September 19, 2012

Review – Mark of the Ninja

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 12:08 am

Review Mark of the Ninja
While not quite as overcooked as our friend the zombie, the Ninja certainly qualifies as a familiar enough videogame character to stir a collective sigh whenever a new title bearing a protagonist with the requisite sword and black pajamas appears.

But hold your breath a moment longer dear Sugarfriend, because the latest release from Klei Entertainment justifies the familiar trappings by placing said protagonist firmly in the stealth genre here, leaving one only to question why that hasn’t happened more often.

Mind you, I’ve given the thumbs-up to a fair number of lightning fast ninja titles, never really questioning the lack of a ninja game that focused on the most basic principles of the silent and invisible weapon the ninja represents at its core. The experiment warrants more than a few words, and that Klei has also created this ninja tale in a 2D environment that manages to freshen up ye olde stealth genre to boot only strengthens the sales pitch.


June 11, 2012

E3 2012 – Hands On with Mark of the Ninja

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 12:56 pm

Mark of the Ninja E3 2012
Few years slip by in the gaming industry without a healthy dose of Ninja themed releases, offering familiar means to slice through enemies, run up walls, and embed a few shuriken in the skulls of adversaries. But for those gamers looking to romance the more stealthy elements of the ninja lifestyle, there’s rarely much to chew on aside from minor moments, most recently illustrated by Ninja Gaiden 3, which introduced stealth kills only to promptly drop the feature.

If this depresses you, one hot minute with Klei Entertainment’s Mark of the Ninja should put the jelly back in your donut with an experience built entirely on emphasizing the stealth skills of the silent ninja.


February 21, 2012

Review – Warp

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 9:08 am

Review Warp
Science becomes a lot more interesting when people explode.

While the academic world has yet to reach that same conclusion, developer Trapdoor has embraced the idea with their Xbox LIVE Arcade release, Warp, employing a play mechanic that isn’t long for grabbing attention as the screen fills with meaty chunks and flailing limbs.

Featuring an abduction story that sympathizes with the alien’s point of view, an adorable extraterrestrial crashes on Earth and is quickly taken to an underwater government facility for painful probing and testing. The player’s first steps involve a series of tests conducted by curious scientists, but it isn’t long before contact with a strange glowing orb grants the plucky alien teleporting powers, offering the opportunity to study anatomy off walls freshly covered with human organs while making an escape.


December 13, 2009

Review – Velvet Assassin

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 11:35 am

Review Velvet Assassin
Inspired by the real life events of Violette Szabo during the Second World War, Velvet Assassin places players in the boots of Violette Summer, tasked with the disruption of the Nazi war machine far behind the front lines of the escalating conflict. And though that summary is sufficient for some, the game has also tasked me with writing one of the most important reviews of my short career, because Velvet Assassin is fighting a war on two fronts. The 1s and 0s pressed onto this disc are relentless in the attempt to bring humanity to a videogame with a style made distinct through both the action and inaction available to the player. And where the game functions within the stealth genre, it manages to upset the status quo of my expectations every bit as much as Metal Gear did so many years ago.

It’s already evident that my opinion is the minority view, others having already dismissed the title as another mediocre entry within the crowded arena of World War II games. But this viewpoint is problematic due largely to my tendency to play a game to completion, which in this case proved to me that Velvet Assassin is one of the most challenging titles gamers have ever been offered. And while I don’t expect reviewers and critics to always agree, this negative opinion of the title is troublesome when considering that a review ideally attempts to convey reactions, feelings, and emotional responses to a media product – because if this is the case, than I’m confident that a play-through of Velvet Assassin would lead us all to believe that these reviewers are as hardened and emotionally detached as the men Violette hunts. The ease with which others have already passed this title over oozes with the same spirit of inept complacency that plunged us into the current economic crisis.

If I had to preface a sense of the game for this review – and I do – I’d probably reference the sub-plot from the Tim Robbins film The Player. It involves a director who adamantly wants to create a film that resists the bland and typical habits of American cinema, offering a more solemn and thereby human depiction of life. However by the end of the film proper the director has created a typical Hollywood blockbuster and is content with the success. With this in mind, we should be grateful that Velvet Assassin has emerged like a foreign media, resistant to the marketing pressure that would normally prevent this type of gaming experience – instead delivering the repetitious experience others want you to believe this to be. At times it dips into melodrama, at its best when such moments are contrasted with the stark reality of the scenes players witness when moving Violette through the environments. And while Velvet Assassin is a sorrowful experience, that isn’t what makes the title compelling. Rather it is the reality the game offers that has left me exhausted, and euphorically disorientated, earnestly engaged by a true artistic accomplishment. And if you’re willing to read on, I think we can reach an understanding about why this is, and perhaps why I’ll assuredly be drinking alone at gaming industry events.


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