Video Game Review: The Lone Ranger (NES)

I have never played The Lone Ranger for the original Nintendo but I went into this knowing nothing about the game and without having any expectations.

What I was really surprised to discover is that this is one of the greatest 8-bit action RPGs of all-time!

Seriously, no one talks about this game, I’ve never heard anything about it and because of that, I have to consider it a real hidden gem among the 600+ titles that were released for the system.

The thing that makes this game so great is that it employs multiple gameplay styles from bird’s eye view world traveling to side scrolling, vertical scrolling and first person shooter action levels. You fight in towns, on moving trains, in caves, in forts, in hotels, on mountains, in the desert and even get to fight on horseback in two different ways.

Man, this game is just cool as hell and a shitload of fun! It’s really damn difficult but it isn’t unbeatable. I did beat the game, even though it took some time, and it gave me a real sense of accomplishment unlike many games from the era that have really underwhelming endings. This game’s ending was pretty superb for the time.

There isn’t a dull moment or a boring mission. The game designers did a fantastic job at keeping every area of the game fresh and unique, always adding new twists and ways to play the game.

For the 8-bit era, this is close to a masterpiece. The only things working against it are a lack of maps in the first-person stages and frustrating controls that switch your weapon when you jump.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: other action RPGs and western games for the NES.

Video Game Review: Alien vs. Predator (PlayStation 3)

I was really excited when this came out because I love both Alien and Predator franchises and especially love when they come together. Well, maybe not in the movies but I always liked the Alien vs. Predator comics, as well as the video games before this one. That old Atari Jaguar game was great for the time.

This boasts good graphics, solid maps and the ability to play as a Predator, an alien or a human space marine. There are three different story routes and a lot of cool game play options.

One thing puts a real damper on this game for me though and that’s the overly complicated controls. I typically play as a Predator because why wouldn’t I? Predators are the friggin’ best and I can turn invisible and violently rip enemies to shreds with my knife gauntlet or blast them into smithereens with my shoulder cannon.

But that’s the problem. Predators can do too many awesome things that keeping track of it all, in the heat of battle, is sometimes difficult. Playing as an Alien xenomorph or a human isn’t that much easier either. Running around as a xenomorph can be very disorienting.

I think that this game was a good step in the right direction for what this needed to be but maybe it needed more refinement. And the learning curve to get the controls down is tough. One certainly can’t be ready to be thrown to the wolves after the weak and brief tutorial mission.

This is a lot of fun once you do get the hang of it though but it seems to lack in replayability.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Other Alien vs. Predator games and similar sci-fi/horror first person shooters.

Video Game Review: BioShock Infinite (PlayStation 3)

*I played the PlayStation 3 version. The game is also available on Xbox 360, Windows and OS X.

*Written in 2014.

Almost all of what I have read and heard about BioShock Infinite has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, by many it was considered hands down the game of the year in 2013. It was said to be a sequel that exceeded the greatness of the previous titles within its own franchise. People raved about the story, the graphics, the game play. All the hype and hoopla had me thinking that this was a very rare piece of perfection just waiting for me to pick it up and be enchanted by its very existence. Well… I f’n hated it.

I don’t know where to begin other than to say that this game was a mixture of two things, tedious chaos and excruciating boredom. Let me explain.

In regards to it being tedious chaos, when it wasn’t boring, it was just a redundant exercise in blasting waves upon waves of almost seemingly endless enemies. Some battles felt like they went on for days and frankly, I had to wonder what percentage of the town’s population in the game were armed officers of the law, as the in-game ratio of citizens to people shooting at you was about 10,000-to-1. And if they weren’t baddies on one side, they were baddies on the other side, as their was a revolution going on in the game. Differentiating between big brother fascists and revolutionary fascists was pointless and annoying. I just shot everyone, even the chick I was supposed to be protecting because she always happened to get in my way. I guess it is good that bullets seemingly just go through her like magic.

The truth is, this tedious bullshit also got boring. It was as if I was just doing the same bullshit over and over again and ultimately, I kept checking walkthroughs online. Not because I needed help but because I wanted to see how much longer I had to play this goddamned game.

The excruciating boredom came from the fact that often times, like the first two hours of the game, you are just walking around checking out the city. Also, there are just way too many items and things you can pick up throughout the game that you spend about two-thirds of your time searching desks and picking locks to discover more rooms with desks. I like treasure hunts but this just takes that shit too damn far.

As far as the story goes, people have talked it up like it is some amazing tale with a fantastic and mind-blowing ending. These people must spend most of their time taking drugs, drinking shit beer and ingesting monosodium glutamate. It wasn’t even engaging enough to make me want to finish the game. The twist at the end was bullshit and I really didn’t give a crap. The way it ties to the previous BioShock games just seemed like a weak cop out.

This game really just magnified everything that I hate about modern first-person shooters. And I loved the first two BioShock games. The level of sucktitude that this game exudes is painful to me. Well, at least from the rumors I hear, the next game will go back underwater. This Cloud City bullshit is for the birds… literally.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: BioShock and BioShock 2 but they are infinitely better, pun intended.

Video Game Review: Wolfenstein: The New Order (PlayStation 3)

*I played the PlayStation 3 version. The game is also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows.

*Written in 2014.

I have been a pretty huge fan of the Wolfenstein series since I discovered Wolfenstein 3D (the third game in the series) on one of my friend’s PC’s back in 1992. It introduced me to the first-person shooter genre and led to the great Doom series, also put out by the same publisher, id Software. In fact, both games are believed to exist in the same fictional world.

In 2000, I was blown away by the much improved game in the series Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Then in 2009, one of my favorite video games of all-time Wolfenstein was released. Yep, the 2009 installment, was simply called Wolfenstein. A sequel to that awesome game was inevitable and what we got was this year’s Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Let me start by saying that, in my eyes, this game had really big shoes to fill. I expected a lot from it because the last game was damned near perfect, they spent five years on development and they brought in Bethesda Softworks, who made the magnificent games Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, The Elder Scrolls series (most notably Skyrim), the Doom series (since 2012) and others.

This game is fun, it is exciting but it is not as fun and exciting as the 2009 game it follows. The graphics are killer, the plot is interesting enough but it seems to lack in spirit and ingenuity. It was a very straightforward game and was quick and easy to beat. It was also, at times, tedious. For instance, some missions just had you rummaging through your hideout or the sewers beneath to find random bullshit objects like keys and blowtorches. I found those missions to be distracting, pointless and boring as hell. They poorly broke up the heavy action sequences of the game, they really didn’t contribute to the overall story and after having destroyed a Nazi death camp, why am I the errand boy for the resistance, as opposed to one of the useless office monkeys?

The plot of the previous games were over the top but they had a light heartedness and didn’t take themselves too seriously. This game got more serious and suffered because of it. The fact that it got darker and more realistic didn’t allow it to flow naturally and it felt kind of silly at times, which wasn’t the intention. The point is, this is a story that can’t be taken realistically and when it is presented that way, it works against itself. The end result is that this game’s serious tone and brutality seemed to replace the campiness and adventure of what made the previous game so much fun. It felt like a poor recreation completely lacking any understanding of why the previous game worked so well.

Additionally, this game was missing that supernatural and occult element that encompassed all the previous games. 2009’s Wolfenstein dealt with a lot of really cool occult shit and the protagonist actually had a medallion that would allow him to move through different dimensions, which added an awesome element to the game that was reminiscent of what made the Soul Reaver games so unique and fun to play. This game was a straightforward shoot’em up and you were just shooting at Nazis and mecha the whole time. While that’s cool, I miss the demonic and mythical evil elements that tied this series to its sister, the Doom series.

The hero, B.J. Blazkowicz, felt like an entirely different character in this game and was missing the charm he had from the last one. He was just an angry brute with a hole in his heart and he wasn’t this likeable guy that he had always been previously. I always saw him as an Indiana Jones or Nathan Drake type and now he is like a generic background character in an Expendables movie.

It sounds like I am trashing this game but the truth is, I did enjoy it. It was more polished and a well executed game. It was also enjoyable and entertaining. The problem is, that being a sequel to an amazing game, regardless of its predecessor’s strengths, means that this needs to top it or at the very least, be on the same level. It fell short and that is why it will probably go onto my game shelf, most likely never to be touched again, where I play through the 2009 game just about once a year.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: The 2009 version of Wolfenstein, as well as this game’s sequels.