Category Archives: RPG

[Review] Crimson Alliance

Available on: Xbox 360; Publisher: Microsoft Studios; Developer: Certain Affinity; Players: 1 – 4; Released: September 7, 2011 (Steam); ESRB: Teen; Official Site

When looking back on the games that we remember, it’s always the most groundbreaking or well thought-out games that stand out the most. Games on the other end of the spectrum stand out as well, if only for the laughs that people get reminiscing about how low their standards were as children. Fortunately for Crimson Alliance, it does not fall into the latter category; unfortunately, it does not fall into the first either and merely rests in the realm of mediocrity.

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[Review] Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten (PS3)

Available on: PS3; Publisher: NIS America; Developer: NIS; Players: 1; Released: September 6, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official Site

Having never played a Disgaea game through, the latest game, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten was somewhat of a venture for me. The series has long gained a reputation for sucking players’ lives dry with its demand for level grinding and notorious replay value. After so many years dabbling with the likes of the Super Robot Wars and SD Gundam G Generation series, it was about time I stepped up to the challenge of training prinnies in Disgaea 4. Though difficult, the game didn’t have me running, but constantly kept me going with its cute characters and multitude of ways to combat the netherworld’s challenges.

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[Review] The Baconing (PS3)

Available on: Mac, PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Hothead Games; Developer: Hothead Games; Players: 1 – 2; Released: August 30, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official Site

The Baconing is the third game in the Deathspank series, the superhero trilogy from Hothead games, and it returns with some more of the action-RPG gameplay, wacky characters, and writing that fans have come to love. Despite being the third game already, The Baconing doesn’t became stale and is still a joy to play, provided that players can stomach its sometimes trying humor.

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[Review] Deus Ex: Human Revolution (PC)

Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Square-Enix; Developer: Eidos Montreal; Players: 1; Released: August 23, 2011; ESRB: Mature; Official Site

Eleven years after the original game came out, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is ironically set 11 years before the original. With a different publisher, Square-Enix, that undoubtedly has more Japanese roots and is more reknown for their static, yet emotion driven stories, it was definitely an awkward combination with Deus Ex’s open-ended world that constantly changed with the player’s actions. Thankfully, the Japanese publisher’s signature gameplay and storytelling hasn’t interfered with the western philosophy of design and left gamers with everything they could expect of a sequel.

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[Review] Dungeon Siege III – This Time, it’s Not Dungeon Siege II

Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360; Publisher: Square Enix; Developer: Obsidian Entertainment; Players: 1 – 4; Released: June 21, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official Site

Dungeon Siege III Shot 9

I’ve been a fan of Dungeon Siege since the first game came out, when I was hot in my exploration of swords and magic themed narratives. The open-ended feeling of the character development and geographic design let me spend many hours finding secret places with unknown and powerful monsters hoarding magnificent treasures. Dungeon Siege II heavily redesigned the gameplay to facilitate more linear character development, which at first felt constricting, but turned out to be a clever way to make the player focus on a goal.

Dungeon Siege III focuses the intense white-hot  narrative to make an action-oriented RPG that feels less like the original Dungeon Siege than some may be comfortable with,  but it is okay; beating up the bad guys is more fun when it is an activity rather than a process.

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[Review] Trenched – Out in the Trenches

Available on: Xbox 360; Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios; Developer: Double Fine Productions; Players: 1 – 4; Released: June 22, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official SiteTrenched Shot 2

With recent games, there’s been a slow trend towards combining different genres; at times, it may seem like an odd match, but come to work like a dream. Trenched throws together several genres like a hodgepodge of features, including shooting, mecha customization, and tower defense. Most people would look at this formula and already be turned off by the pitch of such a convoluted game. However, it is nowhere near convoluted in practice. If anything, it is a unique and enjoyable fusion that few have dared to experiment with before.

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[Review] Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax – Deceptively Long

Available on: Xbox 360; Publisher: Marvelous Entertainment; Developer: Marvelous Entertainment; Players: 1 – 4; Released: June 29, 2011; ESRB: Everyone; Official Site

Half Minute Hero Shot 1

Don't be fooled. She will be glad to take your money.

It’s always amazed me how people with full commitments, such as a job, girlfriend(s), and school, can still manage to power through a 50-something hour RPG. That is probably one of the reasons that casual games have begun to rise. These short bursts of gameplay allow people to have fun without really having to commit a large portion of their time to gaming. Originally released on the PSP, Half-Minute Hero and Xbox Live Arcade brethren, Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax, offer all the nostalgia and elements of a 90s RPG along with the short bursts of gameplay casual gamers love.

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[Review] The First Templar – Ranked First in Mediocre

Available on: PC, Xbox 360; Publisher: Kalypso Media; Developer: Haemimont Games; Players: 1; Released: May 12, 2011; ESRB: Teen ; Official Website

The First Templar is an action RPG based on the search for the Holy Grail. While this theme has been touched upon by film so many times to the point of being a simply boring topic, the topic hasn’t been visited by gaming as much. However, The First Templar is less about the Holy Grail and more about the journey and that is what makes it a fun and compelling adventure. Read the rest of this entry

[Review] Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga

Available on: Xbox 360; Publisher: Atlus; Developer: Larian Studios; Players: 1; Released: April 12, 2011; ESRB: Mature; Official Website

Divinity 2 Shot 9

Throughout history, dragons have always captured our imagination, whether it was through art, literature, or the cult-classic Dungeons and Dragons. Incidentally, Dungeons and Dragons is the western model for RPGs, filled with open-ended decisions that affect the game’s path. Along with other RPGs, both games in the Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga package follow this model closely, putting players into the boots and armor of a loyal/defiant/cocky/(insert adjective) dragon knight.

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[Review] Magicka/Magicka Vietnam – Great Balls of (insert element here)!

Available on: PC; Publisher: Paradox Interactive; Developer: Arrowhead Game Studios; Players: 1 – 4; Released: January 25, 2011/April 12, 2011; ESRB: Teen; Official Website

Without a large financial backing, indie games need to rely on innovation or simple, effective game design to get it critical acclaim. Curious gamers will always be on the lookout for that next Braid or Super Meat Boy, games that were able to capture the hearts of gamers and critics alike despite their humble roots. Magicka does a little of both, delivering an open-ended single player and extremely fun multiplayer experience.

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