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Title: Legacy of Kain: Defiance
Genre: Third Person Action Adventure
Platform: XBox
Complete: Yes
Price Paid: $12.99 - 10% (used)
Would Pay: $29.99

This is Soul Reaver 3, except you get to play as both Kain and Raziel and see the storyline from each of their views. This is much closer to Soul Reaver than Soul Reaver 2. I just wish it was a little closer. The Elemental Temples were a shadow of their former selves, although getting to the Water Temple felt almost exactly like puzzles from Soul Reaver 1. It's a shame that more of the game wasn't like this.

The Kain portions were fairly linear feeling, but still fun. You could easily tell where you were going to be as Raziel, as Kain couldn't open Elemental doors and you could often catch a glimpse of one. Some of this overlap was done rather sloppily however. The events of Kain and Raziel were 500 years apart, but sometimes the later time would be cleaner and have less damage than the earlier time even though the area was abandoned for that whole time.

The voice acting and story of the Kain series (Blood Omen and Soul Reaver) are both excellent, although with all the time travel it's hard to know what's going on and who's the good guy and who's the bad guy, although that is part of the charm. The series has kept it's voice actors (RIP Tony Jay, you'll be missed) throughout, making it easy to get into one after playing the others. Although whatever you do, don't play soon after eating. The graphical effects of the underworld can make your stomach do flips.
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Title: Syberia II
Platform: XBox
Genre: Adventure
Complete: Yes
Price Paid: $17.99 (new)
Would Pay: $3.99

I bought this because I wanted to see where it was going to go after Syberia. To be perfectly honest, that was a pretty poor reason to buy this. Crap like this is why people repeat the litany "Adventure games are dead". I could not bring myself to care about the characters, and the only reason I finished was that I went through so much trouble trying to find it. I simply went through the motions, referring to the FAQ more and more as I got further along. My preference is to use FAQs to the smallest degree possible, but trying to solve some of these puzzles was more of a chore than anything else. Alternating between this and Dragon's Quest may have highlighted the flaws in my mind, but there certainly didn't seem to be anything done right enough to wipe the bad taste out of my mouth. Sure, the graphics are absolutely gorgeous, but that doesn't make up for the lack of pacing and kludgy interface.
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Don't bother with Pelican wireless controllers. Two xbox, one PS2, one Gamecube have *all* ended up with the identical problem. There is quite frequently a "bounce back" where you go in a reverse or random direction after the stick or gamepad returns to center. We haven't seen the same problem with Logitech nor Nintendo wireless controllers.
sqlrob: (link)
Title: Syberia
Genre: Adventure
Platform: XBox
Complete: Yes
Price Paid: $7.99 - 10% (Used)
Would Pay: $19.99

I've been on an adventure kick lately, the past three or four games I've bought on the XBox have all been adventures.

This is much closer to the classic adventure than Dreamfall. This is both good and bad. It was nice solving puzzles and wandering the environment. However, the pacing of the story suffered for it. This didn't reach out and grab me like Dreamfall did. They tried to make the game more real, with the character getting cell calls that were mostly unrelated to the main story. It didn't work very well, being more annoying than anything else.

It took the main character far too long to become assertive. I would've pounded Oscar's head in long before she decided to stand up to him. God, he was an annoying twit.

The ending of the game was rather sudden. I expected to have to get the train through a few more stations before endgame. Instead, the person I'm looking for just decides to show up, game over.

Finally! Caught up in these reviews.

Earl Thomas Conley - Love Out Loud - The Essential Earl Thomas Conley
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Title: Dreamfall - The Longest Journey (Longest Journey II)
Genre: Adventure
Platform: X-Box
Price Paid: $39.99
Would Pay: $39.99
Complete: Yes

I've had as long a history with adventure games as I've had with RPG's. Scott Adams, Adventure, Zork and almost all of the Infocom games, a good chunk of the Space Quest, Kings Quest and Leisure Suit Larry's, all of the Monkey Islands and most of the other Lucas Arts games; I imported Discworld Noir . With the "adventure games are dying" schtick, I go and buy most of the ones when I find out about them, since they're few and far between.

That said, this is more of an "interactive mini-series" than a game. It's fine if that's what you're expecting, but can be a turn off for some. The traditional adventure game puzzles are few and far between. The computer hacking and unlocking that would be puzzles in other games were minigames here.

You play several different characters and this is used to good effect. You get to a climatic moment of the plot, and pow, you're now playing a different character, either simply to stretch out the anticipation, or possibly rescue the character that just got captured. It can get confusing. At one point, you actually play both sides of the same conversation.

This game certainly not the ideal game. Focus is more on conversations than on puzzle solving. Choices also seem to be a magician's choice, responses seem to be slightly adjusted for what you say but don't have any real impact on the story. Graphics for the environment are gorgeous, but the people models are just freaky looking. There are also very few people wandering around the environment. This leads to an annoying quest at one point. It was the classic "fed ex" quest, going back and forth trying to get an introduction to a certain person. As soon as it started, you knew where it was going to end if you did any exploring, but you still had to go through the motions.

The worst thing about this game is the @#$*&( ending. It would be bad enough in a season finale on a TV show, but it was more than five years between the first game and the second. The next game better come out a lot faster.

The Prodigals - The Morning After - Dreaming In Hells Kitchen


Oct. 28th, 2005 05:24 pm
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After a six year wait, finally in my clammy claws is Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. I hope this doesn't have the same problems that plague other games in development for a long time.
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Title: Psychonauts
Platform: XBox
Genre: 3D Platformer
Complete: No
Price Paid: $39.99
Would pay: $29.99

So close, yet so far. For the most part, this game is incredible. The graphics are gorgeous, exploring the camp grounds and people minds are a blast. The story is unique and warped, exactly what I'd expect from the mind that spawned Grim Fandango. The environments are unique, varying from the inside of a black velvet painting to the mind of an extremely paranoid individual, to a dance party/pinball machine.

Unfortunately, the highs are countered by the lows. Places where the camera can't be moved, such as the lungfish boss, are more frustrating than fun. I almost gave up there (as did [livejournal.com profile] jenbooks, but I got her past it). The final level takes the cake though. It's an escort mission where each step is unclear until you've tried it a few times. Fail any section, and you're back at the beginning. Repeatedly trying to get a knife thrower to hit the right spot on a rotating board and then swing on the knife is no fun. Game over.
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Title: Voodoo Vince
Genre: Platform
Platform: XBox
Completed: No
Price Paid: $14.99 - 10% (used)
Would Pay: $9.99

This was one of those "must buy" games when I got an XBox. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations. It's a fair platformer, and not much more. The graphics are absolutely gorgeous, but the gameplay is, on average, just a mediocre platformer. The much vaunted "hurt yourself to hurt your enemies" is for the most part nothing more than a gimmick. When you are fighting enemies, it's just an area effect weapon with somewhat creative animation and not much more. It comes into it's own in boss battles, where the "battle" becomes "OK, how do I hurt myself here using the environment".

What killed it for me was the uneven difficulty level. Harvestable lives made up for some of the areas that are difficult - I would've given up much, much earlier if that wasn't the case. Towards then end though, it got utterly ridiculous, where I spent 80+ lives trying to get past one jumping puzzle. Sorry, it's not fun at that point, into the discards pile it goes.
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Title: Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (aka Broken Sword III)
Platform: XBox
Genre: Adventure
Complete: Yes
Paid: $12.99 (used)
Would Pay: $24.99

Adventure gaming is not dead. Unlike Leisure Suit Larry, George and Nico made the transition to 3D just fine. Unfortunately, there's no control of the camera, something I've grown to expect in 3D games. The gameplay is largely "point and click" adventuring, with objects automatically getting a cursor when you are near them, and actions and the buttons they map to being shown on the lower right of the screen. This interface actually works quite well, not quite as seamless as Grim Fandango, but very functional.

There are quite a few box puzzles, and this was considered a strike against it in many of the reviews I read when it came out. After Soul Reaver, I barely noticed these puzzles and walked through them like they weren't even there for the most part. The parts that brought the rating down for me was all the sneaking that was required in the last third of the game or so. I am not big on sneakers and that really bugged me. Especially since the "loading" screen after deaths in these sections was much longer than it should've been.

There are also some bugs in this game, which is annoying since console games can't be patched. Fortunately, none of them were permanent gamestoppers. I had one crash, at one point one of the NPCs was simply a black blob, no texturing of any sort applied, he was just a hole in the background, and one problem wasn't solvable until a reboot even though I was taking the correct actions.

This was one of those games that I was originally planning to get when it came out, as I have completed Broken Sword II (PC) and have played Broken Sword I (GBA). However, I was thwarted at every turn, all by short sighted publishers.

The PC version has a copy protection from hell, and there was no way I was going to install that on my work computer, and copy protection tends to break compatibility with WINE for no good reason.

OK, so let's get the PS2 version. Whoops, not released in the US and you need a mod chip to run imports. So much for that.

So I finally get the XBox version, used. You listening publishers? Because of your ill thought out protection, you didn't get a single penny from me where you would've gotten full retail. This is far from the only game that I'm not bothering with because of your idiocy *cough*HL2*cough*

Edit: Corrected price, added bugs


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