Monthly Archives: February 2013

'God Of War Collection' Review


The God of War series has become one of the top-tier franchises for PlayStation over it’s span of 5 (soon to be 6!) games. They offer deep and rewarding combat, clever and detailed puzzles (that occasionally make me want to rip my hair out) and stories that completely define the word “EPIC”. If you were at all into hack and slash games like Devil May Cry and Onimusha back in the day, then you will see that God of War very much picked up the torch passed on from those games. This collection contains the first two games in the series, which were both originally released on PS2.


Here are some notes on what has been improved in the original games:

  • Both God of War 1 and God of War 2 are presented in HD resolution, upgrading from the original 512 x 448.shh
  • The graphics have been polished a bit to reduce edge artifacting and provide a smoother looking experience.shh
  • The framerate has been increased from a variable 60 frames per second to a now consistent 60 frames per second.shh
  • Full PlayStation Trophies support has been added to both titles, so you can now track your progress of the overall game and more easily scope out those extras.

Although the games are just as fun now if you were still playing them on PS2, the added polish and work that went into the presentation is very much welcome. The complete CGI cutscenes look phenomenal, and even the in-game engine doesn’t look too shabby. The only real graphical smudges are when you come across cutscenes with the in-game engine running. It looks a little rough and definitely isn’t up to the standard seen in other areas. That is more the fault of the graphical limitations of the PS2, and could only be remedied if these two games were remade from the ground up.

For those unfamiliar with the God of War story, allow me to bore you with the details. The world is an alternate version of Ancient Greece, and contain the Olympian Gods, Titans and other creatures from Greek Mythology. It follows the story of Kratos, a warrior who serves the Greek Gods of Olympus. In the first game he is aiming to kill Ares, a god who granted Kratos the power to avoid death and destroy his enemies, but at a severe cost. He wants to kill Ares in hopes of reversing the terrible fate that has fallen upon him. Themes from this game are continued in the sequel, but I won’t go into the plot to avoid spoiling anything.

Kratos is a very different kind of protagonist compared to the ones you usually come across. He often comes off as arrogant, self-centered and ruthless throughout both games. You’ll get a better understanding of why he is like this as the games go on, but even when you do see what made him so harsh you still think, “dude… that was mean!”. This kind of anti-hero definitely brings up some interesting scenarios, and really makes you feel like you are a cold-blooded killer as you hack your way through the numerous beasts that seek to bring you down. Nothing will get in Kratos’ way, not even the people who aren’t in his way!

What makes these games so fun and addicting is that they immerse you in a fully-realized and authentic Ancient Greek setting. As you traverse the crumbled cities, deep dungeons and even hell itself, you feel as if you have been transported back in time to a world only spoken of in myths. The landscapes are often jaw-dropping in their beauty and the size and detail that went into them is easily apparent. All of the characters have terrific voice acting, and the the variety of different monsters, gods, and humans you come in contact with is impressive. The entire experience is also backed with terrific orchestration that contains some simply gorgeous musical pieces. In just about every area, God of War 1 and 2 are the epitome of epic.

These games are very much what you would call button mashers, but the combat system has enough variety to keep it from becoming stale. You constantly find yourself in combat situations where you are greatly outnumbered, though you have a variety of weapons, magic and techniques that allow you to take down even the toughest foes. Kratos’ weapons of choice are these two blades that are chained to his arms, and are what I used for pretty much the entirety of both games. The other weapons range from long swords, spears and hammers and all add a different combat experience. The variety is nice to have, but I found that most of the time they were unnecessary and didn’t really offer a noticeable advantage in any particular situation.

The magic system is just as varied, though unlike with weapons I used every kind of magic available consistently throughout both games. Some magic allows you to electrocute several foes, allowing you to come in for some easy hits while they thrive in pain, and others allow you turn your foes to stone and then smash them into itty bitty pieces. Regardless of your foes and combat situations, each type of magic is very helpful and can greatly increase your chances of victory.

The gameplay of these two titles are very similar, with little tweaks and changes in the second one to keep it fresh. You will be subjected to swarms of enemies that are regularly broken up by puzzles, and they usually lead to some kind of a boss. In 2, there are a greater range of bosses and some new combat scenarios like sky combat that are a welcome change of pace. The God of War system is a very well oiled machine, and yields great if not greater results in the sequel. They fine-tuned everything in the first game, and as a result I think God of War 2 is better from a gameplay standpoint. However, the game ends on one of the biggest cliff-hangers I have ever seen and had me sitting there thinking, “AWW COME ON!”

The cream of the crop in the God of War series is the boss fights. They are incredibly well made and have an epic and cinematic feel to them that almost always left me in awe. They mix some puzzle elements, skilled combat and time-sensitive button pressing into glorious battles that will really push you to your limits. You come across Medusa, Perseus, Ares and even Zeus himself throughout these first two games. They all offer intense battles that are very unique from each other, and are some of the best boss fights you will come across in any action adventure game.

Both games include HUGE amounts of bonus material that reward several playthroughs. You unlock new costumes for Kratos to wear while he obliterates his unworthy enemies, new cutscenes, concept art, scrapped enemies and levels and more. The amount of content available here is exhaustive and adds a lot of insight on the initial ideas for the games, the creation process and all of the ins and outs of the production. The extras for God of War 1 are watchable in the game menu, while God of War 2 requires you to go to the video tab on your PlayStation homepage. This is a nice addition because it allows you to view the features as you would on a DVD or Blu-ray, with options to pause and skip to whatever part of a video you want to.

This collection is an absolute steal if you haven’t played these games yet. It offers two of the most highly-acclaimed PS2 titles brought to PS3 with a new coat of shiny paint. God of War 1 took me around 10 hours to beat and God of War 2 took me around 15 hours to beat, but you could double those times if you went for all of the extras. The games still hold up incredibly well despite their age and graphical limitations, and offer deep and rewarding gameplay experiences that will have you refusing to put the controller down, even if you have died in the same spot 100 times and are ready to smash your controller into a million pieces. This is a testament to how well-made the games were when they first released in 2005 and 2007, respectively, and proves that the formula shows no signs of aging.


'Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix' Coming Stateside

Square Enix has just made an announcement that Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix will be launching in the U.S. and Europe this fall.shh

The compilation package contains the games Re: Chain of Memories and Final Mix, as well as cutscenes from 358/2 days.shh

It will also have full trophy support and bonus content, such as new weapons, abilities and cutscenes.shh

I personally cannot wait for this to come. You many not know this about me (or maybe you do… which would be kinda creepy) but I am a HUGE Kingdom Hearts fan, so any chance I have to play a new one and I will LUNGE at it! Some of this content I have already experienced, but overall this is something I can’t miss. I JUST CAN’T, DAMMIT!shh


PlayStation 4 System Details & Confirmed Games Revealed

It’s official, everyone! PS4 was announced last night at a live event in New York, and put months of speculation to rest on console titles, controller designs and release date time-frames. The presentation lasted over 2 hours and was followed by pretty much anyone with even a hint of an interest in gaming. Interestingly enough, the actual system was not shown at the event, though there certainly was no shortage of other details. Continue reading

Iceage – New Brigade (2011) Review

Hey guys! How are you all doing? I’m sure you’re doing great because you’re on this site! Hey, I saw that look. Come on, just humor me a bit, will ya? Anyways, the band Iceage has their sophomore release You’re Nothing coming out in a couple weeks, so let’s take a look back and talk about their debut album, New Brigade.

These guys are a post-punk band from Denmark that utilize very intense vocals and instrumentation filtered through brisk and to-the-point tracks. Seriously, the length of this entire album is 24 minutes, so be prepared for songs that will not beat around the bush, AT ALL. However, that’s not a bad thing and I think it actually is what makes this album work so well. From start to finish you hardly have any time to catch your breath as you are being a witness to punk at blazing speeds.


What comes through quite surprisingly on this record is how much depth in terms of atmosphere is present. The album is absolutely drenched in chaos; the vocals are wild and fierce, the drums are tumbling all over the place the guitars are constantly being thrashed and shredded. All of these elements blend together like a giant ball of madness, and that sound is there from start to finish. The sound you get while listening to this album is dark, but at the same time it has a charm to it that makes it seem less intimidating. Maybe it’s just the fact that I find this sort of inaudible vocal delivery to always be amusing, especially in songs that are this fast.

Actually, when you really look at the heart of these songs you will find a lot of catchy melodies. The hook of “Broken Bone” is honestly good enough to be on any alternative rock radio station, if maybe the music surrounding it wasn’t quite as abrasive. Sometimes even catchier than the melodies are the guitar riffs. The opening riff of “Collapse” sounds like the highest note you can hit on a guitar being stretched out and abused for as long as it can possibly take. It just kind of soars over the anarchy below, as sort of a siren that nobody really gives a frig about.

When looking at the consistency of the album, it is almost to the point of redundancy. These songs are all very similar, bar some little touches that make them distinguishable, but it’s the speed and intensity that makes that fault microscopic. If this had been an album of 35+ minutes rather than 24 minutes I think it could have gotten quite repetitive. As it stands, the songs show what their made of for a brief amount of time before the next song punches you in the stomach with the next bag of tricks.

New Brigade is a fantastic debut album that finds a band miraculously heralding a sound that feels unique even if you know where the influences are coming from. They play together like bands of several decades of work together would, and they exude such a confidence that is infectious. It isn’t often that you come across an album with such a brief runtime that feels so jammed packed of memorable moments and inspiration, but these guys completely hit the nail on the head here. This thing is a post-punk roller coaster that is nothing but twisting and turning loops, and when it comes to its conclusion you’ll be jumping off and hopping back in line all over again.

Release Date: January 7, 2011

Genres:  Punk Rock, Post-punk, Hardcore



My Bloody Valentine – mbv (2013) Review

Here it is, the moment everyone has been waiting over two decades for! Entire musical genres, bands and styles have come and gone during the absence of My Bloody Valentine (jeez), and now they come back in a time where shoegaze is a long and distant memory. The one thing people talk about the most when it comes to MBV is the album Loveless, which is now hailed as a classic and a must-hear for shoegaze fans. How could they possibly live up to the expectations that were put on the follow-up? I don’t know, but I’ll get this out of the way right now: they did.

Leading up to this album there were a lot of rumors and speculation going on. Kevin Shields (lead guitars/vocals) said late last year that a new MBV album was almost finished. Then earlier this year news broke that the album had been finished and was all ready to go. Still, some time passed with no more updates on the album. MBV fans are patient – they have to be – so they put their hands on their laps and waited like good little fans. Then, suddenly, in a recent MBV performance Kevin Shields said the new album would be released in 2-3 days, which lead to a Saturday, February 2nd. They released it on their website that crashed thanks to the huge amount of people trying to access, which created a chaos that honestly isn’t too different from the style of music they make. However, eventually the smoke cleared and the album was finally available to be listened to.

As the album begins with the song “She Found Now” we are met with a near seamless continuation of Loveless. Heavy distortion, repetitive and fuzzy guitars and mellow vocals all come together in a sound we all come to expect from MBV. As the track progresses we get more and more layers of guitars plucking in harmony, creating a sort of orchestra of guitars that sends the track off into the sunset. This continues throughout the first few tracks, though like with any great MBV songs they have little touches that make them stand out. “Only Tomorrow” contains such an instance; with a sound that pops up regularly that resembles a UFO taking off. This all gives way to a gorgeous 2-minute plus instrumental that has a solid and catchy guitar riff.

What I find to be incredible about mbv is that it sounds like it could have came out in 1992. The mixing of the album and the elements that are present make it all feel like nothing has changed within the band, and that no time has passed at all. This album almost feels like a time machine; transporting everyone back to when shoegaze was at its peak. MBV did not miss a beat with this album; picking up right where they left off and executing just as well as they did over 20 years ago. That alone is a monumental accomplishment that many bands have tried and failed to achieve.

It isn’t until the fourth track “Is This and Yes” that we start to hear some interesting shifts in sound that really push the band to unexplored territories. The track is distortion and reverb free, the loudest thing being a somber keyboard that drifts in the background. There is a soft beeping sound that tiptoes between the foreground and the background while Bilinda Butcher sings very soothingly. When listening to it I couldn’t help but feel like I was lying on the grass and gazing up at the stars at night. It’s possibly the most relaxing and peaceful song the band has ever done, and “New You” continues the surprisingly clear and calm atmosphere a bit later into the album, as well. It’s hard to imagine MBV songs being peaceful, but that is exactly what comes through on a couple of these songs.

In Another Way” is a definite highlight of the album; starting with very strange and chaotic feedback before giving away to a MASSIVE drumbeat that gives the song such an epic feel to it. Those drums never let up while Bilinda sings hauntingly in the middle of the madness. The song continues to impress when it drops to a clear instrumental section consisting of an angelic synth line and simple guitar strumming that is altogether stunning. The next track, “Nothing Is” takes the chaos from the previous track and ups the ante into an all out assault on guitar and drums. The track itself is quite repetitive; with the same guitar strumming and drumbeats throughout the entire runtime. However, the subtle shifts in instrumentation volume and placement in the soundscape are what make it mesmerizing.

None of this, however, could possibly prepare you for the albums closer, “Wonder 2”. This is the only way I can describe it, so bear with me because I’m gonna try my best (oh that’s real reassuring). A distorted airplane that swirls around you while distant then in-your-face guitar squalls and frantic and chaotic drumming hit you like a monsoon. This track completely devours you and you feel as though you are in the eye of a hurricane, though instead of screaming and crying for your sad and pathetic life you are in complete awe. It’s one of the most mind-blowingly unique listening experiences I have ever had; something that took me completely by surprise and stuck with me long after the album had finished. This is just about the best way you could possibly end an album, and thus concludes mbv on a fantastic note.

When all is said and done, the over 20 year wait for this album feels completely worth it. The album is both familiar and new; beginning as a continuation of Loveless before transforming into something else entirely. There is so much ambition on this record and it is all fully-realized and focused into an album of ear-crushing brilliance. I know it seems like nonsense to make a comparison in terms of quality to Loveless so soon, but I have no doubt in my mind that mbv is on the same level as that album. Only time will tell if I like it more or less, but the fact that I even have that indecision is a testament to the quality of the album and a testament to what a phenomenal return we got from My Bloody Valentine.

Release Date: February 2, 2013

Genres: Shoegaze, Noise Rock, Alternative Rock




My Bloody Valentine Release New Album

We can now all breathe a sigh of relief! It has been over two decades, but the new My Bloody Valentine album is available now. The album, titled ‘m b v‘ contains 9 tracks. The website it’s available at is currently crashing thanks to the fans all jumping on at once, so it may be a little while before anyone actually gets to hear the damn thing. Oh how they tease us!

Here’s the tracklisting:

1. she found now
2. only tomorrow
3. who sees you
4. is this and yes
5. if i am
6. new you.
7. in another way
8. nothing is
9. wonder 2

I can just imagine the swarms of initial reactions that will be hitting the web soon, and everybody will be comparing it to Loveless and how it does or doesn’t live up to it. I will be joining in on the action, as well! As soon as I get my digital hands on this album I will get a review up as soon as possible. You can buy the album here, though good luck getting through tonight!

Silent Hill Downpour (2012) Review

The Silent Hill series was once the pinnacle of survival horror in the gaming world. It had a ridiculously creepy setting, dark and complex characters and some of the best stories known to the genre. However, it has since been on the decline; releasing game after game that just kept the series spinning in circles and scrambling to figure out how to stay relevant in an increasingly irrelevant genre. Then comes along the newest addition to the series; a game that goes right back to the series’ roots while also expanding on the setting and offering perhaps the most dark story of the series yet. Silent Hill Downpour is the game that finally puts the series back on the map.

The game starts with perhaps the most shocking intro of any game in the series. You are Murphy Pendleton, a prisoner at Ryall State Prison, though you don’t know exactly what he is in for. You then witness Murphy murder a man in the showers in one of the most brutal killings I have ever seen in a video game, ESPECIALLY considering it is all done by the player. You have no idea what is going on and you are instantly unsure if Murphy is good or bad. It’s clear right from the very beginning that this game is aiming to shock just as much as the series did originally over a decade ago.

When Murphy is being transported to another prison, the bus crashes and we end up in – you guessed it – Silent Hill. It still has that trademark look and feel to it but with some key differences. When it starts to downpour (it’s in the name for a reason) the enemies become even more frequent and hostile. This adds a whole different element of fear to the game, because you know that if you are out in the open you need to run for your life. The fog obscures your vision as you try to escape what lurks behind you, but regardless of where you go, nowhere is safe. Atmosphere has always been a strength of these series and it continues to be here.

An important component of the game is when you suddenly shift from the real world to the “other” world, which for all intents and purposes is a living and breathing hell. As soon as you arrive there you are almost immediately being stalked by this glowing spirit ball of death (so I call it) that will destroy you if it catches up. This leads to some surprisingly fast-paced chase scenes in which you are running through corridors, up stairways and knocking over things just to try and impede the progress of your ghastly stalker. These sequences are some of the highlights of the game, as these sudden rushes of speed into the unknown are very nerve-wracking.

   Murphy running from the glowing spirit ball of death

The one thing about Downpourthat is still perhaps a bit too similar to others in the series is the combat system. It still feels very stiff sometimes and can hamper your style of playing because the controls are too simplistic and slow. You can make the argument that it adds to the intensity of each fight, but more times than not you can be become aggravated because a normal human in that situation wouldn’t move like a friggin’ robot. It isn’t QUITE as bad as it was in past games, but it still feels like the black sheep in terms of features present in this game.

This leads to the storage system, which is limited but is one thing that still works really well for the series. While you can carry a handgun or a shotgun, you will find that throughout most of the game you will be switching between fire-axes, lamps, frying pans, rakes, crowbars, etc., as you desperately try to fend off swarms of Silent Hill’s very own residents. All of these items break, which adds a lot of tension to the combat system. You might be holding an axe and feel as though you have the upper hand, but when halfway through the fight it snaps in half, you are suddenly s***ting your pants.

Speaking of s***ting your pants; let’s talk about the evil waiting to kill you in Silent Hill. The most common enemies are these crazed and maniacal women that scream, (I call them Screaming Mimi’s) causing you to be temporarily stunned while they mosey on in and smack you. What is most horrifying about them is that they are, in a way, Silent Hill’s law enforcement. You read that right. While you roam the sick and twisted streets of Silent Hill, you will often hear a police siren in the distance. If the cop car the siren belongs to catches up to you, you are suddenly facing several Screaming Mimi’s at once, along with anyone else they brought along for the ride. Rounding out the cast of demented freaks is a wolf-man, giant mutants, living mannequins and a few other lovely folks that I won’t shed any light on. Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.

A common occurrence

The exploration factor in Downpouris fantastic, and definitely made the town come alive. As you wander around to your next objective, you’ll often come across optional areas that you can access. These areas are also extremely well done, not seeming like thrown together side-missions but rather a fleshing out of the mood and atmosphere the game so expertly crafts. There is one particular instance where you climb through a basement window where the crying of a woman can be heard that was extremely creepy. There are numerous areas like this and also ones that are completely different that are either part of the games many side quests or are just there to freak you out and make you want to run back with your tail between your legs.

In terms of plot, this game definitely has one of the best in the series. Throughout the game you are learning about why Murphy Pendleton killed that man in the showers, and even wondering yourself if he is a good guy or a bad guy. It’s a really nice twist because not only are you surrounded by evil, but the very character you are using may be evil as well. This is all brought to life magnificently by great writing and terrific voice acting that brings these characters to life and gives them immense personality. It was very compelling putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together in this story and figuring out what all of the scattered plot elements lead up to. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that the payoff does not disappoint.

If there is one issue with the game that is more serious than all others, it is the frame rate. Sometimes there will be hiccups in combat that will throw off your timing, resulting in an unfair hit. Other times, you will be exploring a new area and you will experience a few seconds of stuttering. These aren’t huge problems that break the game, but they are definitely noticeable and perhaps could have been buffed out with a bit more development time. There was this one hallway in a building towards the end of the game that caused severe lag whenever I walked through it. Luckily circumstances that severe were few and far between. The load times can occasionally be a bit long, but I only remember sitting there looking at the clock once or twice.

Silent Hill Downpour is a breath of familiar but surprisingly fresh air that rejuvenates the series and reminds all of us what survival horror is truly capable of. Throughout the entire play-through you will find yourself extremely tense and cautious of what waits in the dark or on the other side of the door you’re about to open. It’s these simple but timeless elements that make this series so effectively ominous. Resident Evil, take note; this is how you continue a long-running series, not by stripping it of its personality but by expanding upon it. Downpour proves that this old town still has plenty of thrills and shrills left to offer all those foolishly willing to pay another fun (and horrifying) visit to Silent Hill.

Welcome to Silent Hill

Release Date: March 13, 2012

Genres: Survival Horror, Action, Suspense