Brief Reviews of Recent Releases

[As Soon to be Read on GIO.]

Because with each passing day it is looking less and less possible that I will find the time to fully edit older review drafts or write new ones to publish, I am going to provide short reviews here that nail the high points of the games in question. Hell, maybe I throw in some movies I’ve watched as well. Anyway, here’s to being very busy and not even having time to procrastinate. I’ll try to find some free time elsewhere.

Mario Kart 8:

Overall Premise: Improve the series in many ways imaginable and as of yet not thought of.

Graphics and Sound: The visuals look excellent on the Wii U and are the best in the series so far. Sound is comprised of good track selection and audio accompaniment ambiance as well.

Playability and Entertainment: The gameplay is even more fun thanks to new twists and turns, literally at times. The controls work well on the standard controller.

Replay Value: Moderately High.

Overall Score: 9.0/10.0

Murdered: Soul Suspect:

Overall Premise: Solve a supernatural mystery murder…your own, in fact.

Graphics and Sound: The cinematic experience looks great in most aspects as do many character models. However, your own character doesn’t look as unique and the surroundings often feature the same bland color palette. The voice-work is pretty spectacular whereas the actually music is minimal and the ambiance sounds convincingly haunting.

Playability and Entertainment: The gameplay isn’t as well-handled as the story itself but it gets the job done. The story offers most of the entertainment as it is an interesting experience and somewhat of a better-quality version of something akin to Deadly Premonition mixed with Heavy Rain.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 7.5/10.0

The Wolf Among Us: Episode Five- Cry Wolf:

Overall Premise: Conclude the first season of the Fables-inspired episodic game series.

Graphics and Sound: The same semi-cell shaded and artistic visuals are found in this episode as the previous ones. The vice-work is still top notch and doesn’t feel as overused as it has before in Telltale’s episodic releases.

Playability and Entertainment: The quick-time events are exciting and fast-paced but still not of much difficulty and usually only take two tries at most to complete. The controls still work fine and the balance between action and thought is still present although this is one of the more action-packed episodes by far. Rather than answering most of your questions, no matter the outcome you have more at the end of the episode- for better or worse.

Replay Value: Moderately High.

Overall Score: 8.25/10.0

The Walking Dead: Season Two- Episode Four: Amid the Ruins:

Overall Premise: Clem and her group fights harder against each other than ever before and many factors other than the zombie horde threaten to split them apart.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics are essentially the Telltale standard for the series and have no noticeable differences for better or for worse. The voice-work still isn’t quite as good as that of The Wolf Among Us’ however it is quality work and the music that accompanies tense moments nails the mood.

Playability and Entertainment: Both the story and the tense moments progress naturally- as naturally as they can during a zombie apocalypse anyway. The entertainment has been amped up even more but everything still controls solidly.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

The Last of Us: Remastered Edition:

Overall Premise: Build upon the epic masterpiece released last year with a slight graphical update for new consoles and a few other tweaks and additional features.

Graphics and Sound: Truly phenomenal work all around.

Playability and Entertainment: The story is still entertaining and believable, the ending as simultaneously heart-achey and solid. The controls have been tweaked slightly and work even better to get the dirty jobs required done.

Replay Value: Very High.

Overall Score: 9.75/10.0

Madden NFL 15:

Overall Premise: Build upon the annual sports juggernaut by adding and taking away some features that do and don’t work.

Graphics and Sound: The visuals are definitely an upgrade from last year’s but the sound work still suffers from inconsistencies in play calling and commentary, despite sounding good quality wise.

Playability and Entertainment: For the most part it is well-controlled and a step up from the last title and as far as entertainment goes it gets the job done and is yet another fine-tuned experience on the whole.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

The Walking Dead: Season Two- Episode Five: No Going Back:

Overall Premise: Really a game-changer at this point- there are truly vastly different endings and a phenomenal amount of impact from the story thus far as well. Interesting to finally see so many things hit home hard.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics remain unchanged but the sound work steps up and comes up with a win in my book. The background music weaves a tale of its own and the voice-work hits all the right notes at the right times during tense and somber moments.

Playability and Entertainment: Controls fine once more and the entertainment value is through the roof here partly because of the explosiveness of some of the moments towards the ending(s).

Replay Value: Very High.

Overall Score: 8.75/10.0

Destiny:

Overall Premise: Halo x Call of Duty x Mass Effect x MMO Status.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics look great and the soundtracks are not only truly interesting to listen to but also memorable as well. A true testament to the work of so many talented artists together as far as tracks go.

Playability and Entertainment: The controls handle excellently and makeup for some less than savory moments during the game. The story is pretty basic but nonetheless an entertaining adventure, and the same can be said about the game as a whole. It merges most of the right elements between MMO and shooter and RPG genres.

Replay Value: High.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

Hyrule Warriors:

Overall Premise: Essentially a Legend of Zelda themed Dynasty Warriors game. Hell, we already had Gundam so why not, right?

Graphics and Sound: The visuals aren’t as striking as I expected but the number of characters onscreen at once makes up for that and the character design itself is pretty good. The sound effects are undoubtedly better than the soundtracks but that’s not to say the soundtracks are bad.

Playability and Entertainment: While most of the so-called story is repetitive as to be expected in Dynasty Warriors, the combat is adrenaline-filled and a journey I appreciated having the opportunity to take.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.0/10.0

Wasteland 2:

Overall Premise: Return to the apocalypse ala Fallout, but closer to the original Wasteland mixed with modern elements than anything else.

Graphics and Sound: The environments are truly impressive even if the overall graphics aren’t by any standards today. The sound work is superb to say the least.

Playability and Entertainment: The gameplay is heavily tactics-based and enjoyable nonetheless. There’s definitely strategy involved but the adventure isn’t an impossible one. The story and journey as a whole is definitely ingrained with wit and darkness in equal portions here and there.

Replay Value: High

Overall Score: 8.25/10.0

Tropico 5:

Overall Premise: By now your dictatorial duties haven’t evolved much but are still a last to fiddle around with as usual. Even more is open this time around.

Graphics and Sound: Visuals are pretty much the same they were the last time around, meaning they aren’t spectacular or bad. The sound effects and the music selection keep things fresh.

Playability and Entertainment: The controls aren’t so complex as to be unrecognizable to newcomers and veterans alike. The community building experience is definitely one of the best.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.0/10.0

Transistor:

Overall Premise: Just imagine what the minds behind a game such as Bastion can do and then play this game.

Graphics and Sound: The coloring of the environments offsets appropriately the setting and the overall awareness they provide means the colors don’t clash as you’d expect. The soundtrack is an interesting concoction.

Playability and Entertainment: There is some difficulty to be found in the gameplay but the need to discover more of the story makes the experience more than worthwhile at the end.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft:

Overall Premise: Digital Card Games x Warcraft to the greatest effect.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics look like Warcraft to be sure and the the sound effects to accompany cards are definitely…interesting at times throughout.

Playability and Entertainment: Definitely very accessible and entertaining to collect cards as you progress in skill.

Replay Value: High.

Overall Score: 9.25/10.0

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