Thursday, February 24, 2011

Photoshoppery

Hello there! How has life been treating you? Great!
I've been learning some Photoshop, myself. Nothing fancy, just messing up pictures. Take a look!
This is that painfully serious spokesperson for Nintendo of America. I still don't understand how he can talk about games like Kirby and Pokemon in such a solemn tone.

If you don't understand this poster, you need to watch more Nicholas Cage movies.

This is an edited version of what is quite possibly the most famous picture of Bill Gates. This mug-shot was taken when the CEO-to-be was arrested for traffic violation. I saw it fit to add a little Daft Punk.

No explanation is necessary or possible.


This picture was actually made before I knew Photoshop; it was done with Adobe Fireworks CS3. It took a lot longer than it should have. Looking back, I really should have changed the characters a little bit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tron: Evolution - Video Game Review

Tron Evolution is a third-person action-platforming game developed by Propaganda Interactive and published by Disney Interactive to tie-in to the release of the movie Tron: Legacy. The game bridges the story gap between the 1982 film and the 2010 sequel, making it an important part of the Tron timeline. But is Tron Evolution another mediocre movie game, or a fun action-platformer that can stand on its own? Without further ado, I will begin my review.

Story: Tron: Evolution begins shortly after the 1982 film, opening up with a video log of Sam Flynn talking about the discovery of the Isomorphic Algorithms, ISOs. Flynn claims the ISOs came in to existence without being created; and, unlike other programs in The Grid, have free will. When a deadly, widespread virus breaks out in The Grid, CLU (a program created by Sam Flynn to make The Grid a perfect world) blames the disaster on the ISOs. The player controls a system security program called “Anon” who starts following the suspicious Quorra character through the Grid. Anon soon teams up with Quorra to fight the virus and stop CLU in his quest to eliminate the ISOs. The story is just under ten hours in length, and brilliantly ties the 1982 and 2010 movies together. It also goes into detail about a lot of the mythology and back story that wasn’t fully explained in Tron: Legacy. Tron: Evolutions story is a crucial part of the Tron canon, and should be played through for anyone who enjoyed Tron: Legacy's story.

Story: 9/10

Gameplay: Tron: Evolution is an interesting mix of Parkour-style platforming and hack-and-slash combat. There is also an RPG-inspired level-up system that allows the player to upgrade their character. What makes this system unique is that experience points may be gained in either singleplayer or multiplayer modes, making level grinding much more enjoyable. This is a unique and brilliant addition to the action-RPG genre that is missing from many mainstream titles. At one point in the single player experience, the player can even opt to play that segment online to progress through the games story. The combat system has a lot of things going for it; there is a good variety of enemies throughout the game, and four different attack discs to use on different enemies. The platforming is very well implemented as well. The level design is unique and straightforward, although some elements of the game can get repetitive at times. The game takes the odd break from combat and platforming with a few minor puzzles to slow things down. Naturally, Tron: Evolution works vehicles into the mix. At several points throughout the game, the player uses the famous Tron Light Bike and even gets a few opportunities to use the powerful Light Tank. The vehicles feel very organic in the game; they control beautifully and don’t feel tacked on at all. The Light Bike has some collision detection issues, but the vehicle mechanics feel very polished otherwise. While Tron: Evolution has promising gameplay and some great ideas, there are a few flaws in the combat system and platforming that cannot be overlooked. For starters, the platforming is completely unpredictable. At times, the game is generous in the way it allows the player to make minor mistakes; but at other times it’s brutally unforgiving, and demands complete accuracy. On a similar note, switches that trigger important events in the game are often finicky, forcing the player to try activating them a number of times before being successful. There is also a lot of frustrating level design and unclear hints toward the end of the game. As for combat system issues, the enemy health is inconsistent. Sometimes enemies will be derezzed after four hits, and other times the same type of enemy won’t take any damage after several dozen attacks. Boss battles are extremely slow and repetitive, although they do have a generous amount of checkpoints. The character upgrading system is not perfect either. While experience points and level ups are distributed well, the actual upgrades they unlock aren’t all that helpful. After a couple of health increments and an upgrade to the Statis disc, the remaining options include such trivial attributes as extra loadouts for online multiplayer and upgrades to discs that the player rarely even gets a chance to use. Having said all that, the gameplay in Tron: Evolution is certainly a step up from most movie tie-in video games; keeping things fresh with well-placed gameplay variations such as boss battles and vehicles. The combat should appeal to fans of hack-and-slash action adventures, and is well designed for the most part. The platforming elements range from fun and thoughtfully designed to frustrating and unreliable. Online Multiplayer is one of the better parts of Tron: Evolution, as it is well integrated into the single player experience. The multiplayer mode includes the standard features; voice chat, friend invites, lobbys, etc. And yes, there is a light bike mode. The story mode can easily be beaten in less than eight hours, but there are enough hidden items and unlockables to satisfy hardcore gamers. Overall, Tron: Evolution has some great ideas in the gameplay department; but they are ultimately corrupted by finicky platforming, repetitive boss battles, and a poor selection of upgrades. At times, the game is a noteworthy addition to the action-adventure genre, but at other times it has just as many issues as any other movie tie-in game. Tron: Evolutions gameplay is acceptable.

Gameplay: 6/10

Graphics: Much like the gameplay, Graphics in Tron: Evolution will generate mixed opinions. The in-game graphics are very good. The attacks look great, the environments are beautifully rendered, and the game maintains a steady framerate. The game even tries to recreate some of the more impressive visual effects from the movie. While they aren’t the same spectacle they were in Tron: Legacy, Tron: Evolution does a good job of emulating the movies visuals. Ironically, the cutscenes are where the graphics fail to measure up. A lot of the character models look flat-out hideous, as if they were scanned from action figures that had survived military weapons testing. The curious part is that other character models actually look pretty good. It’s a strange mix of mediocrity and quality that is just as unstable as the gameplay. While some of the character models are laughably bad, the game has great in-game graphics that draw the player in to The Grid. Overall, Tron: Evolution has great graphics.

Graphics: 8/10

Sound: Sound is, without a doubt, the area in which Tron: Evolution is most successful. The game borrows a couple of Daft Punks musical tracks from the movie, however most of the music in the game is original. Having said that, the music in Tron: Evolution has the same energetic and retro feeling as the music from Tron: Legacy. The music complements the visuals and perfectly suits the overall atmosphere of the game. The sound effects fit right in to the world of Tron, and further define the games charm. The voice acting is all done with the original movie cast, including Olivia Wilde and Bruce Boxleitner. Every character in the game sounds just like they do in the movie. Overall, Tron: Evolution has an excellent soundtrack, flawless voice acting and great sound effects. Truly impressive.

Sound: 9.5/10


Overall: Overall, Tron: Evolution is excellent as a tie-in to the new movie, but has limited appeal as a stand-alone action game; thus making it very difficult to recommend for the gameplay alone. The game is completely inconsistent; certain areas of it work exceptionally well, and other parts seem to have been completely overlooked during development. It’s difficult to give the game a final score, but the bottom line is that I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Tron: Legacy's plot; as this game offers crucial backstory and important character development not explored in the movie. To people who aren’t fans of Tron, stay away from Tron: Evolution.

Overall: 6.5/10

Monday, November 22, 2010

Resident Evil 4 Review

Hey guys! You can catch my video review for Resident Evil 4 on YouTube, but I feel like I should get in the habit of posting text reviews on my blog. Since I make the text review first, then record audio; it would be virtually no effort to post the written reviews on here. So, here is is: My Resident Evil 4 Review in glorious text! Commodore 64 compatible.

Resident Evil 4 is a survival horror game developed by Capcom Production Studio 4 and published by Capcom for the Nintendo Gamecube in 2005. The game is vastly different from previous entries in the series, as it sports a new camera system and updated gameplay mechanics. Resident Evil 4 has been ported to the Playstation 2, iOs, PC and Nintendo Wii since it’s original release. The game received universal acclaim from both critics and gamers upon release five years ago; but does it remain the masterpiece it was on sixth generation consoles, or have recent accomplishments in gaming rendered the horrors of this game obsolete? Without further ado, I will begin my review.

Story: Ashley Graham, the daughter of the President of the United States, is kidnapped on her way home from college. Leon S. Kennedy, an agent in charge of protecting the Presidents family, is informed that Ashley Graham has been spotted in an undisclosed village in Europe. Leon goes to this village on a mission to rescue Ashley, only to be greeted by hostile villagers who are later revealed to be infected with a parasite known as Las Plagas. It is eventually revealed that a cult group known as the Los Illuminados is behind the kidnapping, and the Los Illuminados have plans to use Ashley in a global conspiracy. In his quest to rescue the Presidents daughter, Leon and Ashley also become infected with the Las Plagas parasite. What started out as a simple rescue mission gradually becomes more elaborate, as Leon works to eliminate the Los Illuminados, rid Himself and Ashley of Las Plagas, and expose the conspiracy behind the kidnapping of Ashley Graham. Resident Evil 4 is around fifteen to twenty hours depending on how many hidden items the player wants to find. The pacing is perfect, and most of the characters are impeccably well developed (the only exception being Ashly Graham, who doesn’t seem to have much personality beyond her damsel-in-distress status). The plot is revealed through intense cinematics and unsettling documents that are scattered throughout the environments, which reveal more about the Los Illuminados and a possible third-party involved with the whole ordeal. The unlockable “Assignment Ada” epilogue bridges many of the gaps in the plot and explains small details throughout the game. The story in Resident Evil 4 is suspenseful and intriguing, and keeps the player on the edge of their seat to the very end.

Story 9.5/10

Gameplay: Resident Evil 4 is a huge leap forward for the series in terms of gameplay. To start, Resident Evil 4 puts and end to the predetermined backgrounds from its predecessors in favor of a behind-the-back camera system. Although it may be a small change, the new camera angle allows for more intense enemy encounters and precision aiming. There are also context sensitive actions for the first time in the series, pressing the on-screen button at the right time can do anything from delivering a roundhouse kick to knocking down a ladder. The enemies in Resident Evil 4 have also undergone an overhaul in design. No longer are the enemies slow, weak and unintelligent; the parasitic humans of this game can set traps, react to the players actions, and strategize based on the players location. With dozens of unique enemies and a multitude of weapons to use, Resident Evil 4 has a lot in store for the player. The gameplay undergoes a strategic overhaul once the player rescues Ashley Graham. From this point on, the player must not only avoid enemies and protect Leon S. Kennedy, but also look out for Ashley and make sure no enemies get close to her. The boss battles are massive and intimidating, and feature some of the most freakish mutations ever conceived. The gameplay during boss battles contains such variations as harpoons, boulders, and giant pits of lava. For the first time in the series, there is a monetary system; players can buy and upgrade weapons, and sell various treasures they have found. The ability to sell collected treasures really adds to the depth of the game, and makes hunting down every last shiny object worthwhile. With unlockable costumes and extra game modes, there is no shortage of replay value in this game. Unfortunately, the unlockable Assignment Ada story involves a lot of monotonous running and doesn’t pack nearly as much thrills as the main game, but does bridge many important gaps in the story.

Oh Sh-

Resident Evil 4 was and still is a breakthrough in gameplay design. Clearly, a lot of thought was put into designing the weapons and enemies. The graphics and A.I. still hold up today, and the boss battles offer unsurpassed thrills. While the third person stop-and-shoot controls will take some getting used to, this unique control scheme allows for precision aiming and a more immersive experience. The gameplay in Resident Evil 4 is a work of art, and a revolution in all genres of gaming.

Gameplay: 10/10

Graphics: Atmosphere plays a huge role in Resident Evil 4; from the unsettlingly gruesome village to the menacing castle of Salazar, atmosphere is an important part of the overall experience. The graphics help achieve Resident Evil 4s atmosphere through the petrifyingly surreal environments and horribly mutated enemies. The effects of explosions and blood are lifelike, as are the detailed lighting effects. The Playstation 2 version of this game seemed to have minor performance issues toward the end, but it’s something that can easily be ignored. Overall, Resident Evil 4 uses graphics to immerse the player into the many horrific scenarios that the game has to offer.

Graphics: 9/10

Sound: Sound plays a huge role in Resident Evil 4. The music is atmospheric and creepy, and works with the graphics to create an incredibly immersive and unnerving environment. Various enemies have their signature sounds, which prepare the player for the upcoming horrors of battle. The voice acting is generally very convincing; the evil Salazar sounds genuinely sinister and the heroic Leon Kennedy has that classic action-hero charm. The villager dialogue is spoken entirely in Spanish, which adds to the realism and mystery of the village. A few lines throughout the game sounded uncomfortably out-of-character, but for the most part Resident Evil 4 has acceptable voice acting. Resident Evil 4 clearly uses sound to it’s advantage, enhancing the gameplay experience and adding an extra level of terror to the game. While the voice acting could have been more consistent in it’s quality, the sound is beautifully put together otherwise.

Sound: 8.5/10

Overall: Overall, Resident Evil 4 is a masterpiece among survival horror games. The pacing is perfect, the atmosphere is creepy and immersive, and the variety of weapons to customize and enemies to kill gives the game dozens of hours of replay value. The story is filled with interesting characters and an intriguing conspiracy, and the extra game modes elaborate on the enigmatic Ada Wong. The sound and visuals are brilliantly presented, and the game feels very polished overall. I highly recommend Resident Evil 4.

Overall: 9/10

Yes, you too can have this much fun!


This review is copyright Natlinxz 2010.
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