Beyond Co-Op Reviews is a critical look at games that don't necessarily have a co-op mode.
The fall season is upon us, but the staff have just wrapped up the remanents of the summer months. On the plate today is the Fall's first big release, Deus Ex: Human Revolution as well as a few other gems. Take a gander and see if you missed any gems.
FIFA 2012.................................................................................................. Page 2
Hard Reset...............................................................................................Page 3
ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection...................................Page 4
Resident Evil 4 HD...................................................................................Page 5
Resident Evil: Code Veronica HD........................................................Page 6
Explanation of Scores:
- Golden Billy - This is a must buy title. Truly excellent in almost everyway.
- Silver Billy - A solid title with a few flaws.
- Bronze Billy - This one is probably a rental if it interests you.
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Sports
by: Nicholas "BAPenguin" Puleo
Yearly updates to sports games are rarely worth the $60 investment, that is, if you purchase them every year. You need to keep a careful and keen eye on the particular sport series to determine the right time to buy if updated rosters aren’t the biggest bullet point on the back of the box. This year’s FIFA seems like the time to go all in on the series, as it has seen it’s biggest overhaul in core game mechanics in quite some time.
So what exactly has changed?
The game utilizes a brand new player impact engine, one that’s similar to a player engine found in the NHL and Madden beginning last year. Basically it comes down to this - player animations and movement are governed by real world physics not only with the field of play, but with other players. What you get is an incredibly realistic feel to playing the game - momentum feels natural, movement is smooth, and players feel less like animations on a screen and more like a diorama in action of a game.
Adding to this huge update is improved defensive capabilities, like holding the left trigger to keep your player between the attacker and the goal - and the ability to gently tug on an opposing player’s jersey to slow him down. There’s a host of other tweaks and features to the game, but these few things I feel make this one of the most realistic and fun FIFA games in years.
The few dozen games I played in FIFA 12 yielded unpredictable results, though, it mostly ended with me losing the game. That said I felt like there was a dynamic underlying system in the game which adapted to my play style. I’d try to mix it up - whether it was through passes in the middle, lobbing the ball over defender’s heads, or dribbling it down the sideline to cross. After a few times of trying the same thing it seemed as if the computer was learning my strategy.
As with most EA Sports games, presentation in FIFA 12 is top notch. Player models easily resemble their real life counter part and the in game chants while playing make you feel as if you are on the pitch.
So is this year’s FIFA worth your $60? In my mind without a doubt. Having just come off of playing FIFA 2011, FIFA 2012 felt like a totally different game to me. And in this case, different is better.
Publisher: Flying Wild Hog
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
by: Nicholas "BAPenguin" Puleo
There was a time in gaming on the PC when first person shooters were just pure adrenaline rushes. You never let go of your left mouse button, you circle strafed till the A and D on your keyboard weren’t readable anymore, and ducking behind cover never even entered your vocabulary. Hard Reset is a game that reminds of us the golden age of PC first person shooters. Crafted by Flying Wild Hog, made up of former CD Projekt RED developers (Witcher), it’s easy to see why this is a quality, PC centric shooter.
There’s a story to be had in Hard Reset, one that plays out with comic book style cut scenes which mask loading screens, but it’s one that’s easily forgettable and won’t lessen the experience any if you miss it.
The core mechanic of the game centers around two guns - which oddly are switched with Q and E keys. Your main gun shoots bullets while your secondary shoots electricity. Both weapons can gain a host of upgrades to make them more powerful - things like scopes, higher damage, melee style attacks, and even mortars can be attached. Your character can also be upgraded to include better health, improved HUD and other goodies. As for the weapons, it seemed like use was a personal preference, and one didn’t have any significant advantage over the other. Neither gun requires a reload button.
The enemies of Hard Reset vary in size, but not in difficulty. All of them are robotic bastards hell bent on making your life miserable. The game’s difficulty never really lets up, constantly forcing you to backpedal and look for red barrels or electrical conduits to shoot to slow down the enemies pursuit. Usually shooting these objects causes a glorious explosion of sparks and metal objects.
It’s worth mentioning the Hard Reset used a custom graphic engine, and with it comes a really gorgeous futuristic city. Everything has a nice glow to it and with so many lights comes some really great reflections. The environments aren’t just for looks either, little terminals are fully interactive and become heads up displays themselves in the game world to use - whether you are upgrading a weapon, opening a door, or other...less useful things.
All in all if you’re looking for a decent “old school” shooter on the PC with pretty graphics, intense combat, and no nonsense gameplay - Hard Reset should be right up your alley.
Developer: Team ICO
by: Nicholas "BAPenguin" Puleo
Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are considered of the highest pedigree in the PlayStation 2’s life cycle. Both games, created by famous Japanese designer Fumito Ueda, offer very similar experiences in terms of emotional attachment while offering very different experiences in how you play the game. Both of these games are now updated for the PlayStation 3 complete with hi-definition graphcis, 3D support, and trophies making them feel less retro and more like a pair of games worth picking up.
Ico is a game that follows a small horned boy who must guide a pale white girl named Yorda through a perilous castle. During their trip they must avoid dark apparitions as well as climb and jump their way through dangerous obstacles. It’s the world’s biggest escort mission, but it’s one that you find yourself completely enthralled in. Whether it’s the way Yorda calls for the boy when in trouble or the way the boy pulls Yorda along willing her away from the imminent danger. The emotional tie between these two becomes immediately apparent and it’s hard not to get attached.
Ico cleans up nicely, the textures look decent enough and the watercolor-esque graphical style really pops off the screen. Perhaps the most impressive feature is how well the sound in the game works, with the echoing footsteps of the pair echoing through your living room.
Shadow of the Colossus may be the more critically acclaimed of the two games, with a similar narrative at play. You control a young boy and his horse on a mission to save a fallen female friend. To bring her back you must track down and kill 16 giant creatures that roam the land. It’s basically a game that consists entirely of boss battles.
While i wasn’t as impressed with the graphical update that Shadow of the Colossus had, the impressive scale of each beast still holds true. And from the very first battle as you climb up the giant hairy beast, you begin to doubt your quest as to just how vicious these creatures really are. Again, like Ico, the audio in Colossus really helps carry the game.
Sadly I wasn’t able to test the 3D in the two pack, but both games feel like a natural fit for the technology. With a price of just $40 the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus bundle should be a no brainer for your PS3 library - if anything - for the cred of keeping it on your shelf.
by: Paul "EastX" Acevedo
I am one of the few people who skipped straight to Resident Evil 5 without playing its predecessor. While we here at Co-Optimus loved RE5’s brilliant co-op gameplay (I earned all 1000 GamerScore from the base game and recently starting playing through the PC version too), Resident Evil 4 remains many gamers’ favorite in the series. Thankfully, Capcom has just released Resident Evil 4 HD as a downloadable title on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, at last enabling the poor individuals like me to experience this acclaimed title.
Resident Evil 4 takes place sometime after the fall of the nefarious Umbrella Corporation, who seemingly spent more time making zombies and monsters than they did pharmaceuticals. But evil still abounds, as a Spanish cult has kidnapped the American president’s daughter, Ashley. Enter Leon Kennedy on a mission to get Spain back for all of that conquistador nonsense in the 15th and 16th centuries. That, or rescue the whiny and useless Ashley – I forget. As it turns out, the cultists and neighboring villagers have more to worry about than an influenza epidemic. They have been infected with the mysterious Las Plagas parasites, causing them to abandon all standards of hygiene as well as become violent not-zombies.
The new threat, a surprisingly coherent story, an increased focus on action over puzzles, and amazing graphics all helped make Resident Evil 4 a blockbuster on GameCube, Playstation 2, and later the Wii. But does the game still have something to offer for current gen gamers? That depends.
If you’ve played RE4 to death on other systems, the latest version offers little to entice you back. Despite the HD title, Resident Evil 4 simply renders the Wii version’s graphics at a higher resolution. Textures are painfully low resolution and no anti-aliasing or other enhancement effects have been added. On the plus side, it does run in proper widescreen and boasts better color saturation than previous editions. So this may be the best RE4 has ever looked on consoles, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the fan-modded PC version.
While the four-year old Wii Edition offered new (and frankly superior) controls, RE4 HD is limited to the original, clunky controls. Yeah, they’re less clunky than previous games like Code Veronica, but they still feel decidedly antiquated. Leon aims painfully slowly, making it easy for bad guys to get their hands on him before he has a chance to actually point his gun in the right direction. The targeting reticule’s exaggerating wobbling doesn’t help either. It would have been so easy for Capcom to add Resident Evil 5’s much improved controls, and the result would have been the definitive version of the game. Oh well.
Resident Evil 4 HD may not include much in the way of new content, but it’s still the perfect way for anyone who has been trapped in a cave for the last several years to finally check out the beloved franchise entry - and give part 5 additional context. The main game took me 26 hours to complete, with the ‘Assignment Ada’ and ‘Separate Ways’ bonus modes adding even more playtime. Factor in a second playthrough on the unlockable Professional difficulty for its associated Achievement/Trophy and RE4 HD actually offers tons of gaming value for a value price. People who already own part 4 and don’t care about Achievements can safely skip this version though.
by: Sam "Samaoza" Tyler
When Resident Evil 4 was released it was like a breath of fresh air. The Evil series was reinvigorated with new looks, new controls and new environments. However, for a franchise to need reinvigorating it first needs to have stagnated; was the last ‘traditional’ Resident Evil game really so poor that it broke the series? If the high definition remake of Resident Evil: Code Veronica has anything to go by, the answer is a probably yes.
Before going further, some cards must be laid on the table. I played the original version of Code Veronica on the Dreamcast back in the day and I didn’t like it much then. Therefore, it would take more than a simple high-res reskin to impress me. So what have Capcom done to Code Veronica? Taken a bucket of matte Hi Res Paint™ and slopped it all over. The tank-like controls that date the game tremendously are still present. Want to move forwards? Easy enough, just press forward on the joystick. Want to go over to that area in the corner behind you? Turn the character around on their axis so that they are pointing in that direction and then press forwards. People may have struggled with Resident Evil 5’s controls, but they are nothing when compared with the strange turn and move controls of Veronica. At times death became a blessed release from you grinding along a wall trying to escape a horde of zombies.
Graphically, the game does look better than ever before, but it is by no means in keeping with modern games. The bizarre puzzles are also in abundance (even more so than in RE5). The concept of finding two pieces of a strange medallion to open a door is odd to begin with, but when that door is situated within a modern industrial complex it is just plain wrong. Some retro games take on an awkward charm as they age, whilst others make you question why they were popular in the first place.
Fans of the original Resident Evil: Code Veronica will probably enjoy going back and reliving (redeading) the same experience as before, but in a better looking world. However, this is probably the most obscure game in the main cannon and it should probably remain so; some of the side characters are awful, even in terms of the Resident Evil franchise. In the end, it is not the collecting of strange objects or annoying characters that undermines the game, but the fact that it is almost uncontrollable to a gamer accustomed to 2011 controls.
This is one remake for the hardcore Resident Evil fans only.
Publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
Developer: Recoil Games
by: Jason "OrigamiPanther" Love
In the realm of action/adventure games, there are those that fall into the realm of God of War type action, those that lean more towards Legend of Zelda adventure, and those that split the difference to provide more of a “Metroidvania” experience. Recoil Games’ Rochard pleasantly falls into that latter category and feels like a combination of the 2009 XBLA summer arcade hit, Shadow Complex, and the gravity gun from Half-Life 2.
John Rochard is just a hard working astro-miner hoping to find a big claim after a series of misses. When he and his team finally do find something, though, it turns out to be a bigger discovery than they had expected. In order to save his crew and prevent their discovery from being misused, Rochard uses the only tool he’s got at his disposal: his trusty G-Lifter. This piece of standard issue astro-miner equipment lets Rochard pick up most boxes and other objects that he comes across and, eventually, even shoot off a few rounds and lob some grenades. The core of Rochard’s gameplay, though, comes mainly from the G-Lifter’s, and Rochard’s, gravity manipulation abilities.
The real charm and fun of Rochard lies within the various gravity and physics-based puzzles you’ll encounter across the game’s five chapters. From hurling boxes in order to block lasers, kill foes, or help Rochard reach new heights, to lowering a room’s gravity, the game’s puzzles start relatively straightforward and get progressively more complex, but never overly so. Much like another Valve game, Portal, Rochard’s difficulty ramp up feels natural and appropriate; just when you’re comfortable with using a particular mechanic in a particular way, a new obstacle comes along which forces you to think just a little bit differently.
The only real failing of Rochard is that the gameplay mechanics that it employs, while well executed, leaves one with an overall “it’s been done” feeling. Plenty of games have riffed off of the physics-based puzzle idea that was introduced into games over the past few year; enough so that by the time you get to the 3rd or 4th “stack these boxes to get over there” puzzle in Rochard, it feels more like your 53rd or 54th. Elements like Rochard’s ability to lower a room’s gravity at will, or the different colored force fields that block different matter, such as the boxes, enemy fire, and even Rochard himself, help to keep things fresh and interesting, but it’s never quite enough to fully shake that nagging déjà vu feeling. In my entire time playing through the game, my “ooo, this is different/new!” moments never quite matched up with the “different verse, same as the first” ones.
In spite of that, Rochard did prove to be one of the more enjoyable downloadable games I’ve played on PSN in a while. Beautiful visuals, a good soundtrack, solid/fun gameplay, and Jon St. John (you may know him as Duke Nukem) providing the voice of main hero John Rochard, all make the game an easy recommendation, but probably not one that I’d say you had to rush out to play.