Tag Archives: Action-Adventure

Game Comment: “Okami” (PS 2)

3 Aug

Info: Clover Studio (Developer); Capcom (Publisher)
Genre: Action-Adventure

Started: May 2008
Finished: July 2008
Playing time: over 50 hours

Links: Official Website; Currently Playing post with video

Okami contains a lot of references to Japanese mythology. You play the wolf incarnation of a Japanese sun god, Ameratsu, and your task is to get rid of the evil that came over the world and restore the world to beauty again. For that, you have to regain your magical powers which you wield with a paint brush and (that’s for the most part optional) fight demons on the way. To lighten things up you’re accompanied by a side kick character, Issun, who looks like a small bug, rides on your back, and does the talking.

The paint brush thing is what sets Okami apart from other games in the use of magic and makes it fairly original, IMO. For example, you can restore broken objects and make trees bloom by going into paint modus where you pause time and paint on the screen using the game controller. This may sound complicated or difficult, but it isn’t. In fact, the controls are easily learned and smooth and that makes Okami fun to play.

Although the game is linear in that certain areas are only accessible after you did certain things, there is a strong focus on exploration in this game with all the extra stuff to find and do. Learning a new (brush) technique often means you can go back to already visited and restored areas and then do things you couldn’t before like digging on different ground. You also feed animals and help people with things. For that, you get praise which you use to improve yourself (for example, you can store more ink or money).

What I liked:

  • what I probably liked most: bringing order back to the world and restoring it to its former beauty
  • story
    Of course, it is a rather generic story when you look at what it comes down to: good vs evil. But there is actually a real story there and it is actually told (no “and then…”). The story even has some twists. It also has a nice (told) ending, not just a “the end” screen, and something like a message.”
  • graphics
    I don’t know what to say. I liked the water-colour painting look. And when you restore an area back to life and all the green and flowers spread and cherry blossoms floated through the air – just beautiful. Just letting Ameratsu run around and see more and more flowers swirl behind her the faster she runs is fun.
  • side quests
    There are quite a few side quests to do so you can take a break from the actual story line when you want and go fishing or go looking for objects. I just like to have some extra stuff in a game.
  • boss fights
    I liked that I had to figure out how to beat them. Just smashing buttons wouldn’t do for most fights. There is a strategic element involved in that you first have to get the enemy to a stage where you can attack him (smash the button) and often it involves the use of the paint brush techniques. Once you figure that out, the boss fights get rather easy.

What I didn’t like:

  • some of the extra stuff is quite difficult to get; even more so when you compare it to the rest of the game
  • sometimes the control is a bit tricky
  • sometimes the text messages are a bit slow to appear on screen and you can’t make it faster

Last thought:
Despite the rather dark story, Okami is actually a rather hopeful and cherry game, IMO. It easily is one of the best, most original and most beautiful games I played on the Playstation 2 with a near perfect balance between its elements.

Did I enjoy playing this game? Yes.

Would I recommend this game? Yes.

Grade: 5 – / 5

Game Comment: "God Of War" (PS2)

22 Oct

God of War tells the story of Kratos, a mighty Spartan warrior. It’s set in ancient Greek and makes heavy use of its mythology. The opening cutscene shows how Kratos jumps off a cliff. He wants to end his life, because he can bear the memories of all the things he did no longer. The player takes over three weeks before this point. The game is about these last three weeks in Kratos life.

What I liked:

  • story: The story is told in an interesting way. There are flashbacks throughout the game that tell about Kratos’s life prior to the point in his life the player is playing. The flashbacks tell about how Kratos came to be what he is then and give insight into Kratos’s motivation for doing what he does in these three weeks the player is playing. So one can say that the game is a kind of double flashback, because the events in the game, which the player plays, are a flashback, too. The story itself is rather dark and is more a revenge story than the standard “hero-has-to-save-the-world”-story.
  • graphics: God of War has impressive graphics and settings. They create an epic atmosphere, a grander than life feeling, which reminded me more often than not of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. Combined with the more elaborate way of telling the story, the graphics create a movie-like experience in playing the game. The music contributes to this experience and reminded me, again, of the Lord of the Rings-movies.
  • puzzles: There are several puzzles to be solved in the game – nothing special or too hard to figure out, mostly just simple manipulation of objects – but they were a welcome change of pace for me from the fighting.
  • bonus: There are some interesting features (similar to a DVD) unlocked after you beat the game (and there are still more to unlock). I liked that, because normally you just get character models, images, or maybe the option to view all the cutscenes. This was more like a “look behind the scenes”.

What I didn’t like:

  • gameplay: On paper there are numerous ways of dealing with the enemies – lots of different combos to use, a mini-game to finish some enemies of, and magic. While I liked the mini-games, I ended up using only one kind of combo for most of the time – the standard attack (square) with an occasional triangle thrown in and now and then some magic. I did just fine with these and never bothered with the other combos. Apparently, if you want to finish on the hardest difficulty, this changes. So maybe it’s better to say I’m on the fence about the gameplay since I finished God of War on normal difficulty. Otherwise it has similarities to the of Prince of Persia games.
  • camera: I can’t tell you how often I wanted to adjust the camera to improve the perspective. I want to see what Kratos is doing or were he is going. This was especially annoying in the more platform-like elements of the game like balancing or jumping.
  • there are some very frustrating areas in there where timing is everything and the smallest mistake means: do it again! Not my kind of fun.
  • duration: This game is short. It might very well be the shortest game I ever played. Sure, I mainly play RPGs which last longer than other games anyway, but believe me when I say it about this game. I finished it in eleven hours, and one hour at least was spent with doing platform elements like balancing across beams because I fell down repeatedly. Normally, I’m not overly concerned when a game is called “short”. I know that I suck at platform elements and can therefore safely add more time to the total play time. Not so here. I sucked and I still needed only 11 hours.

Did I enjoy playing this game? Yes.

Would I recommend this game? Yes.

Grade: 4 / 5 (higher without this frustrating area)

Game Comment: "Ratchet And Clank 3" (PS2)

26 Aug

Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal is the third instalment of the adventures of Ratchet and his Robot Clank. Characterization is not a big concern in this series: the main story is straightforward and linear, with some funny scenes thrown in. Like in the two previous games, Ratchet and Clank have to go from planet to planet with a spaceship, accomplish missions there, get coordinates for other planets, go there – rinse and repeat until they fight a boss at the end of the game.


Far from it.

Ratchet and Clank is just so much fun to play. That’s mainly because of the near perfect gameplay mechanics. There are no frustrating moments because you have to repeat things over and over again due to wacky controls. Later in the game, you might have to repeat some missions – just running in and shooting at all things moving won’t get you very far. But that’s not because it’s just difficult to do or luck dependent, it’s because you have to think which of your many (crazy) weapons (up to 20 are available) is best to use in this mission. This adds a lot to the playing experience.

Shooting is the main word to describe the third part of the Ratchet and Clank series. It’s important to understand that R & C 3 moved away from its origin as a mixture of action game and platformer. Now there are only very marginal elements of a platformer. For the most part, you play Ratchet, run through the level and shoot at enemies. Shooting makes your weapons level up (version 5 is the highest for the first time playing). So all this shooting serves something. (And what 100%-gamer would want to face the last boss without all weapons at the highest level?)

Combined with these missions are some kind of mini-games to get access to an area now and then. They are only playable during a mission, and once a mission is cleared, you can’t return to these games. They are quite fun, and make for an interesting diversion. The same goes for the Clank-missions. Clank’s missions have more emphasis on puzzles and there is no shooting involved, but you’re able to punch enemies if needed.

Then there are some missions with space rangers, which provide a change of pace and they even give you some bolts after completing. That’s good, since you need lots of bolts to buy ammunition, weapons, and armor. The normal way to get bolts is to kill enemies and smash things with your wrench. But beside repeating the space rangers missions, you can do arena challenges or collect crystals to get bolts. They are nice, too, if you want to do something different. Or you can take a break from the main story line by playing Captain Quark video games, short sidescrolling platformers in 2D. To make the list of what to do beside following the main story line complete, there’s even is a multiplayer mode in the game (not tested, so no comment).

To sum it up: Ratchet and Clank: Up your Arsenal is a good game – not too difficult, not unfair, not frustrating. It’s just plain fun to play.

I think I start the challenge mode now, so that I can get the last missing skill points and trophies, which are only available there. Everything else I have.

Did I enjoy playing this game? Yes, very much.

Would I recommend this game? Yes.

Grade: 5 / 5

Game Comment: "Jak 3" (PS2)

9 Aug

One comment comes to my mind when I think about Jak 3: “meh” – which means it left me kind of cold. I don’t know how else to describe it and I’m not sure why I had this kind of reaction, because Jak 3 was fun to play.

Jak 3 is a good game: impressive graphics; different locations (two cities, a vast desert, some smaller areas); a balanced difficulty level (no “spikes” like Jak 2) and sometimes even save points during missions (which made for an easier difficulty level); good gameplay overall; some funny scenes with Daxter; and it concludes the storyline of the two previous games, which should generate some interest in itself to play the game.

It starts interesting: In the opening cut scene, Jak and Daxter are left in a desert after Jak was banished from Haven City. The question is, can they get back? With such a start and the factors listed above, a game should reasonably produce another response than a mere okay. So what’s the matter?

There’s smaller and bigger stuff that bugged me. Some of the smaller things I didn’t like was that I sometimes had to do a mission when I rather wanted to do some of the challenges. I can’t remember if it was like that in Jak 2, but I think in Jak 2 I could choose when I wanted to do/start a mission. Another thing are the vehicles. They seemed to lose their grip a bit too easily, which lead to some frustrating moments during vehicle missions (at least for me). But although I found myself more often than not repeating a mission because of this, I think in comparison to the vehicle missions in Jak 2 I really can’t complain.

The biggest complaint I have about the game is the rushed feeling I got from several things. There were slowdowns, I had rather frequently some kind of graphical error (a line running from the bottom of the screen to the top), and the games crashed three times (PAL version). Also, I sometimes wondered what I had to do or why I had to do it – I had the feeling that there were some scenes missing which would explain it more. This is connected to my complaint about sometimes having to do a mission without me actively choosing it. Some elements, like Jak’s special powers, were introduced but rarely needed. This seems like lost potential to me. The story line was a bit contrived, and most of the characters were a bit undeveloped with Keira being nearly non-existent. To round this “there-are-some-things-missing”- feeling up, the last boss came out of the blue, sort of like the developers said:

– “It’s time to end this game.”
– “Well, we need a boss for the end fight.”
– “We could use ….”
– “Oh yes, saves time and all, and comes as a real surprise. Great!”

I think it’s this rushed feeling – the feeling that the game could have been better with a bit more time for developing – why Jak 3 left me kind of “meh”.

Did I enjoy playing this game? More yes than no.

Would I recommend this game? Probably yes.

Grade: 3,5 / 5