Portal 2

The first Portal was one of the finest achievements of gaming in the last 5 years. Introducing the noble concept of portals and being a puzzle game that takes place in first-person perspective, it took the gaming world by storm. The humour was also top-notch, the story told in a unique way. Its relatively short length was a small problem compared to everything it gave to the player. It was universally loved.

It was clear that Valve couldn’t just let such a successful game remain without a sequel. The obvious (financial) reason aside, there was just so much potential and so much more to be done with the concept. There was much more to be explored in Aperture Science’s laboratories. And, four years later, Valve delivered. Portal 2. We were positive it would be a blast again.

Portal 2 Boxart

Game: Portal 2
Developer: Valve
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release: 2011
Territories: All

Portal 2 manages to successfully reuse everything that made the original great and add more. The feeling of nobility may not be there anymore, the puzzles may feel easier because “we think in portals” now, but the entertainment, the feeling of satisfaction as you solve a puzzle and move onto the next one, is well worth it. The new puzzle elements – the bridges, funnels and gels, help the game maintain the feeling of freshness and not feel too much like “more of the same.”

Once again, like in the Wonder Boy review, the in-game screenshots are my own. 🙂

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Wonder Boy

As someone born in the 80s and having grown up with this kind of games, I love retro games. I owned an Atari 2600 Jr., later a bootleg NES, then a SEGA Mega Drive II. Additionally, I spent a lot of my time and pocket money at the arcades… These early experiences contributed greatly to shaping me up as the gamer I am today.

As I enjoy playing classics I’d never had the chance to back in the day, some of my reviews here will be of such games. Back in the day, games were simpler, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Such were the times. In result, these reviews may also be on the short side, but that’s cool as long as the message gets across. And, if anyone decides to give such an older title a shot after reading a review of mine, then I will be happy.

The first title getting this treatment is a game I had only seen in the arcades when I was little. It’s SEGA’s original Wonder Boy, the first installment in a very fascinating series (whose never-released-outside-Japan-before entry Monster World IV is coming soon on PSN and Wii’s Virtual Console) that was a cult favourite at the arcades and on consoles alike. I am reviewing the SEGA Master System port of the original arcade game, which is actually quite faithful to it (unlike many other console ports of arcade games of the period).

This is also the first review where I am providing my own in-game screenshots. 🙂

Wonder Boy

Game: Wonder Boy
Developer: Westone
Platforms: Arcade; SG-1000, SEGA Master System, Game Gear, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC; Mobile; Wii Virtual Console
Releases: 1986 (arcade, SG-1000); 1987 (other 8-bit systems); 2004 (mobile); 2008 (Wii VC)
Territories: All

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Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

One cannot avoid the feeling of sadness when a great story ends. In addition to the awe at the conclusion, one feels the bittersweet disappointment that now all the secrets have been unveiled and all the dots – connected. That is how I felt when I finished Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – the final chapter of my favourite game series. Everything came together nicely, there was nothing more to be added… But Peace Walker proved that wrong.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Game: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Developer: Kojima Productions
Platforms: PlayStation Portable; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (as part of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection)
Releases: 2010 (PSP), 2011 (PS3/Xbox 360), 2012 (PS3/Xbox 360 – Europe)
Territories: All

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the latest installment in the ground-breaking tactical espionage action series by Hideo Kojima. Built for the PSP, it is superior in every way to its handheld predecessor, Portable Ops, and Kojima himself and his trusty team were the ones working on its development from beginning to end (as opposed to the overseer role Kojima had with Portable Ops). Furthermore, with the game coming to consoles as part of the HD collection (and that was the version I played, too), it proved to be ambitious and well-made enough that one barely sees differences from the full-blown console Metal Gear Solid titles.

Fans of the series will certainly love this one, and even people completely new to it will be pleased. Peace Walker keeps the core gameplay we’ve come to know and love, and also takes some interesting new approaches that help the game feel fresh and exciting even to Metal Gear veterans. And it’s another chapter of the story of Big Boss – one of the most badass, awe-inspiring game characters to have ever existed.

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Shin Megami Tensei: Persona

The best time to write a review for a game is after you’ve recently finished it, while it’s still fresh in your mind. I’ll usually stick to that rule on this site. My second review is of the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona PSP remake.

Persona PSP

Game: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
Developer: Atlus
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Release: 2009 (PSP remake)
Original release: 1996 (PlayStation)
Territories: All

I decided to get into the Persona series after I read unimaginable amounts of praise for the third and fourth installments on just about every game forum I’ve visited. And since I like being able to play through a series and observe its development in every next installment, I started at the first game, if by playing its PSP remake as opposed to the original PlayStation version.

Persona (or Revelations: Persona, as the original PS1 game’s name was) is a traditional JRPG by Atlus with turn-based combat. The game’s age certainly shows, with some of the mechanics being outdated, but there are also some very interesting ideas I had not seen before. The story is focused on psychology, if only on a fairly juvenile level, as the main characters are high school kids, still searching for their purpose in life.

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Xenogears

The time has come for my first review. For such a special occasion, I have chosen one of my favourite games of all time, Xenogears. Before I start, it should be known that my rating scale is in the 0-10 range, with 5 being average. I also do not give high scores very easily – for instance, only about 25 games I’ve played have earned a score of 9 or more in my eyes.

Xenogears

Game: Xenogears
Developer: SquareSoft
Platforms: PlayStation; PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita (PSOne Classics)
Original release: 1998
Territories: Japan, North America

Xenogears is a science-fiction RPG by SquareSoft for PlayStation. The main writer and mastermind behind the game is Tetsuya Takahashi, who later also became known for the Xenosaga series and, more recently, Xenoblade Chronicles. The game is considerably long, even for an RPG, taking 60-80 hours to beat. It is a considerable investment of time.

Xenogears is also a complex game. But, even if you are not a big fan of games that make you think, do not let that scare you away. Playing an RPG, one expects a considerable focus on the story. In Xenogears, that is also correct, of course, but things are taken one, no, many steps further.

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