Charlie Murder Review – Punk rock, looting, and lots of anarchy

Charlie Murder

Release Date: August 14, 2013

Developer(s): Ska Studios

Platform(s): X360 (Xbox Live Arcade)

Charlie Murder is the latest project from Ska Studios, a small indie developer that started off on PC and has called the Xbox 360 home since around 2009. They’re known for their dark and stylish 2D side-scrollers like The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai and its sequel, as well as wacky smaller titles like I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1. With Charlie Murder, the studio has taken what they’ve learned from games like The Dishwasher and have expanded its ideas into new territory with improved combat, deep RPG elements, a much longer campaign, and expanded multiplayer options. On top of their various improvements, they’ve added plenty of polish and released it for just $10. While there are some lingering issues to be found throughout the lengthy adventure, Charlie Murder is definitely a solid 2D beat ‘em up with plenty of attitude and lots of depth.

Tomb Raider Review – Jail bait? I think not!

Tomb Raider

Release Date: March 5, 2013

Developer: Crystal Dynamics

Platform: PS3/X360/PC

My first encounter with the Tomb Raider happened when I was 9 years old. I remember sitting atop my Uncle’s bed while passionately mashing buttons and manipulating the D-pad in hopes of maneuvering Lara to safety. She was graceful, acrobatic dual pistol wielding spitfire, but didn’t have the strength to vanquish foes larger than her. Despite that, she used her experience, brains, and flexibility to prevail. To me, this Lara Croft was a dangerous beauty with the strength to compete against the leading male protagonists of that time. Since 1997, with the birth of two movies several comic books and games, the Tomb Raider franchise has become a successful one. But with eight games under her belt, how could the great Lara Croft be pushed even further? In 2013, we received our answer with a reboot.

BioShock Infinite Review – A man, a city, a lighthouse

BioShock Infinite

Release Date: March 26, 2013

Developer(s): Irrational Games

Platform(s):  PS3 / X360 / PC

This generation of gaming has produced a number of excellent titles with unique narratives. Out of all the games that I’ve experienced during these past half dozen years, the original BioShock still stands out as having one of the most engrossing and exceptional storylines out there. Creator Ken Levine and his studio Irrational Games took a chance and created the underwater city of Rapture, and in doing so fabricated a game world that is simply unforgettable. Now they’ve finally released a follow-up that hopes to top their previous effort in the form of BioShock Infinite. They’ve traded a city at the bottom of the ocean for one floating in the heavens, but this entry isn’t just a simple change in scenery. BioShock Infinite introduces yet another wonderfully realized world, brand new mechanics, and a story that can take the crown as one of this art form’s finest.

Gears of War: Judgment Review – A solid change of direction

Gears of War: Judgment

Release Date: March 19, 2013

Developer(s): People Can Fly, Epic Games

Platform(s):  X360

The Gears of War series has come a long way since the first game launched in 2005 and truly defined what next gen gaming was all about. Fast-forward to 2011 and the release of Gears of War 3, and we had a game that finally perfected both the single-player and multiplayer gameplay introduced in the original. It also concluded the story arc of Marcus Fenix and Delta Squad, wrapping up everything with an exceptionally satisfying ending. Fans wondered where Epic Games would take the series next, and the answer was a prequel, Gears of War: Judgment. With a new developer on board and a slew of changes to the established formula, the series is back to win hearts. For the most part Judgment succeeds in doing so, but it definitely stumbles on its way there.

DmC: Devil May Cry Review – The party must go on

DmC: Devil May Cry

Release Date: January 15, 2013

Developer(s): Ninja Theory

Platform(s): PS3 / X360 / PC

When the rebirth of the Devil May Cry series was first announced back during the Tokyo Game Show 2010, plenty of boos and jeers echoed through the crowds therein. The negative reception came about thanks to the “emo goth punk” look surrounding the new Dante, as well as the fact that this game was being developed by someone other than Hideki Kamiya and Capcom. What nobody expected was for this reboot known as DmC: Devil May Cry to knock it out of the park. Indeed, developer Ninja Theory (known primarily for Heavenly Sword) has taken up the tough job of continuing the Devil May Cry legacy with splendid results.

GraveStompers Review – Handheld zombie carnage


Release Date: January 18, 2013

Developer(s): Mad Menace Entertainment

Platform(s): Android (Amazon App Store), iOS

Zombie games are everywhere these days, from high-end computers to consoles and mobile devices. They’re usually pretty similar to each other as well, with players taking control of snarky survivors and slaughtering thousands of the undead. GraveStompers by Mad Menace Entertainment tries to change the formula a bit by having you actually play as a zombie who hunts his own brethren. It may not make the experience remarkably different from other titles, but it’s still refreshing nonetheless. And when you add in high quality graphics, tight controls, and a copious amount of content, you have a mobile game that has a lot of potential. Sadly, certain design choices keep it from greatness.

Very Little Monsters Review – Cute, unrefined fun

Very Little Monsters

Release Date: February 28, 2013

Developer(s): CODE Software

Platform(s): Android (Google Play Store)

Very Little Monsters is the first game released by the newly formed development studio CODE. Created using the Unity3D engine and released on the Android platform, it’s a simple little casual game with a lot of heart. While it lacks the visual polish of bigger and more expensive mobile titles, it still offers some high quality 3D models of its monster characters and a low price. More importantly, the gameplay is solid, challenging and will have you coming back for more. Very Little Monsters is a good example of how fun and addicting gameplay can help to make up for a game’s other faults.

Okami HD Review – Taking the godly bait


Release Date: October 30, 2012

Developer(s): Clover Studio, Capcom, HexaDrive

Platform(s): PS3

I first played this game approximately six years ago on the PlayStation 2. From what I remember of it, it was one of the more memorable titles I ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Fast forward six years in the future, and now this game is being re-released on the PlayStation 3 for only $20 with HD graphics. I must admit, the result of this re-release is a joy not just for me— I get to relive all of the wonderful memories I made with it the first time around— but rather anybody who still hasn’t had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out this magnanimous work of art.

Hitman: Absolution Review – Freedom with finesse

Hitman: Absolution

Release Date: November 20, 2012

Developer(s): IO Interactive

Platform(s): PS3 / X360 / PC

I’ve not had the experience of playing the previous Hitman games, so I don’t have a good excuse as to why I was drawn to Hitman: Absolution. Perhaps I was curious as to how a tall white bald male could look inconspicuous in a sea of Asians? Or how I could kill a henchman in front of his comrades, don a disguise before them and mostly get away with it? Anyhow, Hitman: Absolution is an action-adventure stealth game which gives you the freedom of being violent or cunning (I like being violent). The story is irrelevant, but it involves protecting a girl worth a lot of money. The extent of this game’s excitement is killing your enemies in a number of different ways, and seeing how many collectible weapons you can touch/use.

Skulls of the Shogun Review – Strategy for the masses

Skulls of the Shogun

Release Date: January 30, 2013

Developer(s): 17-BIT

Platform(s): X360 (Xbox Live Arcade) / Windows 8 / Windows Phone / Microsoft Surface

When most people think of turn-based strategy games, they immediately have an image in their heads of intricate rules, complex menus, and matches that last way too long. The genre scares many because of the inherent difficulty curve and the feeling that the games require too much effort to really get into. Some games have attempted to remedy this problem in the past, but none of them come as close to succeeding in this regard as 17-BIT’s Skulls of the Shogun. From the simplicity of the game mechanics to the inviting Japanese inspired art style; the game tries to do the impossible. It attempts to make turn-based strategy something that any gamer can enjoy, and I can safely say that it accomplishes its mission. Furthermore, it does so with a level of polish and wit that constantly impresses.

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