Hydrophobia seemed as though it would be something new and refreshing for the Xbox Live Arcade selection that has seemed to stagnate over the past few months. Even the game’s title, referring to the irrational fear of water, was puzzling to me. Elements of psychological and survival horror called out to me and sang a chilling tune as I made my way deeper into its world. And as I attempted to infiltrate the massive Queen of the World ship in order to get to the bottom of a bizarre terrorist attack, I slowly began to realize that the combination of mediocre voice acting, iffy controls, and frustrating mechanics were hampering the experience too much to keep it fresh. With a heavy heart, I sat down to pen this review, lamenting the wasted potential of what could have been a much more engaging adventure.
Archive for October, 2010
Gears of War may not be perfect, but darn if I don’t love it. There’s something undeniably entertaining about intense chainsaw duels and pumping aliens full of lead. I wouldn’t touch its multiplayer with a ten foot pole, but the campaign and its co-op play keep me entranced. With that mindset, I assumed I would absolutely love Tecmo’s Quantum Theory, a me-too third-person shooter with most — if not all — of its gameplay mechanics ripped straight from the Xbox 360 powerhouse. Let’s just say that I was wrong.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I can very easily apply that old chestnut to the likes of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the latest outing for the series and a reboot that trades in series tradition for a shiny God of War-like overhaul and the time-tested methods of “hit it, hit it again, and hit it some more.” It’s lush, visually appealing, and a decent play. But as far as “reinventing” the series goes, I have to say that I was expecting an update with a little more “oomph.” Do developers need to resort to turning everything into a brawler to keep it fresh? That’s debatable. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a decent adventure here and one that I’d recommend for players who enjoyed Dante’s Inferno or any of the “me too” slashers released in the past couple of years. The bottom line is I’m not convinced this is really even Castlevania. This is…something else entirely.
I may not have had a chance to experience the wonders of the Dreamcast during my childhood (I am now!), but I certainly was the proud owner of a Sega Genesis. And of course, I had many a Sonic the Hedgehog release. I never could master them completely, but the characters, the colors, and the pure speed kept me coming back. Mmm, sweet speed. To this day, that’s still my favorite thing about the original series of classic Sonic games. They feel “right.” Sure, sometimes finding the right way to go without jumping into a pit of spikes is infuriating, but so is a one-hit kill as a small Mario.
Let’s get one thing straight. The Kingdom Hearts universe is pretty convoluted — so much, in fact, that even though I’ve played through most of the “main” entries in the saga, I’m still not exactly sure what’s going on. Perhaps that’s why I found Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep to be such a refreshing and entertaining play. It’s familiar, yet improved in ways that change the series formula up beautifully and technically, you needn’t be a diehard Kingdom Hearts fan to enjoy the narrative that’s laid out in such a fascinating, action packed, and touching adventure that I would recommend to any fan of the franchise in a heartbeat. It’s not perfect — what game rarely is? — but, well, it’s got a lot of heart.