Critical Consensus: Micro-transactions raise suspicions from reviewers; Dead Rising 3 leads the pack of new reviews
If it’s true that exclusive games are the key influencer behind console purchase decisions then Microsoft’s Xbox One should be on stronger ground than Sony’s PlayStation 4. This is a system launching with a few more exclusives than Sony’s disappointing three titles – not least Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport 5, a racing game that can sit in pole position by default now that Evolution’s Driveclub has been delayed from launch.
Today, the embargoes lift on some of those launch titles -although not Forza or Ryse: Son of Rome – ahead of the console’s global release on Friday, allowing Microsoft to grab back some of the limelight that Sony hogged for its US launch last week. Let’s look at those reviews now,.
Dead Rising 3
Capcom’s latest zombie killer has a brief window to make a good impression with critics and consumers, but according to Eurogamer’s 7/10 review, the game doesn’t do a good job straight out the gate. “The first minutes of the game are some of its worst, as pixels crawl along the jagged edges of road signs while canned shots of the surroundings strain to set the scene against the weight of slowdown,” says editor in chief Tom Bramwell. “You never escape Dead Rising 3’s technical shortcomings, particularly the slowdown, but once you make it out of this freeway tunnel and into Los Perdidos proper, at least you do stop worrying about them.”
“You never escape Dead Rising 3’s technical shortcomings, particularly the slowdown… but at least you do stop worrying about them”
From there gameplay is “dumb fun” as in previous Dead Rising games, where players carve through the undead with increasingly outlandish weapons. As fun as that is, Bramwell finds the humour lacking and the frat house gags tiresome, but he also has bigger issues with the lack of surprises. “Dead Rising 3 isn’t as funny, then, and it also feels like there’s less to discover… survivors send you on rote fetch quests, there are little high-score rampages to go on, and you feel directed by duty rather than curiosity.”
US site Polygon may score Dead Rising with something similar to Eurogamer, opting for 7.5 out of 10, but it seems to be seeing a different game. “Dead Rising 3 is an impressive technical achievement for the brand-new Xbox One,” it begins. “Dead Rising 3’s core technology is astounding – hundreds of enemy characters are onscreen at once, itching to eat your face. And the game performs well in most situations, save for the odd texture glitch. But load times were often ponderous”
Writer Danielle Riendeau acknowledges that the game is problematic as much as it is fun, stating: “Playing Dead Rising 3 can be a schizophrenic experience – I was angry at the game whenever it required precision from me – precision that the controls just wouldn’t support. But I was thoroughly enjoying myself whenever it let me run amok and get creative with weapons and vehicles. It’s a game with great ideas and intermittently poor execution.”
There are also issues raised with stereotypes in the game – the days are long gone where reviewers will ignore the immature, crude and offensive characters poorly written by childish developers.
Destructoid was the site with the most gushing of reviews for Dead Rising 3, awarding it a 9/10 score, with writer Chris Carter claiming, “Dead Rising 3 is the first game I’ve seen that really harnesses the power of next-gen consoles. Oh, and it’s also a phenomenal game as well.”
“For a second, I thought it was a cutscene, but then the game gave me control and expected me to make my way through a giant sea of zombies to reach the first objective. It was completely unreal, and I was sold on the engine almost immediately. For the first time in a videogame, I really felt like I was in a zombie apocalypse.”
Carter doesn’t have a problem with the writing in the game either, “the cast is a bit more well rounded this time around, as there’s a good mix of walking campy caricatures, and actual characters,” and he finds a lot of fun in the co-op gameplay, before summing the whole experience up as “a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won’t cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.”
You can’t get much more hardcore than a one-on-one fighting game, and you won’t find a subject matter that raises temperatures amongst the gaming community as quickly as micro-transactions. Killer Instinct is both, so this game really is an outlier for a new business model on a brand new games console.
“Clearly it’s nothing that wouldn’t have been possible on older technology. In fact, strip away the particles and there’s little to Killer Instinct that feels new”
Edge goes straight in with a 7/10 score, noting that this is a fighter with a well-designed mechanic. “Yet as thoughtfully put together as the combo system is, clearly it’s nothing that wouldn’t have been possible on older technology. In fact, strip away the particles and there’s little to Killer Instinct that feels new.”
“Sure, it runs at 60fps, but so do its 360 and PS3 equivalents, and it does so only in 720p. Character models whiff of the previous generation – Jago’s hairdo is supposed to be spiky, but not jaggy – and stage backgrounds similarly fail to make a compelling case for Xbox One’s processing power. One mountain range backdrop looks disappointingly flat, but even the more enclosed stages are let down by drab, low-detail scenery,” writes the reviewer.
Although IGN notes that the game has “only six characters – it’s hard not to feel a bit limited by that,” it rolls out an 8.4 score and is impressed by the attention Double Helix has heaped on the game, making a tough genre accessible to noobs.
“The sad truth about fighting games is that much of what makes playing them against others interesting is usually kept obscured,” writes Vince Ingenito. “Killer Instinct succeeds enormously at exposing all of that information to players of all skill levels.
“Not only is its combat system flashy and well thought out, it’s well explained too, thanks to its powerful training tools, and what is easily the most complete guide to terminology and tactics ever assembled in a fighting game. Though it lacks an arcade mode or a full-sized character roster, Killer Instinct delivers where it counts.”
Joystiq’s review of Killer Instinct highlights the problems with reviewing a game that isn’t finished yet, let alone one where different price points get you different levels of access to content. “Right now, there’s little else aside from training, survival and online modes. There isn’t a story mode or an arcade mode, though the latter is promised for the future,” writes David Hinkle in his ⅗ review.
“As it stands, Killer Instinct is a streamlined fighter designed as a far-reaching modular experience, which highlights one of its key problems: a dearth of content.”
But like IGN’s review, Hinkle points to the accessibility of the game overriding the lack of content. “This makes Killer Instinct a delight to play and a uniquely enticing proposition to fighting aficionados and genre novices alike. And even though it’s mostly about big, flashy combos, Killer Instinct doesn’t make you feel helpless when you’re the one being pummeled,” he says.
If the rest of the unreleased game is this good and the developer holds out on the delivery promise, Killer Instinct may grow to be much better received.
On-rails shooter Crimson Dragon is as close to Panzer Dragoon or Child of Eden as 2013 gets, but it has an unwelcome addition of micro-transactions that don’t sit well with OXM reviewer Jon Blyth.
“In an unexpected, and entirely unwelcome move, Crimson Dragon seems to have taken a lot of design leads from free-to-play games,” he writes in a 6/10 review. “You pay credits to perform tougher missions, a counter-intuitive form of employment that’s crying out for a Dragon Riders Union strike ballot. It’s also a little too reminiscent of F2P ‘energy’ mechanics for our liking.”
“In an unexpected, and entirely unwelcome move, Crimson Dragon seems to have taken a lot of design leads from free-to-play games”
The game is fun when it lets the player indulge in the power fantasy, but when it feels unnessarily unfair and then dangles the ability to buy your way to end of a level, it leaves a nasty taste, says Blyth. “When you’re beset, besieged, and bullied by streams of incoming missiles, you feel cheated rather than challenged, and the beckoning gem shop makes the process feel dirty.”
Ben Reeves at GameInformer also has problems with Crimson Dragon, mainly because it tries to innovate in a genre that barely any developers have given any care or attention to in the past ten years, and had fudged controls that were originally designed for Kinect.
“Crimson Dragon tries to mix up the repetitive shooting with sequences where you collect gold beacons, but these moments are about as exciting as flying through a series of rings,” he writes in a 6/10 review.
“Levels occasionally open up and allow you to fly around the environment, but I constantly felt like I was fighting the camera throughout these sequences, and the dragons are so sluggish that there is no thrill to flying. I was actually happy every time the game limited my controls to the rails.”
Reeves says he’s a fan of the original Panzer Dragoon series, but even he admits that after the nostalgia “it doesn’t hold a candle to its precursors that came out decades ago.”
Chris Carter of Destructoid highlights the in-game micro-transactions, but although he doesn’t like the idea of them, he also doesn’t have a problem with the way they’re implemented in Crimson Dragon.
“Like Ryse and Powershot Golf, Crimson Dragon unfortunately employs a micro-transaction option to buy more currency. But! It’s mostly inoffensive, because you can just buy everything through gameplay,” he writes in an 8/10 review.
“I don’t like that this system is in place in the slightest, but I never once felt like I had to pay money. Instead, I was inspired to level up my dragons through normal gameplay, and simply improve my skills.”
And despite the uncomfortable micro-transactions, Carter is happy with the end gaming result. “As a massive fan of the Panzer series, I was worried that this wouldn’t quite honor it, but thre’s plenty here for gamers who have been longing for an entry since 2003’s Orta,” he says. “There are some mechanical problems, but any old-school rail shooter fan will be able to handle them.”