Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: Hitman Aboslution

When I reviewed Dishonored, I opened it up by saying that the stealth genre is practically dead and that the old guard have degenerated into action games with the odd stealth segment. A big part of me was very disappointed when it turned out that Hitman: Absolution would follow in the footsteps stamped out by Splinter Cell: Conviction. Of course, IO Interactive would be quick to say that it's designed in a way to be easier for newcomers to play while retaining some design elements for old fogeys to still enjoy. However, what I ended up getting after a while is that it appeals to nobody, save for those who find games with more flashy set pieces than actual gameplay to be good game design. The biggest thing is that it no longer has that nuanced playground feel that the earlier Hitman games had. It feels more like the latest instalment of the Splinter Cell franchise with its added emphasis on tactical espionage, or the newest instalment of the Metal Gear franchise with its added emphasis on sneaking and cutscenes.

Speaking of cutscenes, Hitman games were never really known for having their storylines take anywhere near as much precedence as the gameplay, nor was it ever anything more than “here is target, assassinate it because they have it coming; yours truly, The Agency”. When Absolution gives it the old college try, I have to be honest... it just doesn't work out as well as it would like to. Instead of The Agency just giving Agent 47 targets to kill, they're telling him to find Diana, who had gone rogue and is threatening to expose them for what they are. You're also tasked with finding Victoria, a teenage girl that was placed under Diana's care. Agent 47 does recover Victoria and places her in a Catholic orphanage, only for her to get kidnapped by Dexter Industries. From there, Agent 47 has to recover her from those evil people!

Okay, sounds like a decent enough setup, but for crying out loud, the execution is laughably terrible at best and just plain terrible at worst! Making Agent 47 more like a badass action hero with a sympathetic side rather than a cold, calculated hitman was a poor decision. It's mainly because, at the end of the day, he's really not a compelling character at all in this game. He simply exists as a generic action hero with no development or real personality to call his own. Really, everybody in this game falls under the generic action character tropes to such an extent that it baffles me why IO Interactive decided to focus more attention on the story.. sort of trying to make a Metal Gear Solid game out of the Hitman license. See, the thing with Metal Gear Solid is that it has crazy concepts, erratic pacing and more exposition than forward moving story. As poorly told as it may seem, at least Metal Gear Solid keeps things interesting. Hitman: Absolution, on the other hand, seems more content with acting like an action movie with a hint of espionage. But at the end of the day, the story is just terrible. It does nothing to hold your attention and just serves to waste your time.

Really, it does a great disservice to the gameplay. Because it's a more story driven experience with personal vendettas, Absolution could either have a lot of fluff with very few assassinations, or balance out the setups with the assassinations themselves. Sadly, this game is more about sneaking around and infiltrating where your eventual target(s) will be, and then taking down said targets because the story said so. “Okay,” I thought, “maybe this game will make it interesting, right?” Well, not quite. The shooting mechanics are touchier than a Vatican daycare unless you use the mark and execute feature. Sure, you can automatically get into cover, but between sensitive camera movement and the lack of bite in shooting guards unless you use the Instinct feature, it often feels like it's not worth shooting anybody, even when you have to... unless you're using the Instinct feature, but I'll get to that in a sec. The stealth mechanics are fine as you can sneak around with no real problem, although a lot of this is just so you can make it to the door at the end of each segment of each chapter with a disguise system is not all that well executed.

Oh yes, the disguise system, the one thing that makes Hitman Hitman, is not all that well executed folks and a lot of that is due to the upgraded AI. Not only are they more relentless than ever when they spot you, but they also seem to have eagle vision as they can spot you from like fifty feet away, regardless of whether you're wearing your trademark black suit or wearing just the right disguise. Even more impressive is that they can spot you if you're wearing a mask that'd be suitable for their ranks, in crowds and even when your back is turned to them, it makes one wonder what is the point of wearing a disguise if, for the most part, you get spotted anyway. Well, if you use the Instinct mode, you can cover your face. While on the subject of Instinct mode, not only can you hide your face, but you seem to have the power of x-ray vision – seeing through walls, detecting what kind of person each human being around you is (whether they be citizens or targets) and also seeing what objects are interactive – as well as the power to suddenly shoot like an expert marksman. Through that, only then does the disguise system work the way that it ought to. Sure, if you're trying to blend into a gang, it makes sense that they'd know their fellow members and would bash in or shoot up anybody who tried to sneak in, but it doesn't make as much sense for fellow policemen and SWAT members to do so, at least not without seeing their clearance. I'm pretty sure not every policeman and SWAT member knows every single workmate as some can actually be hired into their ranks under everyone else's noses! From there, you'll be relying on sneaking your way through the game. No IO Interactive, this isn't Metal Gear Solid, it's a Hitman game - the idea is to use the disguises to infiltrate the levels, not just Solid Snake your way through each level!

But that's not even mentioning what they've done to the assassinating. Oh, to begin with, it's not all doom and gloom as one of your first assassinations takes place within a crowded place and you have a couple of methods of which to carry it out. Should you deliver poison food, or should you set up the car bomb? I was like “nice guys, at least you deliver the goods where they count”, but I was clearly cheering a bit too early. Why? For one thing, Agent 47 seems to have a bad habit of leaving his toys behind at the end of each chapter because you begin every single one with a pistol that's louder than the mix for Death Magnetic. You'll find a sniper rifle in one chapter that you can use to snipe a target if you want to, but you'll have no sniper rifle in the next chapter regardless of whether you picked it up before or not. You're left at the level's mercy as it provides you with the methods to kill your targets. Sure, I can live without the loadouts because the crappy story established that this is personal, but why can't I keep what I've found? I thought that the story was an ongoing one, not just a series of assassinations set at different times. Meanwhile, Blood Money and Silent Assassin let you keep what you've found and yet... each assassination felt like their own separate things while only having minor things link each assassination together.

Furthermore, it feels like you don't really have as many methods of which to carry out your assassinations. A lot of the fun of the Hitman series comes from utilizing what you can find in a way that kills your target, and exploring big levels to find the different means of carrying out said assassinations is the cherry on the cake. Not quite the case here – between shrunken down levels that are usually linear and are far less interesting to explore, coupled with them being significantly less loaded with killer tools (god, even Codename 47 had more methods to utilize), there isn't nearly as much satisfaction to be gained from carrying out any of these assassinations. Sure, there are options in general, but the overall replay value is at an almost all time low because you're given so little to utilize. What, a whopping two, maybe three methods if it even lets you assassinate somebody? Bitchin'! Of course, that's IF you carry them out yourself and not have the game do it for you in some flashy cutscene, complete with slow motion. Whether that's via the mark and execute feature or in a cutscene, it's like the game wants to take control away from you. If it wasn't for the sneaking around, it's almost as if the game wants to play itself... and that's really my biggest grievance not just with Hitman: Absolution, but a lot of modern games as a whole. They seem to enjoy relinquishing control away from you so that they can either play out a boring cutscene or show your player character shooting some fools in slow motion, complete with explosions.

The soundtrack is... okay, I guess. Usually, Hitman games have soundtracks that blend intriguing soundscapes with cinematically exciting orchestrations (this was before every second game overused it to the point where you play a Super Nintendo game or pop on some Iron Maiden just to get away from it). Here however, the quieter songs are literally just there in the background, not really doing much if anything to inspire mystery and intrigue. The more “exciting” songs literally just go in one ear and out the other and don't really make any of the action set pieces or even the action oriented sections of play any more enjoyable. The voice acting is at least good though. Well, good in the sense that it doesn't sound like crap despite such a terrible story. I at least applaud these Hollywood actors for giving it the old college try.

I get what Hitman: Absolution was going for – a more story driven experience with Agent 47 assassinating for personal reasons. This could've been fantastic, but instead, it's a mediocre stealthy action game that focuses more on flashy set pieces than actually assassinating, getting immersed into the experience or even having a modicum of fun. The stealth mechanics themselves are fine, but with a broken disguise mechanic, uninspired level designs and that disturbing feeling that the game wants to play itself, what you end up with at the end of the day is a game that doesn't quite do it regardless of whether you're a Hitman newbie or an old fogey who loves the series. Oh, the game looks fantastic and the sound design is alright, but everything else makes this feel like some low grade Metal Gear Solid knockoff, only without anything that makes that series worth playing.

4/10 (Below Average) pre-disguise patch, 6/10 post-diguise patch

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: Jak & Daxter The Precursor Legacy

Jak And Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is not only a precursor to the excellence that is Jak 3, but also a reminder that platformers can still be relevant even on a new system. Well, Silent Hill 2, Onimusha and Resident Evil: Code Veronica were praised and they used archaic tank controls, why the fuck can't Naughty Dog make a 3D platformer that's like Banjo Kazooie? Better yet, Naughty Dog made a 3D platformer, but with mostly seamless transitions between levels almost like a sandbox game ala Grand Theft Auto 3, which is very much the opposite of the overly linear Crash Bandicoot series. Being the tail end of the majestic 2001 lineup that made the PS2 relevant outside of being a cheap DVD player, Jak And Daxter certainly left a lasting impression by having a big world to play in and a light hearted atmosphere with some fantastic writing that still keeps peoples' spirits high even to this day. It isn't necessarily the greatest game of all time, but it definitely gets a few things right to make up for what doesn't seem as cool or interesting, whether you were playing it on Christmas day in 2001 or you randomly decided to relive some old memories or wanted to see what the big deal was in 2012.

There is a story, but very much like your typical 3D platformer, it's filler - basically, Jak and Daxter explore an island full of Dark Eco known as Misty Island because they have an itch for some adventuring. Unfortunately, Daxter is knocked into a pool of Dark Eco and is transformed into a weasel looking otter sort of thing, and they escape back home. From there, they have to find Power Cells to turn Daxter back into an elven human kind of thing while investigating the power of Eco and beings known as Lurkers, the latter of which had chased Jak and Daxter off of Misty Island. Whenever you get to certain locations, you are given bits of the overarching conflict, but other than that, there isn't much of a story to give a shit about. All it really amounts to is "shit happened, do something about it now". No character arcs or anything, just collect Power Cells. It's a bit of a shame because the characters have a metric fuckton of personality - Daxter's wisecracking one liners are often at odds with the green sage Samos and his daughter Keira as there's a fair amount of banter between them. Then again, Daxter's constant need to be a smartass is because Jak is a mute. Unlike Nathan Drake who is a smartass because survey said smartasses are endearing characters, Daxter is a wacky cartoon character whose one liners offset Jak's lack of lines. Every other character you meet along the way either have their own troubles or are bad guys, but their dialogue just seems so... out there that you can listen to them and feel like some wacky cartoon is playing out. FUCK I love this! It's good enough to help you overlook the fact that there's really not much of a story playing out.

Jak And Daxter is very much a platformer, meaning that you'll be running, jumping, double jumping and doing this kneeling slide punch thing that'd bloody up your knees if you did it in real life in order to find the Power Cells. Oh, and you can spin around and use Daxter to hit enemies. The aim is to collect enough Power Cells to power up each of the devices you'll use in order to get to different areas of the world, and the method of which to get them involve running around each area to drunkenly stumble upon them. Some of the Power Cells are in plain sight while others have you doing some precision jumping across gaps and onto moving platforms, or using vents of Blue Eco to activate some Precursor technology that lets you either enter Precursor temples or jump a million feet high. Said Blue Eco can also magnetize nearby Precursor Orbs, a shitload of which you'll need to find in order to acquire some Power Cells from some Precursor Statues. Each area also has a set of Scout Flies inside metal boxes that you'll need to collect in order to acquire a Power Cell for said areas... because they track it down or something and Keira is able to magically deliver it to you. You'll also have the odd boss to fight and... they're alright. Nothing particularly special, just either smack them with Daxter or head inside the Yellow Eco vent conveniently placed nearby to unload with fireballs. They're very formulaic and it becomes evident that fighting is not Jak's forte. Nope, it's all about the double jumps, the rolling jumps and riding the occasional vehicle around to collect orbs and cells.

If you feel a strange sense of deja vu while playing through this game, then not to worry - even when I played this at the bright young age of 10 years old, I felt like I was playing the Sony equivalent of Banjo Kazooie and at twice that age, it felt like I was playing Banjo Kazooie if the joints were greased up and the levels were shorter to placate the sudden need to make everything feel like one giant fucking level. There's no hub level so to speak, so you're not entering levels via caves, mini buildings and paintings. In fact, the closest thing to entering a level is taking a boat to Misty Island or riding a gondola to Snowy Mountain. At the same time, this approach to level design gives it a somewhat more distinct flavor, especially after every third Nintendo 64 game was "inspired" by Super Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie, not to mention the fact that we're dealing with a somewhat more powerful system than the Nintendo 64 in the Playstation 2 and there was a huge need to show it off. Much like the Playstation 3 and eventually (hopefully, even) the Playstation 4, the Playstation 2 initially did fuck all to impress the public - maybe except existing in a market where DVD players required a second mortgage to purchase - so there was a need for third party developers like Capcom, Konami, Naughty Dog and eventually Insomniac to step it up and release something that validates the purchase of a PS2 as a gaming system. Producing a seamless sandbox world with the formula of a 3D platformer instead of making 2D platformers with 3D graphics was Naughty Dog's way of saying "look guys, the PS2 is a grand old purchase for new and exciting games with huge, interesting worlds - fuck Banjo Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64 and all these old ass games, this is the future you pricks!". Consequently, that train of thought transpired to the Uncharted games where they basically went "look guys, the PS3 is the best console ever - I mean look at these graphics and these gripping action set pieces, you can't get that on a dusty hunk of junk PS2 you fucks!".

Funny enough, Jak And Daxter's biggest claim to fame is also one of its weaker points. While other 3D platformers clearly had levels, they also had levels that were fantastically designed. It says something when only a few levels are well designed while the rest seemed to have gone with the motions. I mean Misty Island certainly felt like a place you wouldn't want to go and Snowy Mountain certainly had its freezing cold caves and literally breathless heights, but fuck me, if that jungle level or the beach are considered good levels, then I suppose Rusty Bucket Bay and the Water Temple are masterpieces in level design! Simply put, a lot of the levels either seem to go with the motions or feel constricted by small size limits. It's no secret that the PS2 has the random access memory of an Alzheimer's sufferer - some levels had to be the size of a fire ant or have as much content as a McDonald's meal has nutrition. Meanwhile, because they're so separated from the rest of the world, Misty Island and Snowy Mountain have more things to do in them than simply running around to stumble onto Power Cells. Stuff like exploring icy caves, using vehicles or riding an ostrich-like animal to get to places Jak alone couldn't and much more - these levels leave more of an impression than the others. Same with Spider Cave - because of its blander color schemes, there's a little more to it like a mining facility and spiders so they can design something more interesting to make Power Cells a bit more exciting to get. That's not mentioning the Lost Precursor City - holy shit, there is a whole lot of shit to do! But again, it's because it's far removed from the rest of the world, meaning it doesn't have to deal with arbitrary constrictions so that it doesn't bugger up the game's processing or add in loading times all over the place. The Zoomer also sees some use, whether the level is like that of a tapeworm's home environment where you have to simply make it to the end and smash Scout Fly boxes, or it's a more open level that has you engaging in time trials and attacking flying monsters, on top of other things. Other than that... well, there are parts of levels that are kind of cool. I guess. Kind of. I don't know, I just went and did shit the whole time so I could say I have Power Cells.

On that same token, the graphics may not be the stuff of legends like Onimusha or Devil May Cry were in 2001, but it did have its own style that works very well nevertheless. In fact, its more cartoony style aged a hell of a lot better than the gritty realistic pre-rendered camera angles present in those two games because it's still at least aesthetically presentable. Sure, the models look like they were constructed out of clay and grease and the environments aren't much more detailed, but detail (as well as individual level sizes) was a necessary sacrifice so that the game wouldn't lag like a fat guy on The Biggest Loser. The animation is not just fluid; it's also exaggerated as there tends to be quite a lot of animation usually implemented for the sake of animating, and yet, it still manages to look impressive. Most early PS2 games that strive more for realism like Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2 have decent animation and are technically more impressive, but Jak And Daxter's boisterous animation style is more interesting to look at than games whose graphical styles have been topped the very next year.

The sound design is a bit of a mixed bag. On one end, the soundtrack is pretty mediocre. Outside of the song that plays during the title sequence which has been embedded into my memory banks since I first played it, there's nothing that really stands out. There isn't much in the way of ambiance either, it feels like it's only there. But that first song... it sounds like a poppy tribal drum beat, but you could dance to that shit. It's light hearted enough to give you the impression that it's a light hearted adventure, and Daxter's dance during that only adds to it. But yeah, the rest of the soundtrack is pretty mediocre. Thankfully, the voice acting makes up for it. Jak's, for instance... okay, the voice acting is actually pretty good when in line with the atmosphere. Everyone is loud and exaggerated to great effect, going well with their wacky go lucky personalities.

Jak And Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is a game that ranges from Kenji Eno levels of ambitious to restrained like an S&M model. At its worst, it's a playable game that simply goes through the motions set by games with better level designs. At its best, it's a game with a lot going for it, one you look forward to replaying at a later point due to some good levels and fantastic writing. It's a game that's one part awesome one part mediocre. Ironically, the best parts of this game is not the fact that it's one big level; it's during the levels which are far removed from the rest of the world that manage to keep one engaged. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't dig the idea of a 3D platformer that had a sandbox world and I'd be lying if I said I'd prefer it if Jak 2 and 3 didn't play like how they did. So the best way to put it is that the most that it needs is a more refined sandbox design and a better story to make the writing even better than fantastic.

7/10 (Good)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review: DmC Devil May Cry

The one thing that captures the attention of any potential buyer is what's on the box. As much as people bang on about looking up reviews and trailers, a cover can sometimes seriously speak volumes about what a game will contain. Having Devil May Cry on the box with some black haired guy who has the same fashion sense as Dante from that series made me think "hmm, awesome, we get to play as somebody completely different". But then I remember long before the game came out that the guy on the box... is actually a redesign of Dante because Ninja Theory, the developers Capcom trusted to continue the Devil May Cry lineage with, wanted to inject a different flavor to the franchise because a more western approach was necessary after Devil May Cry 4 turned out to be nowhere near as good as Devil May Cry 3 and had too much anime shit in it to be a coincidence. One way to do so was to change Dante's hair from anime silver to a more realistic shade of black. So with a change in designs and mood, how does Ninja Theory execute this game? Well, it's not bad as it has a solid combat engine, but there are a few too many missteps

In this reimagining of the Devil May Cry universe, a place known as Limbo City is secretly controlled by devils, advertising soft drinks and all this other shit to keep the population under their control. Dante, a really cool guy who isn't at all a Gary Stu or anything, is haunted by the demons inside his subconscious, but it doesn't stop him from going to nightclubs having sex with heaps of chicks. According to a mysterious woman in this nightclub known as Kat, Dante is in danger because she can see Limbo for what it really is. She's a part of a vigilante group that fights against the tyranny of the devils and wants Dante to join the fight. When the rest of the group meet him, they basically tell him that he's basically the only one who can save them from the government conspiracy. From there, you stop giving a shit about the story because what it winds up having is a grade school level of understanding of conspiracy theories like the media brainwashing us and there being a secret higher power controlling us.

That, and a main character whose dick is constantly sucked by every other character under the sun - I mean holy shit, the other characters treat Dante as their lord and fucking savior! What's so special about him? Oh, because he's powerful? Aren't the rest of this rag tag group of rebels strong too? But wait, then they can't inject their deepest personal fantasies into the story! See, Dante is Temeem's self insert character. He's a bad boy who says "fuck the government" flashing dual middle fingers on either side while having sex with girls left and right, but they insert some inner demons to try and make him more relatable. The problem, however, is that he's just a giant douche. Granted, Tameem's a giant douche whenever he talks shit about Japanese games while talking up DmC as the next big masterpiece in gaming so I guess it makes sense to make Dante like this, but when you aim to make a character relateable, you can't really turn them into complete pricks. His personality suits the story very well... in that it's got the kind of writing you'd expect from a kid who's just discovered atheism.

I don't know what's sadder - the fact that I just dedicated a paragraph to our main character or the fact that I have little to nothing worth saying about the other characters? Nobody else really shines as anything other than an accessory to stroke Dante's ego more often than not, and when they're not stroking his ego, they're unloading exposition about the big bad government conspiracy. People can criticize the old Dante for being a one dimensional character, but he's a GOOD one dimensional character. He wasn't trying to be relatable; he's too busy kicking ass and dispensing one liners to really care about relatability. New Dante? Well, he does roughly the same things... just not as well, especially his one liners that are more cringeworthy than cool in that "SO BAD IT'S GOOD" kind of way. Oh, and he tries to have depth that winds up being shallower than a fucking kiddy pool. Yes, the old DMC games have shit stories too, but they don't focus on it so much. They introduce and then end each level with cutscenes. That's it. Here in new DMC however, the cutscenes are longer and far more common. The more space a story takes up, the better it ought to be, and considering its lack of being any good, well, it's really crap.

But I can't spend all day ragging on the shit story so let's talk about how it plays. It seems to play a lot like the older Devil May Cry games, but with some big differences. Instead of having a variety of weapons that you'll switch on the fly every now and again, you'll have three types of weapons at your disposal that you can use in tandem with one another to create some interesting combos. You have your usual Rebellion sword and Ebony & Ivory pistols, but there's also Osiris the angel scythe (which is faster) and Arbiter the large demon sword (which is slow but very strong) to keep things interesting. You can also use the Angel chain to pull yourself towards objects and the Demon chain to pull stuff towards you. Being able to use all of these together makes for some potentially interesting combat scenarios.

Unfortunately, there are enemies that'll be immune to either an Angel or a Demon weapon, and this is where we start having problems. Because of how hypnotic style experimentation is, it undermines how mediocre combat really is until you're arbitrarily limited to only being able to use two weapons. Most enemies, when they don't get stuck in a loop or just stand there, really aren't that hard to read and counter. The only time you may have trouble is when learning the control scheme as it is tricky to get the hang of, having to hold certain buttons to use certain attacks and styles. Beyond that, they're basically slicing bags and hardly ever offer any challenge. From there, I expected the bosses to at least make up for that, but honestly, these are some rather underwhelming bosses. They're not terrible as they do work in a technical sense, but again, it feels like the combat engine has gone to waste on what basically amounts to mediocre bosses. The basic idea is to dodge their attacks and hit them in the weak spot. Most action games can still make things feel frantic and exhilerating under those circumstances, but only half of DmC's bosses really do that and even then, none of them are all that challenging if you have any hand eye coordination. If my only issue was the lack of difficulty, this would still be a good game, but the bigger problem here is that every enemy and nearly every boss are all just a complete chore to fight. You have this brilliant combat engine that's ultimately wasted on even bosses that feel more like cannon fodder than an actual interesting challenge.

What's this, there's a Heaven Or Hell difficulty mode where everything dies in one hit including you? Oh okay, so there's one difficulty mode that offers even a modicum of challenge as you have to make sure to avoid getting hit by anything and everything. What's that, Dante Must Die mode is here too? Well, that's fantastic, and it's actually somewhat challenging too as enemies dish out more damage and I've also noticed that they aren't as stupid as they are on the hardest difficulty mode that's initially available. And what is this that I'm hearing about Hell And Heaven mode where you die with one hit but the enemies all have full health and adopt their difficulty patterns from the Son Of Sparda difficulty mode? I'm crazy enough for this challenge! The only problem, however, is that you need to play through this game first on one of the initial difficulty modes, and then the Son Of Sparda difficulty mode before unlocking Dante Must Die, Heaven Or Hell and Hell And Heaven. So basically, you'll have to play through a game with boring piss easy enemies and bosses TWICE before you can play in a mode where shit actually gets interesting? Son Of Sparda, by the way, isn't that much harder than the initial three difficulty modes, so this second playthrough also feels like a chore. Maybe not as boring of a chore, but by that, the initial appeal of the combat and designs has worn off on you and you see everything for what they truly are - mediocre, if not maybe a cut above it. It's really when you finally get to play through the harder modes that this game truly shows how fun it can be, and it's... moderately fun. Now, I can understand getting newbies into the swing of things, but for Christ's sake, this feels like wasted potential for everyone else!

I've mentioned designs a little while ago and I feel like I need to explain why they're something worth a damn. Well, let's just say that DmC is a very nice looking game. Not perfect by any means - Dante looks pretty goofy if you ask me and sometimes, the colors become a bit too saturated and actually hurt my eyes after a while - but Limbo City and the various foes Dante has to take down look pretty fucking good. The various twists and turns Limbo City makes to mess with you via screwing with the buildings and terrain gives you the feeling that not all is as it seems, and the further into the game you go, the less far out they'll seem when you're at abysses and inside mainframes. No, not inside mainframes like in a Deus Ex game - more like the inside of broadcast media. There are plenty of interesting things to be seen here and the textures are good as well. The enemies and bosses are pretty twisted too as they take many different devilish shapes and forms. They're rather creative and it's a shame that for the most part, that's the best part about them - their designs. But a word of advice - install it onto your HDD because this has a habit of freezing if you don't have it installed.

The sound design is also pretty good. The voice acting works about as well as it could when given the crap writing and actually, these guys manage to make the most out of it. Dante definitely doesn't sound all that silly, which is a surprise after looking at him and reading some of his dialogue, but his voice actor at least tries to make his cringeworthy one liners sound campy. In fact, everybody tries their hardest to either be serious when necessary, or silly at other points, and I give them points for doing a good job of that. When it comes to the soundtrack, it's a good mix of dubstep and metal to pump you up during the game, which makes sense - Capcom's Devil May Cry games had a gritty industrial soundtrack to pump you up as well, and Ninja Theory's DmC manages to accomplish the same thing. I'm not normally a dubstep fan, but it's clear that it has its places - nightclubs and action scenes where adrenaline is absolutely necessary. Overall, the sound design is great.

It's easy to point my finger of frustration towards the immense amount of hype generated by Ninja Theory and all of the good press it's getting from "professional" "reviewers", but really, it's how much potential it had to actually live up to the monolithic amount of hype and the failure to reach such potential that resulted in my frustration towards this game. In its current form, it's got some mad potential because the combat engine is great and the designs are brilliant - I love Limbo City and how it warps around like it does at times! But I can't sit here and lie to you guys... actually fighting enemies and bosses feels like a chore until you unlock the hardest difficulty modes, and at that point, it's too little too late because while I admired the designs during my first playthrough, not much else really did anything for me. It's not so much the hype that let me down, as much as it was the potential to be a fantastic game because if they followed through with their designs a lot better, the 8s and 9s and even Tameem's boasting would be justified, but as is... it's worth a rental, but nothing more.

6/10 (Above Average)