Cleaning House: Brink, Sly Cooper, Dead Nation, Scott Pilgrim, and A Crack in Time

Not sure how I didn’t think of this before! Every once in a while, I crack into a game that I don’t necessarily finish, don’t have a lot to say about, or simply don’t get around to writing a proper review about for a while. It sits in a queue and I look at that sticky note on my desktop every day thinking “I’ll get to it”. So here’s to spring cleaning and getting rid of those in one foul swoop with some quick thoughts.

Brink

This game was doomed from the start. One of the worst AIs to ever exist in a video game made this game’s online play essential to success. Unfortunately, it was released in the middle of the PSN shutdown, which effectively sidelined PS3 players since it also doesn’t have local co-op. In addition, online matchmaking revolved around the story missions without stand-alone modes and was nearly impossible to find in the menus.  On top of that, even if my brother, ranked lower than me, set matchmaking to allow all ranks, I wasn’t allowed to join his match until he ranked up, making this thoughtful Christmas gift a dud until he devotes some time on his own – a frustrating endeavor. While the objective-based gameplay was certainly a good idea, the bots were too dumb for you to be able to do it on your own.

The challenge mode was extremely thin. It boasted 12 challenges, but in actuality had four at three difficulty levels a piece. This was put to shame many years ago by the TimeSplitters series, notorious for dozens of challenges, each with a platinum ranking to be acquired.

So much potential – squandered. A blemish on Bethesda.

Bottom Line: 6/10


Sly Cooper and the Thevius Raccoonus

Picking up the HD collection, it was quickly apparent that Sly Cooper was platforming at its finest. Controls for this title are flawless, it looks pretty good in its upscaled form, and it’s quite simply fun. Sly climbs, battles and collects without missing a beat. While today it’s in a thick field of similar competitors, it was big for its day and is still polished better than most titles trying to do fancier tricks.

Bottom Line: 9/10


Dead Nation

Dead Nation was a pretty solid dual-stick shooter. The gameplay was fast-paced and fun with zombies coming from everywhere. The plot was terrible, but could be ignored to appreciate the point of the game: shooting zombies. Weapon varieties and upgrades were stellar as were the environmental strategies for dispatching the undead. Keeping track of worldwide progress in defeating the hordes of flesh-eaters on a country-by-country basis was also a neat feature. I assume Japan is still in the lead by quite a bit. I’m not a huge subscriber to the growing zombie market, and while Dead Nation isn’t making many strides, this title adds legitimacy to the market instead of fueling a potential shovel-ware pit for people to throw money at.

Bottom Line: 8/10


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

This beat-’em-up sidescroller took me back to Double Dragon II, which was a very good place to be. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a good sidescrolling brawler like this, and the choice of genre was likely a tip-of-the-cap to the comic book origins that the movie’s graphical style also paid homage to, reminiscent of a time when arcade games of this style were all the rage. This game is wicked hard, and I wouldn’t even attempt playing it without a buddy on the couch. There are several attack and gear upgrades as the game goes along, though these don’t make up for some difficulties in moving around – an aspect that isn’t particularly responsive to input. I’m refraining from scoring this one since I haven’t actually finished it, and probably won’t for a while since I require a friend to accompany me. That’s just how I roll.

Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time

This was actually my first adventure into the Ratchet and Clank universe. First off, the game is gorgeous. Ratchet looks fantastic and so do the environments. The gameplay is clean and responsive posing no issues. There are several upgrades that allow you to explore various planets with many things to offer, and the collectible Zoni on those planets feel worthwhile.

Clank’s aspect of the game is also excellent. The time-bending puzzles are fun, intuitive and a nice change of pace to the confrontation of Ratchet’s side of the story.

There are a ton of weapons, which is both good and bad. While most of them are fun to use, they are all pretty general-purpose. By-and-large, none are definitively more useful in certain situations, making the only reason to switch between them in most cases is the drive to upgrade them for the sake of upgrading them or running out of ammo with other weapons. Outside of this, the default blaster is versatile enough that cycling through the menu to equip something else is too much hassle to bother with.

And a personal note: I have to say that I would have bailed on bolts flying out of every patch of grass if I were Insomniac, as this can be very fruitful for the player, but distracting and hindering of the pace.

Bottom Line: 9/10

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