Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reviews: Darksiders 2, Sleeping Dogs

Darksider II
Published by THQ
Developed by Vigil Games
Available: NOW
Price: $59.99
Available on: Sony PS3, Microsoft Xbox 360 and PC

I’ve brought pain – I’ve dropped the hammer but never, ever have I played as the character Death himself. I was looking forward to taking “Darksiders II” for a spin as the Grim Reaper, heck, with my black hoodie, my deadly scythes and an irritable disposition – and no Skittle or Arizona tea either (RIP, Trayvon).

However, I quickly realized that even the dreaded Death got a makeover. Now, instead of a hooded figure, Death looks like he’s touring with Alice in Chains. He’s buff – guess he has been hitting Planet Fitness like a boss – and even packs his brother’s lost revolver.
Just one question – what does Death need with a revolver?
Developed by Vigil Games and published by THQ, “Darksiders II” is the second installment in the “Darksiders” series. In this game, Death must figure out how to restore humanity and clear his brother name, War, who is accused of starting the Apocalypse.
The action kicks off slowly – you start off with Despair, his trusty horse (you'll find yourself being tired of Death saying 'This is no place for a horse') and his crow, Dust. You will face a few enemies to introduce you to combat. You have two main weapons – your primary weapon and a killer, heavy weapon – as well as your revolver – well, your brother's.
The game is also filled with minigames – brain teaser type games. You may find yourself stuck, hanging off a ledge and figure out you need to run across the wheels – Death rocks at this – or scale overgrown vegetation. You'll also get tired of rolling huge stone balls around to unlock gates. Meh. You'll also be able to use constructs - these rock creatures that are powerful enough to destroy rock formations, fight baddies and unlock doors.
The biggest gripe so far is the suspect camera angles. You will find yourself shaking your head, especially in the midst of battles – and the camera pans behind a rock, blocking your view of Death. I would love to find a way to reset the camera, especially as enemies descend on you in unrelenting waves.
I haven't been able to get online with the action yet – but I'll definitely update it when I can get back online. I also have about 6 minutes on gameplay uploaded on YouTube if you are interested. http://youtu.be/FtTWdkKpT0o
My recommendation? BUY. This game is repetitive - no doubt - but it's still fun clearing your brother and fellow Four Horseman's name and restore humanity. If you don't mind the crazy camera angles at times, it's a fun game to just unplug and enjoy.

8 stars (out of 10)

Sleeping Dogs
Developed by: United Front Games
Published by: Square-Enix
Available: NOW
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Price: $59.99 and up

Rating: M for Mature

I have been a huge fan of Activision's franchise “True Crime.” It was a GTA-knockoff, but it was still fun to play. The first one was by far my favorite. Set in LA, you fought gangs, Triads and drove like you were Joilet Jake and Elwood Blues in the “Blue Brothers.”

Finally, Activision made plans to bring the last-generation sensation to current generation HD consoles. However, Activision didn't think their newest offering, set in Hong Kong would catch fire so they dropped it. Square Enix decided to pick up the title and finish what Activision started. Did they succeed? Did they fail? It's not perfect but Square Enix has pumped life into the 'True Crime' series, even if they had to flip the script and change the name.

Developed by United Front Games and published by Square Enix, “Sleeping Dogs” follows an undercover cop, Wei Shen working with the Hong Kong PD, who is looking for a way into the Sun On Yee organization. Wei uses his old contacts from his days in Hong Kong to gain the trust of the Red Poles.

The first part of the game starts off with you doing errand missions – take over stores, chase a hood – but after you wipe the floor with an early boss, the world of Hong Kong, which seemed some closed and focused at first – is now open for gamers. It's single player, so you can't do co-op with a friend to tear the town up, but it's still a hoot without the feature.

You are free to complete main missions, side missions or just cruise. You start off with a motorcycle and unlike GTA and “Saints Row,” you can't just jack a car or bike and expect to store it for later. You ARE an officer – be it undercover, so you have to adhere to the law somewhat, even if you beat down suspects to an inch within losing their lives.

The slickest feature is, without a doubt, the fight system. Wu can bust caps, pick up knives, pipes and wreck shop. The controls are very similar to “Batman” - you have punches but jam on Y to counter a foe's punch or kick. When the foe is about to strike, most times – I repeat MOST TIMES – the enemies will flash red, letting you know they are about to strike.
The story is cool – it's not cheesy and you actually feel sorry for the people he's gaining the trust of. Revenge motivates Wei Shen.

The camera angles are ok – the biggest adjustment for me was remembering which side of the street to drive on. The graphics look good, though at times the game suffers from slight pop-in and during cutscenes, the game sometimes shows it's shelf life.

Be warned - the language is salty. I counted quite a few F-bombs in just 5 minutes of gameplay alone. If you have little ears around, please wear headphones or put the sound on mute.

The music is killer - the sounds are great, the soundtrack a hit. If you don't mind the characters speaking their language and mixing it with English - enabling subtitles is a definite plus - you'll have fun with the audio.

Want to see video of "Sleeping Dogs" gameplay? Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rPz2D7p3WE

My recommendation? BUY. Sure, it will remind of you "Yakuza" or "Stranglehold." Sure, the plot is worn but trust me - the game is so much fun. You have the freedom to play this game the way you want. I'll update the review with online gameplay as soon as possible.

8.5 stars (out of 10)

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