Archive for awesome

Saints Row IV

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2013 by caseystorton

 

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-I’ve been majorly excited for this game for quite some time now. While Saints Row The Third had a bit of a mixed reception as some enjoyed it for what it was, a silly, over-the-top action romp, others criticized it for what it wasn’t, a game with a bit of wackiness sprinkled over a serious plot, much like what I’ve heard about Saints Row 2. The fourth entry in the series looked to be continuing the silliness trend from its predecessor, but with a well-needed dose of hindsight with how to improve itself after the last game.

-We start off with a basic tutorial mission that has you teaming up with Shaundi and Pierce from the past as well as MI6 agent Asha Odekar in the field and Matt Miller back at base. Matt being the leader of the cyber-punk Deckers gang from SR3 now having done a bit of growing up and moving over to join the good guys. You run through a basic assassination operation where you have to stop commander Cyrus Temple from launching a nuke at Washington D.C. Afterwards, you land in the oval office and put up your feet. Five years later, you’re the president, with plenty of friends, old and new, to help you out with your new duties as Commander in Chief. As president, you really only make a couple of major decisions, some important…

Image-…and some world changing.

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-That doesn’t really last long, though, as not long after the earth is invaded by aliens. After a brief bit of you fighting them off, you and all of your on-hand crew (the four from earlier plus Benjamin “Motherfucking” King from SR1, Kinzie from SR3, and famous actor Keith David, who’s also your Vice President) are abducted by the evil alien overlord Zinyak. Next thing, you wake up in a 50s sitcom called “Leave it to the Saints” complete with a new outfit, although my previously created character kept some souvenirs from the outside world.

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-After messing around a bit, you break what turns out to be a simulation, and Zinyak drops you into a simulated version of Steelport from SR3, only now the Saints have no presence, and he runs the show. You soon gain the ability to escape and reunite with Kinzie and Keith. Then Zinyak blows up Earth. You may call that a spoiler, but it happens about two hours into a game that I spent about 19 hours on, so whatever. Now, your job is to use the simulation to mess with Zinyak’s systems and join up with the old crew again to avenge the Earth. Considering the not all that impressive narrative of SR3, 4 is a very pleasant step up. The story sees you fighting the Zin Empire any way you can as you attempt to reunite with your crew to show Zinyak why you don’t fuck with the Saints. There’s some very cleaver and well-done writing all throughout the game that actually sells you on the experience, rather than just being the glorified framework that we were given in SR3.

Image-The gameplay in Saints Row 4 is easily its greatest strength, and it’s easily one of the most raw, no bullshit, straight-up fun games that I have ever played. Through a bit of sci-fi technical jargon, Kinzie is able to harness loose pieces of code in the simulation that give you superpowers. Yes, superpowers. It starts off simple with just super speed and the ability to jump really high, but progression and upgrades net you some really awesome powers, from freeze blasts, anit-gravity ground pounds, mind control, running on water, telekinesis, and so many more.

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-The rest of the game has so much variety that I don’t even know where to start. There’s a few mainstay activities, but plenty have been added or at least altered to fit the new play-style more appropriately. There’s Crackdown style orb hunting for the code clusters that let you upgrade your powers, there’s destruction-derby style mayhem missions like before, but the new powers and vehicles make them feel fresh and new again. Then there’s the biggest source of variety, the side missions with your crew. Much like Mass Effect, once you acquire new crew mates, you can take them on loyalty missions to give them new abilities, in this case giving them superpowers when they join you in the simulation. Including *drum roll please* JOHNNY GAT!!!! Now, I haven’t played Saints Row 1 and 2, so I wasn’t quite as broken by his death at the beginning of SR3 as longtime fans were, but that awesome motherfucker saved my life in that game, and having him on hand to kill some aliens and avenge planet Earth felt completely right. 

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-Before you can do the loyalty missions, though, you have to rescue your friends, which is done by jumping into their personal simulations and breaking them out, which is usually completely different from anything else in the game. You see, each simulation represents the person’s worst fears realized, and each nightmare is presented in totally unique ways, from an old school text adventure

Image-to a battle with a giant monstrous soda can

Image-to a sidescrolling beat-em-up, with plenty of others making due with just giving you new things to do with the normal gameplay engine

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-Before I drift too far away from Mass Effect, there’s also a hilarious take on the Mass Effect “Romance” system, that allows you to have hilariously varied, and on exactly one occasion, an actual emotional personal encounter with the other members of your crew.

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-There is so much that I could talk about with this game, if I go on too much longer we’ll be here all day, so I’ll try to wrap things up. Saints Row 4 is absolutely fantastic. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and it’s lasting. There are some minor complaints, like the lacking difficulty if you pursue the super-power upgrades and the uselessness of vehicles once you get the super speed and jump, but it’s a great game with tons of value for your money. You will most certainly need to be familiar with a lot of the Saints Row back-story to “get” some of the finer points of the narrative, but that really doesn’t matter when the game is this much fun.

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Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2013 by caseystorton

Image-A little late? Maybe, but I’ve kinda been putting this review off for a while now. I finished the game a few days ago, but I still wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. Anyway, Blood Dragon started off appearing as an April Fool’s joke, but was eventually leaked and later officially confirmed by Ubisoft to be the real deal. An interesting thing about this game is that it isn’t a piece of downloadable content like many had speculated, but rather a stand-alone game for the low price of $15. So I thought, why not check it out?

-Our story takes place in the dystopian future that is the year 2007. A decent chunk of the world has been nuked to shit, and now we’re on some island somewhere. You take control of Cyber Commander Rex Powercolt, voiced by semi-forgotten 80s action guy Michael Biehn (Aliens, Terminator, Planet Terror). Basically there’s this big bad motherfucker named Sloan that’s trying to take over the world (of course!) and it’s up to Rex to stop him. While the story does rely very heavily on long cut-scenes to explain its narrative, the actual plot and style of said cut-scenes are funny enough that I’m willing to forgive the overlong delivery of some story cinematics.

Image-The gameplay is very similar to that of Far Cry 3, with many of the mechanics like performing melee take-downs to instantly kill unaware foes and the radial weapon selector intact. There are a few minor changes that all serve to streamline the experience to make it fit better for a project of this scope. The leveling system is now completely linear, with new abilities granted automatically upon leveling up. Syringes are entirely absent, with the exception of health syringes, but I didn’t actually think about that until now, as I never really made a point to use syringes in the original Far Cry 3. There are also far fewer weapons, with attachments unlocked through side-missions rather than simply purchasing them, but this actually wasn’t really an issue, as you get every gun for free, and the sci-fi look and feel of some of the weapons encourages experimentation.

Image-Something you may or may not be wondering about is the origin of the game’s subtitle “Blood Dragon.” Well, Blood Dragons are in-game enemies that roam around the island attacking anything and anyone that they come across. Fighting the dragons is never easy, even once you unlike the intentionally overpowered fuck-off laser thing for the last mission, the dragons can still present a slight-challenge if you don’t aim for their weak spot.

Image-From a visual standpoint, the game has a very fun sense of style to it. Everything is very hazy and dark, with bright, blinding lights coming off of the Blood Dragons and humanoid enemies to present the overly glowy aesthetic of an early-80s sci-fi movie. The loading screens feature some of the funniest “tips” that I’ve ever read, and the tutorial literally had me laughing out loud at the silliness of it all. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is one slick looking game.

Image-Overall, Blood Dragon is a great little distraction. The main story can be completed in about 4 hours ignoring side-quests and collectibles, but for only $15, that’s not bad considering what you’re paying for. 91/100

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Far Cry 3

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2013 by caseystorton

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-This right here is the reason that I didn’t finish Bioshock Infinite sooner. You see, I was on Spring Break last week, and I was scheduled to work 38 hours that week at my old job. However, I only had this game at home, and I couldn’t take it back to college with me, so it got most of my attention even after Infinite came out. But was it worth it?

-You play as Jason Brody, one of a group of 7 kids right out of college who are on a sky diving trip or something out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean somewhere. Basically, you get captured by some crazy pirate slaver named Vaas. After a bit of intense scenes with Vaas, you and your older brother Grant manage to escape from your cage. After a bit of stealthing around the camp followed by Grant’s death at the hands of Vaas, you escape and wash up in a nearby village run by a resistance group that’s fighting Vaas’s organization. You and the village leader Dennis start working to get your friends back, but as time goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that Jason will have to lose a big part of himself in order to get his friends back and destroy Vaas’s organization once and for all. For a game like this, there’s a surprising amount of weight to Jason’s character development. It’s clear that he knows he’s slowly turning into a bloodthirsty monster, but thinks that maybe this is the only way he can get what he wants.

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-On the gameplay side, Far Cry 3 is a lot of fun to play around with. There are a lot of RPG elements to the game’s progression, but they feel very central to the design, so it makes sense that they have the opportunity to take up so much of your time. A big part of the game’s progression involves hunting animals in order to acquire the  skins necessary to upgrade all of your various holsters for ammo, weapons, syringes, ect. On the note of the syringes, a big thing about Jason’s character is that, while he’s always been a bit of a daredevil, all of this stuff has him very much scared out of his mind from the beginning, and he must eventually grow into his role as action hero by way of constant, life threatening danger and taking a whole lot of drugs. Yes, really.

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-While the story progression never really stops, you’ll want to take a break from it every now and again in order to make progress in other ways. Areas on your map aren’t visible until you’ve activated a radio tower in the vicinity, so it pays to run around and just activate all the radio towers pretty early on so the entire map is visible. There’s also the continuing mechanic of liberating outposts from enemy control by killing all of the inhabitants. While it is possible to eventually win by simply running in and shooting everything in sight, you get a significant XP bonus for clearing it out before the enemy sees you. Sometimes, though, this can lead to some rather strange occurrences. On at least two separate occasions, I was crouch-walking around outside of an outpost, marking all of the enemies so I could keep track of them, and just when I was about the move in a freaking tiger strolls on in and murders everyone in sight. It is a little weird, but the random, uncontrolled nature of this sort of thing is a nice change from the over-orchestrated set-pieces of games like Call of Duty and Battlefield.

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-Overall, Far Cry 3 is a great game. It’s got plenty of fun, open-world action and randomness and a surprisingly personal and engaging main-character arc for Jason Brody. It’s a great value for what you’re getting, and the open world means plenty of collectibles for those that desire them. 89/100

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2013 by caseystorton

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-I’m starting to get just a little bit embarrassed by how long it normally takes me to put out a game review. The thing is, I usually just play whatever game I feel like playing that day, whether or not it’s something I’ve reviewed already or something that I should probably get to at some point depends largely on the day. That said, I’ve currently got several games in progress (this, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Serious Sam 3: BFE, The Walking Dead, F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin), and thought I’d devote some time to a “First Impressions” of the one that I knew would take me the longest to finish.

-The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings centers around Geralt of Rivia, a “Witcher” who is assigned to protect the king is Temeria from harm during a battle with some rebels. After a battle the king gets offed by a professional assassin and Geralt is blamed for it, forcing him to go on the run and pursue the king’s real murderer. It seems like a pretty standard plot, but I can already tell that there’s a lot more to this story than there initially appeared to be, with plenty of side characters and plot diversions to keep the pace going.

Image-Probably my favorite thing about the first few hours that I’ve played is the combat. I’ve heard some people complain about the difficulty, but really, it’s not a hard game. I’d heard some people mention the controls, so I went through the tutorial once with the mouse-and-keyboard and once again using an Xbox 360 controller, and while the keyboard setup doesn’t exactly have any major issues, I’m thankful that the game was designed with a controller in mind. Really though, the combat isn’t hard if you know what you’re doing. You can sort-of get away with simply charging into battle slamming the light attack button like a moron on Easy difficulty, but Normal difficulty requires at least a little bit of discipline to play. You need to effectively pick your targets, know when to block, dodge, counter, throw bombs, cast magic, enhance your sword, or drink potions in order to survive a fight. On the topic of potions, you can only drink potions before battle, which isn’t really an issue, as at least so far, combat happens in continuous bursts, and the first fight is never the hardest, giving you plenty of time to stop and drink a potion before heading to the next battle. The only real problem I have is with the targeting system, which doesn’t always work quite as well as I want it to, but a quick dodge or parry is usually enough to get me out of any bad situation the targeting got me into.

Image-I can already tell that the branching dialogue options will lead me through a long, well written, and very worthwhile story just by the huge variance each option has from the others. The dialogue isn’t really something that can be adequately explained, as it largely revolves around what you as a player want to do and who you want Geralt to work with. Major side-note, if you don’t have a relatively high-level gaming PC, just go ahead and buy the Xbox 360 version instead, because this is a very demanding game. For my more tech-savvy readers, I’m running it on an MSI gaming laptop with an i7 2.3 GHz processor, 8 gigabytes of RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M with 2 gigabytes of DDR5 video memory. This is what my current settings are, and keep in mind I tweak a couple settings every time I boot up the game, and I experienced some minor drops in frame rate during the cut-scenes last time I played:

Image-It takes a LOT to run this game, so don’t think that just because the game is nearly two years old that it won’t take a powerful machine to run it on full settings.

-So far, I’m really enjoying The Witcher 2. The combat is fun, the story shows lots of promise, and the lack of hand-holding is incredibly refreshing for a modern RPG. Sure, the inventory screen is a bit weird, and the visuals may put a strain on your rig, but I’ll go ahead and give it an early recommendation. Also, there’s lots of sex in it.

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Borderlands 2

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2012 by caseystorton

-When this game was announced way back when, I was quite excited. I really enjoyed the original Borderlands, even in spite of its few glaring missteps, including the nonexistent story, annoying interface, and occasionally repetitive missions. Now that the sequel has arrived, I can tell you all about how awesome it is.

-Things pick up a few years after the original Borderlands with four new main characters to serve as protagonists. We have Maya the Siren, Zero the Assassin, Axton the Commando, and Salvador the Gunzerker. They each have their own special abilities to complement different play styles. Maya can trap enemies in a Phase Lock which suspends them in midair and keeps them from attacking. Axton can deploy an auto-turret that goes after enemies and takes the attention away from the player. Zero can turn invisible, leaving a hologram of himself behind and dealing more damage when he exits his invisibility. And finally Salvador can enter a super mode that allows him to dual-wield two guns at once.

-The plot centers around Hansome Jack, the CEO of the Hyperion corporation who is currently recharging the Vault key from the first game to try opening some other vault that contains a crazy monster that he will use to wipe out every living thing on Pandora that he doesn’t like. Already, I can feel anyone who’s reading this mentally tuning out under the pretense that this is going to but another story like Borderlands 1. The thing is, Borderlands 1 didn’t have a story, it had a goal. The goal was to get to the end and open the vault. That’s it. Sure, there were people that may or may not help you with that, but the primary objective is exactly the same in the beginning as it is at the end. Borderlands 2 has, by contrast, a fantastic story. As the story goes on, the stakes continue to get higher and higher, with one of the most uncompromising game stories I’ve seen in a long time. In the original, the closest thing to an antagonist was the leader of the Atlus Corporation who talks to you once or twice over the phone, asking you to please stop doing what you’re doing. Hansome Jack talks to you continuously all throughout the game. At first he’s pretty funny, but as the game went on and Jack killed more and more people that I cared about, I started out-right hating him. At first he seems like a ruthless killer with a sense of humor, but by the end of it he turns into a disgusting, heartless monster, and I desperately wanted him to die. Slowly, painfully, die.

-Now that we’ve discussed the complete 180 that is the story in Borderlands 2, let’s move onto the gameplay. The game mostly plays like a regular FPS with a few RPG elements. The challenge system from the first game which granted EXP bonuses for things like killing 100 human enemies, firing 100,000 bullets, and so on, has been replaced with a new system that grants “badass tokens” which you can spend on buffs like increased gun damage, shield capacity, accuracy, ect. It’s a nice new addition that adds another layer to progression that’s aimed at giving players more to strive for after they reach the maximum level, which is a nice touch.

-The biggest question recently when word of a sequel to an acclaimed original surfaces is always people wondering whether or not the sequel will be different enough and bring enough innovation to the table to warrant its own existence. In this regard,  Borderlands 2 more than justifies its existence. Even if they could condense the plot enough to sell this adventure as DLC, all of the changes in gameplay coupled with the new and improved gun models, gameplay alterations, and yes, even more new types of guns, Borderlands 2 innovates more in 1 game than Call of duty has in 5, and that’s a fact.

-The best thing about Borderlands 2 is the way that it makes amends for all of the issues from Borderlands 1. Claptrap no longer annoys you with missions you don’t care about, the interface is a little easier to navigate, and would you believe,they managed to give the original a story! No seriously, we hear some back-story over the course of the game, mostly from returning characters, about who wanted The Vault open, why, what they needed out of it, and how it all has an impact on what’s happening here in Borderlands 2. I don’t think I’ve ever played a sequel that actually managed to make the original better.

-At the end of the day, Borderlands 2 is a fantastic game. I consider it the best game to be released this year, and one of the best sequels I’ve ever played. It’s tons of fun, and it’s got a fantastic story to boot. So go ahead, buy it, there’s no need to wait and see how other people like it, because it’s just a great game. 93/100

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Katawa Shoujo

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2012 by caseystorton

-Before we begin, let me just say that I’m having trouble when it comes to classifying exactly what Katawa Shoujo (loosely translated to “Disability Girls”) really is. You see, this blog is specially designated to review games, and I’m having trouble accepting that Katawa Shoujo is truly a game. Okay, yes, it has player input used to advance the plot, an options menu, a save function, most things that generally come with a video game, but it doesn’t really have any gameplay strictly speaking. The entire experience is communicated through scrolling text that you click through with some very rare choices that you have to make as a player that can and will have lasting effects on the story. If I were to call it a game, I’ve often heard it classified as a visual novel, which makes me want to classify it more as a sort-of choose your own adventure story. But whatever you choose to call it, Katawa Shoujo is not an experience that you want to miss.

-Basically, you “control” a high school boy by the name of Hisao Nakai who is diagnosed with a heart problem that the doctors call Arrhymia, meaning that his heart has a tendency to beat irregularly if he overexerts himself. With this new revelation his parents decide to transfer him to Yamaku Academy, a private high school designed to accommodate students with physical disabilities. As the story unfolds, the player is given a number of different choices that affect various things in the game. Basically, you see those girls in the picture up top? After about an hour or two of playtime you will be on your way to a serious relationship with one of these girls. Each one has their own unique reason for being at Yamaku, but the game emphasizes not simply judging them based on their disability.

-There’s Hanako, the very shy girl that likes to read a lot. She has burn scars on about 50% of her body.

-Emi, the peppy, happy, and athletic girl that has prosthetic legs.

-Rin, the cynical girl who’s much more confrontational about her disability than others who has no arms.

-Shizune, the competitive and hard-working student council representative who’s deaf and uses her quirky interpreter Misha to communicate with others.

-And finally there’s Lilly, the proper and sophisticated girl that has a measure of thoughtfulness to her every move and the only friend Hanako has, who is blind. As of this writing, I’ve only played through the game once. In this first playthrough I answered all of the questions throughout the course of the game as I would if I were in Hisao’s position. After the first couple of acts or so, the game decided to match me up with Lilly. Suffice it to say, they made the right choice.

-The rest of the game from here on out is like a sort-of anime high school dating sim the likes of which the world has never seen. Much more-so than in any other game that I have ever played, I genuinely cared about Lilly and Hisao and really wanted to see how everything would turn out. According to a friend of mine that played the shit out of this game when it was new, there are 8 endings per girl, and the whole way through I really wanted to make sure that Hisao and Lilly had a happy ending. I won’t spoil what I ended up getting, but I’ll have you know that I was crying like a little girl by the end of it all, and I am not ashamed to admit it. Katawa Shoujo absolutely blows every other game that I’ve ever played out of the water in terms of how well it got me attached to the characters and how deeply invested I was in the game’s story. Sure, I’ve played a few games that had their moments, but I’ve never played a game that made me feel for it nearly as much as Katawa Shoujo did.

-Katawa Shoujo works so well as a written work that it seems like the visual end of this visual novel would suffer at the hands of all the work that went into making the story so complex and engaging. Nothing could be farther from the truth. All the way through, the animation is absolutely beautiful, with amazingly well drawn characters and backgrounds that have just enough detail to make you take a second look without distracting from the game. The soundtrack is also top-notch with just the right music always coming in at just the right times to create just the right effect. When it all comes together, it’s a downright amazing experience.

-Basically, I’ve never experienced anything like Katawa Shoujo ever in my life and I doubt that I ever will again, at least not for a long long time. As I said, this being difficult to even classify as a game, I’m having difficulty figuring out just how to critique such a thing. So, here’s my solution, I won’t. Like it or not, this game will get no rating from me. You may call it a cop-out, but once you play the game, you’ll understand why. And if you somehow haven’t caught my drift yet, you need to experience Katawa Shoujo. Seriously, here’s the link:  http://katawa-shoujo.com/download.php you’ll need to download Utorrent first, but come on. It’s completely free, there’s nothing else like it, and it’s just downright amazing. Go download it. RIGHT NOW.

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X-men Legends

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2012 by caseystorton

-I first played this one a few years ago when my younger brother got it as a birthday present for the Gamecube. I really liked it at the time, and my lack of access to disposable income meant that I ended up replaying it several times over. I did eventually tire of it and trade it in. That was probably about four years ago. I managed to stumble upon a copy for the PS2 not long ago and decided that it was time for another trip down memory lane for the sake of a review.
-We begin with a newscast telling us that a teenage girl named Alison has been identified as a mutant and that the Genetic Research and Security Organization, or G.R.S.O. for short, has responded. Before long, however, Mystique and Blob show up to kidnap the girl. Wolverine tries to stop them. Alison gets mad and fires shoots out everywhere. Wolverine gets up and gives chase. As the game progresses we encounter more villains, interesting new locations, and unlock new characters to play as, which keeps the game from getting too repetitive.

-The gameplay is what I’d loosely call an isometric action game, although the camera is occasionally under your control. The focus is on using the various different characters and their specific abilities to build the best possible team with the right tools for anything that the game can throw at you. Each character has an energy bar that goes below their health bar and dictates how many special moves that they can do. Special moves are all quite different from character to character, with plenty of ranged attacks, heavy punches, hypnosis moves, telekinesis, and many others to suit any play style.

-There are always four X-men in your party at any given time, with drop in/drop out co-op for up to four players. The game is best played co-op, as when playing alone, the A.I. is very fixated on you, without giving too much attention to your allies, which generally means that your character will gain the most experience, and take the most damage. On the subject of experience, the game has a nice R.P.G. element wherein you get experience and level up from killing enemies and completing mission objectives. Level ups reward you with one point to spend upgrading special abilities and one point to spend upgrading physical attributes like melee damage, health, defense, and agility. The mutant power upgrades vary pretty well from character to character, and give a good sense of progression to the gameplay. While there are a couple of characters that aren’t quite as powerful as others, such as Jubilee for example, there are still plenty of characters with plenty of strengths and weaknesses to allow you to create a perfectly balanced team where every character has something to do. Side note, if you want to win, always, always, always have Wolverine with you. As we all know, his mutant power is his ability to rapidly heal himself. This makes him the only character in the whole game with regenerating health, whereas all other characters have to rely on heath packs for their healing needs. Going further into the strengths and weaknesses, different enemies have resistances to different kinds of attacks, including Physical, Energy, and Mental resistances.

-Not everything is perfect here, though. Since four characters have to be on screen at all times, the camera occasionally screws up and doesn’t let you fix it. The difficulty curve fluctuates much more than I would have liked, and sometimes progressing in a level is a bit more cryptic than it should be. On the whole, though, it’s hard not to have a great time with X-men Legends. 8/10

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