Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Action Game Roundup

Lately I’ve been playing a shitload of hyper difficult action games and I’ll be reviewing a few of them shortly, I can’t promise each of these reviews will be super in depth but I will at least review the best of them (Bayonetta, which despite some irritating features I’m now addicted to) to a lengthy degree. These games are: Devil May Cry 3 SE, 4, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, Batman Arkham Asylum (might not review this for a bit, sort of a corollary; obviously not as hard as the other games in the list), and Bayonetta.

Just to give you a general idea of forthcoming opinions I will summarize what I think of each game here. In terms of action games in general I tend to think God of War II is the best and the original isn’t far behind, they have a pretty solid difficulty without being overly oppressive and ripping off lots of dudes heads is just superbly satisfying. Resident Evil 4 is probably better still but I’ll leave that out of the discussion and label it as a “Shooter” instead. Super Metroid is also better and possibly the best game ever made (at least according to EGM circa 2000, one of the best top games lists I’ve ever seen) but again it’s kind of an exploration game to go with the action. What I mean by “action game” in this context is 3 dimensional platformer/murderfest where melee attacks tend to be the most powerful thing and there’s probably at least some QTEs involved.

DMC 3 Special Edition is a very good game, though it’s still a very odd feel when you first try it out, despite starting out much better than every other game in the series. Once you get used to it it feels very natural though as is the same with every DMC and Bayonetta there’s a little too much button mashing. The fights with Vergil remain the best Human vs. Human fights in any action game out there, it’s just a shame not all of the bosses are that good.

DMC 4 is sort of like a hybrid clone of God of War (with the “Fuck you button”) and original DMC, as the new character uses super grab moves to do ridiculous amounts of damage. You’re still not fighting humanoid looking creatures and their heads don’t explode (or become magic spells for you) so it falls well short of GoW but I guess it was a nice attempt. The game is easy to play with Nero and relatively difficult with Dante, despite having Dante as an absurdly hard boss fight that you pretty much have to cheese in some way to win (though thinking about theoretically beating it without snatch is always fun).

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Black Edition Special Edition Totally Not Ninja Gaiden 1 Theta Omega Blah is a fairly difficult game at first but having played the original (original) I gradually figured out how to murder everything with relative ease on normal difficulty. If anything the hardest parts of this game are right near the start when you have crappy weapons and a low health bar, as you go on you get better weapons and learn how to use them much better and get much better at dodging. Everything sort of just falls over at that point assuming you’re using the right set-ups, I murdered almost every boss on the first try after about the midway point (though it took me 20 times to beat one particular early boss). This makes harder difficulties more an extreme annoyance as you’re forced to use cheap moves repeatedly to survive against hordes of regular enemies and still have a pretty good feel for boss fights. It remains the “smoothest” feeling action game around, if there’s one thing Team Ninja provides aside from voyeuristic boob jiggles it is smooth gameplay.

Arkham Asylum doesn’t exactly fit in this list plus I haven’t played it in quite some time but just for comparison’s sake I bring it up. This game is the only action game I’ve ever played where the combat system is absolutely flawless and there is *always* a right and wrong choice to make in the midst of a heated battle. There’s no button mashing unless you want to get massacred and just before every punch time slows for a few tenths of a second and gives you a perfect view of your surroundings to determine the next move. It feels odd at first but once you get the hang of it you’ll start having awesome combo chains and fights with otherwise bland enemies become quite entertaining. The only big issue with this game is that most of the bosses are very easy, however the storyline easily annihilates every other game on this list so I think that’s okay.

Bayonetta is arguably the hardest game of this bunch, though only because of Alfheim portals and the utter lack of health drops. Alfheim portals are basically secret missions and are really fucking annoying the first time around, though instead of having to be perfect doing something for 30 seconds it’s being almost perfect for 2-5 minutes with very few gimmicks involved (mostly just fight under certain conditions). The game basically stresses being flawless or near flawless in every chapter and shits on you for using items (though I used plenty for the first go around, stone awards be damned), though ultimately you’ll mostly continue from insanely fast instadeath QTEs that take quite a while to get used to.

However, having played it for another 25 hours past the first playthrough I am now enamored by the combat system, even though there are occasional camera issues and the harder difficulty Alfheim Portals will still take 50+ tries sometimes. It has humorous characters to go with a silly storyline, basically a DMC storyline except better, nothing compared to Arkham Asylum but enjoyable enough that I sometimes rewatch cutscenes.

Aside from that Dark Souls is coming out on October 4th and I will be playing it online for around a month and will post weekly impressions. I may also do a preview post suggesting what could or could not happen with it to make it better (fine line between extremely difficult yet still fair and straight up bullshit deaths). I must say this trailer is easily the best one I’ve ever seen for a game though.

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