Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Terminator Salvation Review

Whether or not you'll want to play Terminator Salvation all comes down to one question: Do you care about trophies/achievements? If yes, you're in luck. One 5-hour playthrough on hard will net you the full suite. If no, you're not missing anything. Salvation is a mess. Your allies are complete idiots, but enemies are even worse, fluctuating between omniscience and obliviousness. Fighting the same three enemy types is extremely repetitive and the game becomes a grind to the next checkpoint since the story offers no salvation from the tiresome gameplay. To make matters worse, technical problems ranging from an unreliable framerate to complete game freezes make trudging through this already bland action game even more of a chore than it had to be. At $60, Salvation is a complete ripoff, but if you really want the trophies/achievements, give it an overnight rental.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic Review

Imagine a fighting game that is one part Super Smash Bros., one part Team America: World Police, and one part cheesy 1970s Kung Fu action movie and you've got the premise for Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic. From the title screen to the characters to the animation, everything about Rag Doll radiates personality and humor. The whole game is an exercise in ridiculousness, and makes for a hell of a good time. The single-player challenges can be addicting, but the multiplayer is the star. It's insanely fun to beat up on friends and take every opportunity to unleash hilarious taunts. Lack of online multiplayer hurts, but it's more fun in person anyway. Definitely buy it; it's worth the $10.

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New Review Style

Something I've grappled with for every review is "how much should I write?" I know I'm the smallest of the small-time blogs, so why write a full-length review? Not to say that I shouldn't put effort into my reviews; that would be idiotic. I just feel that, because what is delicious is not one of the commanding videogame websites or blogs out there, I should focus on concise writing that doesn't require the reader to invest as much.

Concise writing is much, much harder because there are always things you want to say that you just have to cut, but ultimately, it's more rewarding. If I can fit everything important I need to say about a game into a 120-word paragraph as opposed to a 1200-word epic review that includes all the minutia, that's doing the reader a service.

Besides, almost every "full-length" review out there from major publications only has two important paragraphs: The first and last. The first usually introduces the basic feeling about the game and the last concludes to offer a final verdict. Everything in the middle is just explaining how to play the game and how all the individual components work with excruciating detail that you've probably already read in previews and seen in videos. And that middle section rarely deviates from review to review. Only the first and last paragraphs tend to offer a truly different opinion.

So, in keeping with my new review scale that trims things down from a three-tiered rating system to just two, I'm going to start trimming my reviews down. It's certainly a writing exercise, but I'm hoping that by limiting myself to one paragraph with a 150-word ceiling, my writing will be tighter and deliver the message quicker.

The first example of this will be in my Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic review, to be published shortly.