Monday, October 26, 2009

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Review

Not only does it feature one of the most exciting single-player adventures I've ever played, but Uncharted 2: Among Thieves also features incredibly fun co-op and competitive multiplayer, resulting in an absolute must-buy for all PS3 owners.

Nathan Drake is constantly pit against impossible odds that are a blast to play and unbelievable to watch. Whether he's trying to escape a collapsing building or leaping from car to car along the edge of a cliff, you are always in control when something cool is happening. It's really a shame that, like its predecessor, Uncharted 2 falls apart in the end by getting bogged down with out-of-place supernatural elements and a frustrating final boss fight ripped straight from GUN. Everything before the endgame, though, is nothing short of mind-blowing. The single-player is so captivating that I beat it in one 10-hour sitting.

Both the co-op and competitive multiplayer modes are surprisingly polished and addicting. Combine them with the single-player, which adds a ton of replay value by allowing players to earn cheats like slow motion and no gravity for subsequent playthroughs, and Uncharted 2 delivers endless entertainment. All the standard multiplayer modes you'd expect are here, but having characters as acrobatic as these allows the level design to be more creative and matches to be more intense. It's the kind of game you'll be playing until the day the sequel comes out.

Uncharted 2 sets the bar ridiculously high, making other games look and sound amateurish by comparison. It's beyond gorgeous, extremely fun both online and off, and completely deserving of your time and money. Buy this game.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves / $59.99 / Reviewed on PS3

Thursday, October 22, 2009

.detuned Review

Though its consistent ability to bewilder makes .detuned amusing for awhile, its lacking feature set and limited scope causes it to run out of steam quickly.

.detuned is essentially an interactive music visualizer where you control a man in a suit sitting in a chair surrounded by some very weird, very happy little blue guys, a dolphin, and a giant rubber duck. As you play your own music, you can interact with the man through preset actions like making him dance around the chair or turning his head into a mushroom, a balloon, or an elephant, among other oddities. Nothing about .detuned even comes close to making any kind of sense, and that might just be the most attractive thing about it.

Initially, discovering each new and crazy preset action is a source of baffling enjoyment, but once it reveals its full hand, .detuned has nothing else to offer. It can't function without user input, so its potential to be an awesome music visualizer is squandered. There's no YouTube or replay support, so choreographing a music video is pointless. And after you've experienced all the different effects, (entirely possible during one three-minute song), there's just not a lot to do.

At every turn, .detuned is hurt by a complete lack of ambition. What could have been a fantastic and endlessly interesting application ends up being nothing more than a diversion for those with a few extra bucks and a taste for the weird.

.detuned / $2.99 / Reviewed on PS3

Friday, October 2, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum Review

Everything about Batman: Arkham Asylum goes way beyond what it needed to be to sell, resulting in an amazing game that impresses from beginning to end and has a ton of value.

There's something about being Batman that is just intrinsically fun, and Arkham Asylum captures that perfectly. Silently stalking enemies from the shadows, taking them out one by one, and watching their buddies panic is a never-ending source of amusement. Leaping from one foe to another, breaking bones along the way, and utilizing Batman's entire arsenal to build huge combos is consistently visceral and rewarding. And the delicious riddles and challenging puzzles that put lives on the line are an absolute joy to solve.

I cannot pay this game enough compliments for its presentation, its respect for the Batman universe, and its phenomenal voice acting, with Mark Hammil's reprisal of The Joker in particular standing out. The story mode is extremely well done, with lightning fast pacing that keeps the game fresh throughout, and the challenge mode is an addictive test of skill that had me hooked until I'd perfected every one. There's just so much to love about Arkham Asylum that it's hard to compliment one aspect without feeling like you've neglected to mention how well it excels elsewhere, too.

Somehow everything came together perfectly in Batman: Arkham Asylum, completely justifying the price tag with hours upon hours of fun gameplay and legitimately interesting extras.

Batman: Arkham Asylum / $59.99 / Reviewed on PS3