.

The Cons: 

-Shorter set-list than other games in the genre.

-Dance party mode only offers the set-list via SmartGlass.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
8

When the Kinect originally launched, two years ago now, there was only one thing that had me excited for the hardware (I mean, aside from the potential and the games we were all dreaming up; I mean real, announced titles). That game was Dance Central. “Harmonix is allowing gamers an excuse to dance like fools in the safety of their own living rooms?” I thought.

Assassins Creed 3 [Review] - Loading Woes and Small Issues Steal the Show.

Overall Feeling: 

Assassins Creed 3 ends up feeling rushed and forced in a lot of areas. While the naval combat system is by far the shining star of this title, it feels like a lackluster ending to what I’ve felt is one of the most promising and interesting franchises in gaming.

The Pros: 

+Naval combat is so good it could be a stand alone game.

+Impressive graphics and cinematics make for solid presentation.

+A concise (theoretical) ending to the franchise.

+Beautiful and fun hand to hand combat.

The Cons: 

-Story is not friendly to casual franchise fans.

-Terrible loading design.

-Lackluster and shallow missions.

-User interface is needlessly cumbersome.

-New features meant to expand on past games are just tedious and meaningless.

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
6

I’ve had a rather love/hate relationship with the Assassins Creed franchise. For me, it seems to be a never-ending cycle where Ubisoft announces a game that sounds amazing on paper (and looks incredible in trailers!), but when I sit down to play it, a huge amount of small-issues add up to ruin the experience of what should have been an incredible game. Assassins Creed 3 (AC3) managed to once again follow this trend. I guess they get points for consistency.

Code of Princess [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Code of Princess tries very hard to recapture the spirit and charm of its spiritual predecessor, Guardian Heroes, but ultimately fails to provide the same fast-paced, tight experience that it tries to emulate. There are rumblings of a greater game underneath the sluggish, frustrating combat that Code of Princess provides, but these never quite resonate, and remain buried under poor design choices.

The Pros: 

+ Fun, quirky characters

+ Robust combat system with a lot of room for personalized combos

The Cons: 

- Action feels sluggish and unrewarding

- Grinding is necessary to come close to scratching the game’s harder encounters

- Visuals are stunning up close, but drop in quality drastically when more than three enemies appear on-screen

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
4

A legacy is a double-edged sword. For a game with a great legacy, there’s a good chance that gamers will be into your concept based solely on a name drop. Conversely, if your game isn’t a worthy successor to a beloved classic, chances are it’ll get more flak than a bomber flying over France circa WWII.

Final Fantasy Dimensions - Prologue and Chapter 1 [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Mixed. If released twenty years ago, FFD might have occupied the same hallowed headspace as the Squaresoft masterpieces of the mid 90s—all the ingredients look to be here in more-or-less the right quantities, and no one would balk at the $29 price for a full console RPG. Today, though, you have a decent iOS RPG with above-average graphics, sound, combat, and character customization, but the cookie-cutter character archetypes and job system—beloved and well-designed as they are—do not justify the headline-making price tag.

The Pros: 

+ Everything you love about Square's "golden years" are here—super-deformed characters, emotional twists, moogles, airships, tough bosses, crystals, menu-based combat, equipment, accessories, summons, etc.

+ Pretty sprite-based character visuals and animations, great spell effects

+ Good touch controls with a short learning curve

+ We've seen it before, but the job system is pretty great

The Cons: 

- Everything you hate about Square's "golden years" are here—goofy translations, the same old moody characters, random battles, an evil empire, epic but often nonsensical plot, etc.

- Poor pacing with little character development

- A possible lack of value for the price when compared to other good iOS titles

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
6

You could argue that Square Enix is trying something courageous with Final Fantasy Dimensions (FFD). You could argue that, alongside the veritable firehose of tens of thousands of freemium iOS games, they have brought a complete, high-quality RPG to the platform and that they are paving the way for other triple-A titles to charge the appropriate amount for the experience. You could argue their goal was to take a strong step towards your i-device becoming the gaming system you reach for even when you're at home and capable of playing on a console.

I don't think that was their goal.

Supermagical [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

It's easy to look past the overly cutesy story when you see Supermagical's gorgeous hand-drawn visuals, and you'll forgive some necessary grinding and softly suggested in-game purchases when you hear what is probably one of the best game soundscapes on the platform. The core mechanics of this puzzler—colour matching—were pioneered way back in the mid 90s with the Bust-a-Move games, but Supermagical adds a bit of depth to what existed and stacks powerups and allies on top. With a decent challenge curve it's a game that almost anyone can play and a strong bargain for the price point.

The Pros: 

+ Pretty graphics, better audio, and a consistent, unified theme tying it all together

+ Simple but varied gameplay complete with minigames; good challenge later on

+ Great value for you, your spouse, your kids, and your friends' kids

The Cons: 

- Childish; you won't fire this one up to show off your new iPad

- A bit grindy, and far moreso if you want to buy all the powerups in the game

- Not exactly pushing the medium or genre for innovation, though still well executed

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
7

I bought Supermagical on a lark when it was featured in the App Store—the coverage mentioned how charming the title is, and I had a road trip upcoming. While the game has a few minor flaws, it turns out my dollar was very well spent.

Mass Effect 3: Leviathan DLC [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Leviathan provides an interesting new chapter to the ME3 story, and it's clear that a good deal of thought and care went into both the narrative and encounter design, but it doesn't match ME2's best efforts, most notably Overlord or Lair of the Shadow Broker. The DLC provides some beautiful new areas to explore, answers questions and fills in some of the rich lore of the ME universe, and challenges the player with slight innovations during some stand-out action scenes. Still, with a misstep in revealing information too early and no truly difficult decisions to make, it's a little short and a little plodding for the price tag.

The Pros: 

+ Strong writing and voice acting, and some interesting, challenging twists on combat scenarios

+ Suitably creepy and mysterious, and well-paced overall with several ups and downs

+ New weapons, a new power, and decent payoff towards the main plot

The Cons: 

- Coming this late after ME3's release considerably lessens the impact of the events in Leviathan—I wish I could have played it on release

- Slower-paced "detective" work is fine at first, but once the player has exhausted the eye-candy and grown used to the mystery, sections can drag on

- Probably a little pricey for the value, especially when compared to past DLC

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
7

Commander Shepard's exploits, male or female, have sold millions of copies of their games in our universe, safe-guarded billions of aliens in theirs, and have made headlines in both by including the ability to punch out reporters mid-sentence and explore cross-species, same-sex, and even old-fashioned hetero loving with accompanying make-out scenes. The intellectual property has been much-loved and simultaneously reviled, most recently by the outcry over ME3's original endings.

Hybrid [Review]

Overall Feeling: 

Hybrid takes your typical third person shooter, turns it on its head, adds a jetpack and says go at. While it certainly carries a unique and refreshing twist on the genre, Hybrid's fast pace gameplay is not for everyone. Not to mention the lack of single player... Sup with dat? If you're a run and gun shooter fan, this game is for you.

The Pros: 

- Cover to cover warfare provides a unqiue flare to the third person genre

- The multiplayer map interface awards players with bonus experience

- Delivers all the basic game modes a multiplayer game should

- 3 on 3 action keeps the intensity on high

The Cons: 

- Lobby finder takes forever to locate a game

- No story mode

- Fast pace gameplay is not for everyone

ShogunGamer.com Rating : 
7

Hybrid is some crazy stuff... and after playing it sporadically over the past week I'm still trying to figure out if that's a good or bad thing.

5th Cell, the team behind the awesome, if you think it, you can make it, Scribblenauts, took the idea of a third person shooter and changed it as we know it. Is it ground breaking? Meh. Is it unique? Hell yeah!

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