So… Is It Good?

A blog featuring the various writings of E. H. Lau.

Archive for February, 2011

Another Attempt At Unleashing The Force (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Review)

Posted by cyberpfalcon on February 14, 2011

Recently, my friend got me Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II for the PS3 (thanks, Robin!). And…, I finished it in 8 hours. The main story (both light side and dark side endings) and just passing the extra challenges only took 8 hours… If I had bought this at full retail price like I did with the first The Force Unleashed, I’d be angry. In fact, now that I look back, I was upset about how short the first game was too, as good of a game as it was. This game, however, doesn’t get to use the excuse of being a short but good game, because this game is basically the first game with the smallest of changes, a story that is barely satisfying, and is actually a bit shorter than the first game.

Let’s just get this out of the way first, does Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II live up to any of the hype? No, no it doesn’t. Is the Force unleashed this time? No. What about the exciting story of finding out if Starkiller is a clone? YOU NEVER FIND OUT (before anyone says anything, in my opinion, the extra cutscenes that are not part of the main game don’t prove anything, Darth Vader could be lying, and that could have been a clone too)! Having two lightsabers instead of one this time should be awesome, right? No, it doesn’t make lightsaber combat different from the first game at all, in fact, I’m pretty sure that all of his lightsaber combos are EXACTLY THE SAME! Boy…, this series is really bad at living up to it’s hype…

The story is about Starkiller (or his clone, you never find out) escaping from Darth Vader again, and searching for Juno, his love interest from the last game. Along the way, he meets up with the Rebels and… that’s really it. There’s not much to the story, but I suppose it does its job.

In terms of gameplay, there are a few tiny little differences, but otherwise, it feels exactly like the first game. First, there is the addition of Starkiller in free-fall, where he’s dodging obstacles. Fun, but nothing significant. Second, they removed the Lightning Shield power and replaced it with the Jedi Mind Trick… Granted, the Jedi Mind Trick is interesting, allowing you to either make enemies jump to their deaths or turn against their allies temporarily. However, in my opinion, the Jedi Mind Trick gets boring quickly, and while the Lightning Shield wasn’t the greatest power on Earth, it was Starkiller’s unique power and no other Jedi had used it before. Third, the upgrading system has been simplified, the only thing you can upgrade now are Force powers, gone is the need to upgrade your Saber combos or things like Health or Defense. This third difference is probably the only significant upgrade from the first game that’s worth mentioning, because it makes lightsaber combat a lot less tedious in the early stages in the game, as it means that you start off with most of your lightsaber combos already, and you don’t have to purchase basic ones.

Do note though, that the game assumes that you’ve already played the first game, as it doesn’t really bother to teach you anything beyond the basic Force powers and how to attack, so the learning curve is a little bit steep for people who haven’t played the first game. However, it’s very manageable, and not too hard to pick up.

Also, the loading times are MUCH better than the first game’s.

The challenges that come with the game are… lackluster. They’re basically things like survive waves of enemies and getting to a goal under a time limit. They don’t add a lot to the game, and unless if you really love the game, you’ll probably not be bothered to get Platinum on them just to unlock a few more costumes.

So is the game good? Yeah, it’s a fun game that I enjoyed. In fact, if you’re a Star Wars fan and liked the first game, I’d recommend it to you. Just don’t buy it at the original retail price, in my opinion, the game’s only worth $20-$30.

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Alan Wake Short Look

Posted by cyberpfalcon on February 14, 2011

So recently I went over to my friend’s place, and tried out Alan Wake on his Xbox 360. I was unexpectedly surprised by how good it was. Unfortunately, since I don’t have an Xbox 360, I won’t be finishing Alan Wake anytime soon, but I was impressed enough by the Prologue and the first episode that I want to give a short look at the game.

The story of the game is about Alan Wake, who is a writer suffering from writer’s block. He and his wife, Alice, travel to the rural town of Bright Falls for a vacation and, hopefully, for some inspiration. However, disaster soon strike when Alice disappears and Bright Falls turns in a dark, nightmarish town filled with human-like (but very obviously not human) creatures trying to kill Alan, who’s only defense seems to be the light.

The game is a third person shooter, with Alan going from episode to episode, defeating the creatures as he makes his way to his wife. However, the twist is that Alan must shine light onto the creatures, who are otherwise nigh-invulnerable, with things like a flashlight in order to defend himself and kill the creatures blocking his way.

The game is very atmospheric and the story (at least as far as I played it) is well told. The simple twist of having to shine light on the enemies before being able to defeat them serves the game well and adds a lot to the atmosphere.

However, one big gripe I do have with the game is the almost atmosphere-breaking aspect of having manuscripts from Alan’s book to collect and the definite atmosphere-breaking aspect of having coffee thermoses as collectibles. The manuscripts does, at least, serve to provide a bit more insight to Alan Wake and its world, however, the coffee thermoses just completely break the atmosphere of the game whenever they appear. I’d be going through a logging site, trying to stay alive and defeat the monsters in this nightmarish world when all the sudden… there is a floating coffee thermos… Definitely a bit jarring.

However, coffee thermoses aside, Alan Wake does seem to be a fairly good game with a great story and good gameplay. It’s definitely one of the games I’d buy if I owned an XBox 360.

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The Civil War Of The Ultimate Alliance (Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 Review)

Posted by cyberpfalcon on February 3, 2011

Sometime ago, about a month before I started this blog, I wrote a review of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 for my friend’s blog. For the sake of completeness, here it is:

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Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is awesome! It’s an enjoyable game with a good story. It also doesn’t get too RPGy, which some people complain about, since the last few Ultimate Alliance games had more RPG elements. However in my opinion, I found this to be better, since this means that there aren’t useless powers to accidentally give points to. And seriously, its a superhero game – we want the action.

Overall, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 is a good experience, both single player and multiplayer (by that I mean offline co-op, I haven’t tried online yet). The only complaint I have are the loading times, but it’s not that bad. Loading times are only around half a minute or so… which is far better than Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

I’m quite happy that I preordered Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, since it looks like they were sold out very quickly, and I got Juggernaut! While Juggernaut isn’t one of my favourite characters, he’s actually quite fun to use, so that’s good. And I’m pleased with how the developers included some of the lesser known heroes instead of only the popular ones. Plus, its not an easy game either, but it strikes a good balance between being easy and too hard. You should definitely try out the game.
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The original review can be found here.
While you are there, please check out his blog and his book, “Lessons From The Successful Investor“.

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