Muted reviews for Xbox One’s first titles

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.

Dead Rising 3.

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.”

Killer Instinct

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 Online

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.

Killer Instinct.

“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.

Crimson Dragon

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.”

Crimson Dragon.

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.”



The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Review (PS3)

The Bureau XCom Declassified Review

[REDACTED] have arrived. The [REDACTED] have a number of [REDACTED], and near limitless [REDACTED]. You are agent [REDACTED]. Your mission, whether you like it or not, is to [REDACTED]. In the end, the [REDACTED] and you may not even [REDACTED]. Godspeed agents, the fate of [REDACTED].

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a prequel of sorts to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, detailing the origins of the alien invasion and creation of the XCOM project in 1962 as a defense force for the earth. Unlike Firaxis’ turn based tactical strategy game, The Bureau is a third person shooter with tactical strategy and squad command elements, playing very similarly to how the Mass Effect titles play. So is The Bureau worth your time, or should this game have been [REDACTED]?

The visuals are simple and you can feel the age of this generation of consoles as you play. Framerate stutters plagued every instance that the game was loading assets or autosaving. Fortunately this didn’t carry into battles too often, but was still enough of an annoyance that I had to make a note of it. The audio also tripped over itself often, particularly in the dialog, with instances of overlapping dialog and one character’s lines not even loading during a full conversation. Overall, the game just lacked a level of polish and care that higher profiles games receive before they ship.

The Bureau XCom Declassified Review

The game’s early ’60s America setting was very well done. I love period pieces and the attention to detail to make the world feel authentic was one of the best things done for this game. While it doesn’t quite reach the same levels of other period based games like Resistance or L.A. Noire,  it manages to hold its own as the outfits and music chosen really perpetuate the early ’60s stereotypes.

The gameplay of The Bureau is fairly solid, but is not the most exemplary title in terms of third person shooters. It does apply the tactical squad-based strategy element well, requiring you to make use of it if you want any chance of surviving this alien invasion, but finds itself with a level of redundancy as you near the end. Even on the normal difficulty, I had to make sure that I was sufficiently utilizing cover and paying attention to my squad in order to succeed in most of the larger battles. I loved the strategy required in The Bureau, and am typically the type of gamer that dives into the fray with no tactics, so it was a nice ego check to have to scale back and learn to think out each situation.

When you command your squad and use abilities, time slows to a crawl to enable you to think strategically. While it never meets the extremely tense moments that Enemy Unknown is known for, it still goes a long way towards making The Bureau stand out as more than just another third person shooter. The Bureau does feature perma-death for your squad, so decisions that you make on the battlefield can result in losing a strong agent with good abilities. The urgency in the perma-death is lessened by each unique squad member not actually feeling that unique, so I never felt the same sense of loss that I felt when I lost a member of my team in Enemy Unknown.

The Bureau XCom Declassified Review

Mission linearity unfortunately defeats a lot of the replay value that this game could have, with each mission simply being a series of hallways connecting the next encounter. While it’s (mostly) fun the first time through, trying to play through it again brought about severe deja vu and I didn’t find any alternate enemy tactics or spawns. The AI can be frustrating, especially from your team whenever you aren’t micromanaging them and they have no commands to fall back on. This is at its worst when you are trying to get yourself out of danger, but have to constantly worry about the two buffoons that you brought to that mission. The sense of tactical strategy goes out the window at these points and luck seems to take hold.

One huge aspect that The Bureau missed the boat on is the research portions of previous XCOM titles. While there was plenty of opportunity and I was sure that it was going to crop up at some point, it unfortunately did not. Rather, it opted to give me an unlimited supply of any alien weapon that I found out in the field for my squad to use. This was disappointing, and made the customization of, and subsequent risk of permanently losing, my agents almost moot, despite generally being such a large aspect of XCOM. A lot of XCOM related elements felt shoehorned in to The Bureau to fill expectations.

The Bureau XCom Declassified Review

The Bureau’s story is stiff, disjointed, and fails to fully realize itself. Don’t get me wrong, the potential is there,the voice actors are good, and it has all of the pieces and elements that could make a great XCOM origin story, but too many plot holes and shoddy writing mean that The Bureau isn’t going to impress. Fans of  XCOM may be able to find a small level of enjoyment in the references and tie ins that are made to the other games, but even I, as a fan, was extremely confused by the end, specifically concerning the motivations and actions of various characters that made no sense at all. It tries to gain an emotional connection with the player, but fails miserably and a lack of any kind of caring for these moments on the game’s part meant that some major plot points did not have the intended emotional effect when they occurred.

Overall, The Bureau is a decent game that fails to bring anything new to gamers’ tables. With a period alien invasion having been done before in titles like Resistance, gameplay mechanics ripped straight from Mass Effect, and XCOM elements wrangled together, The Bureau feels like an unpolished conglomeration of games that have come before it. While it definitely isn’t the worst game that I have ever played, and I had a decent amount of fun playing through it once, I can’t say that it would be missed too much if it were to be [REDACTED].

Review copy provided by publisher.



Review: DeadPool


As a longtime comic book fan, you can understand why someone like me – who loves and appreciates games as much as his other passions – gets absolutely frightened when the two are brought together. Licensed games are generally the scourge of the industry, a type of game that through name alone sends chills down the spines of gamers everywhere. As DualShockers’ resident “X” fan, I’ve been waiting for the Deadpool game to release with both bated breath and utter terror. Now, after getting my hands on the game and going on a full ride with the Merc With A Mouth, I can relax a little. While not a perfect video game, Deadpool is certainly a perfect Deadpool game.

Leading up to Deadpool‘s release, the one thing going through every DP-fan’s mind was probably “Are they going to capture the essence of Deadpool correctly?” “Is this really going to be the Deadpool game we deserve?” “Can they nail Deadpool’s crazy humor just the right way?” Yes, because the “right way” turns out to be Daniel Way, longtime writer of the Deadpool comics, and writer of the Deadpool the video game script. Everything about this game oozes the pure essence of Deadpool in the comics, and no doubt Way had a large part to do with that. In fact, the entire premise of Deadpool involves  our favorite anti-hero contacting High Moon Studios to make his own video game (after sending in a proposal written in crayon). So the same way Deadpool is one of the few characters in comics to know he’s actually a comic book character, he’s also the only person in the game to know that this whole adventure is being designed and developed by other people. This often includes some funny moments throughout the game, like “going over budget” (which gives way to a cool retro take later) or playing on normal gaming conventions.

Funny moments are abundant in this game: there’s plenty of comedy to be found in Deadpool, from simple “har har” moments, to hysterical segways that really make you appreciate how well Deadpool’s humor was infused into every aspect of the game. Every. Single. Part.


Take, for example, how I left the menu screen idle for a while, only to find a typically relaxed Deadpool teleporting out of his seat to go prancing and frolicking about his room. Later he dressed in his faux-X-Men costume while trying to look into my room (through the TV screen) for babes, and finally he turned into his “D. Pooly” hip hop look (from J. Scott Campbell’s variant Siege #3 cover) while a scantily clad woman walked on and off the screen at random. Or take a look at the trophies/achievements to find that his Platinum trophy says “Okay, you can sell the game now.”

While playing, the dialogue is one of the strongest points of the game, whether it’s between Deadpool and his guest stars/allies (several X-Men characters), his enemies (Mr. Sinister and his Marauders), or even with himself, as Deadpool has two inner-voices that he’s constantly conversing with. While playing, Deadpool and the other characters have a ton of great sound bites, some of my favorite including:

“Did that hit you the chest? I’m sorry, I was aiming for you crotch!” (Deadpool)

“Sometimes I let my guns do the talking… and boy are they chatty.” (Deadpool)

“You think I’m scared of a mercenary? I work in television!” (Chance White)

Sometimes these sound bites are aimed at poking fun at common game design choices, like a moment where Deadpool shouts (to no one in particular, but obviously aimed at the player), “More people who want us dead! In games, that means we’re headed in the right direction!”


Any Deadpool-fan will also appreciate the occasional balance of good ol’ crazy comedy with the rare, deep and dark moments that are at the core of Deadpool’s character, and how, at times, he shows he’s not crazy at all, but incredibly intelligent. When his first target, Chance White, calls him crazy early in the game, he very darkly responds “Not as much as you think…” and you find out that some random off-the-wall thing you did and forgot earlier was actually important to Deadpool accomplishing his mission. It’s moments like these that should please both fans and non-fans alike. There’s another great moment later on in the game that takes a surprisingly deep, disturbing, and visceral look into Deadpool’s head, something players won’t see coming.  How it’s seamlessly implemented into the game was so unexpected that it, too, perfectly parallels Deadpool’s random descents into sanity, and just how seriously messed up Deadpool is inside his head.

But if you’re worried this is a grim and gritty Christopher Nolan-esque re-imagining of Deadpool, don’t fret: these few moments are expertly and sparingly used during the game, with the majority of your time enjoying Deadpool’s random observations and thoughts, from Cable’s theme song, to Genosha being called a “time share for mutants,” to a slap-happy moment with Wolverine, to a fantastic “D. Pooly” dream sequence, all the way to the blaxploitation like end-credits.

Deadpool - Siege 3 cover by J Scott Campbell

I’d be remiss in failing to mention just how great Nolan North is as Deadpool:  but if you’ve ever seen the Wolverine portion of the Hulk VS animated-movie, then you probably already know how well North nails the character. In fact, it sounds like North is having pure fun as Deadpool, with equal parts comical, cooky, and crazy, and again, an occasional downright sinister edge that shows the kind of mean streak Deadpool has locked and hidden away beneath his mask of frivolity. The other voice actors, for the limited time they appear in the game, also are fantastic: notably Steve Blum as Wolverine and Fred Tatasciore as Cable make for some fantastic moments with Deadpool, especially playing the straight man to his eccentric tantrums.

Of course, while I’ve been gushing about how much Daniel Way and High Moon Studios got the personality of the game right, its the gameplay that also determines how good of a video game Deadpool actually is, and for the most part, it’s very good indeed. Unfortunately, though, it’s not as fantastic as the writing: but it works. Where in most games the story serves as a way to take the player from one section of gameplay to another, Deadpool almost works in an inverse matter, where the gameplay feels like its serving as filler to get you to the next part of the script. Still, there’s much to enjoy in Deadpool if you like action games, with the complexity of the gameplay opening up over time. In the beginning, I found the gameplay a bare skeleton of what most games offer, but I definitely found myself liking it more as time went on. Deadpool isn’t as tight and technical as the Batman: Arkham series or as stylish as the Devil May Cry or Bayonetta series, but it does manage to find a decent middle-ground.


Deadpool is a combo-based game, where the higher your combo goes, the more “DP” points you earn: taking too long to continue attacking or getting hit disrupts the combo. DP points can be used to unlock upgrades, new weapons, new attacks, and better stats. To build these combos, Deadpool has in his arsenal light and heavy attacks, a teleport-evade button, and can “interact” with certain objects and weapons. When prompted, he can counter attacking enemies with good timing, and pull off instant-kills.

With his guns, Deadpool can go into an “aiming” mode where he can shoot enemies from far away, but the “snap to” aiming is merely serviceable at best, and shouldn’t be completely relied on for kills unless facing aerial enemies (I should mention that Deadpool can shoot behind him while he runs, which is really awesome). Later Deadpool can incorporate “Gun-Kata” moves into his combos (think the movies Equilibrium and Ultraviolet), which are far more useful. Deadpool also has a range of crowd control weapons at his disposal, including flashbangs, grenades, mines, and even bear traps (which were one of the most useful tools I had against boss enemies). Finally, all of these together can help Deadpool build up “Momentum,” which unlock special attacks that can be used against groups of enemies.

Speaking of enemies, there’s certainly a wide, wide range of them. The majority of your white-skinned enemies are clones created by Mr. Sinister, all genetically infused with the powers of various X-Men characters. You’ll fight “Titan”-sized enemies with Fire and Ice gatling guns/grenade launchers (which you can use after their death), Blob-characters who can do major damage by belly-flopping onto you, Storm-like weather casters who can do major ranged-damage, and, most hilarious of them all, defective and explosive Gambit clones that shout in high pitched voices “Mon Ami! Mon Ami! Mon Ami!” while running up on you suicide bomber-style. While the diversity of these enemies are appreciated, you will be fighting tons and tons of these disposable henchmen, which can be both fun and frustrating depending on how many types are being thrown at you at once. The end of the game is virtually an endless barrage of clone battles, so be prepared for the long haul.


Visually, Deadpool falls between mediocre and good, but when you take into consideration the amount of things going on on-screen sometimes, and that both Deadpool and some of his enemies take on real-time damage as they get hurt, there’s some leeway to be given for the sometimes lackluster graphics. There’s also a lot of great sequences that break out of the typical gameplay to give players top-down action sequences, 2D platforming sequences, rail-shooter sequences, and more, so there’s a constant stream of variety to keep your attention. Deadpool is like an old black and white film or a retro video game: it may not always be as pretty as its peers, but the experience more than outweighs what it lacks visually.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: whether you’re a Deadpool fan or not, Deadpool the game is definitely worth trying. It won’t appeal to everyone, for sure, but for those of you who enjoy 4th wall jokes, references to everything from Marvel Comics to Star Trek, quirky and random segments, and little things littered throughout the game like Deadpool’s box of “Not Porn,” then you’ll love Deadpool.

Resident Evil 6: Zombies Go Global

Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil 6

Capcom’s beloved series has been evolving over the last installments. What used to be a tense tale of survival horror is becoming more of a hectic run and shoot dash through hell. Many things have changed in the newest entry and some may be surprised to find Resident Evil ranked among the best Xbox 360 shooter gamesPS3 and PC starting October 2nd. Yes, long time fans of the classic role playing game, Resident Evil will be more of a shooter game for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

Players may begin in any of the three intersecting story arcs. Leon and Helena continue their run after Leon has shot the President of the United States, who had turned zombie. In this arc, the main antagonist is introduced, one familiar to fans of the series: Ada Wong. Another path has Chris Redfield and his outfit, including new partner Piers Nivans, dropped off in China to battle the bioterrorism outbreak. It opens with a depressed Chris drowning in alcohol as a concerned Piers seeks to get him back on his feet and into the war effort. His depression is caused by Ada but it is unclear how. There is also some conflict with Leon that is sure to add to the story. In battling the virus, one hope is Jake Muller, a new addition who enjoys complete immunity to the virus, and seeking to obtain the secret of his immunity is Sherry Birkin (from RE 2). Jake is happy to sell his blood for research and while he may seem a smartass opportunist, he shows a human side as he looks after Sherry when they are caught in tight situations in what looks to be Eastern Europe.

All three stories can be played alone or in co-op, locally or through online play. The AI in RE 5 left fans desiring for better and, while Capcom is promising a smarter partner, the option for a second human player is a welcome feature. When the story lines cross, the game expands to up to four player co-op. Partners who do not burn through clips is not the only improvement to the AI. Enemies employ better tactics in their hunts, flanking and using cover accordingly, while some can heal themselves and partners in their group. A particular enemy, the Ustanak, is an imposing giant of zombie and robot composition. On its back it carries a cage in which to place captured players, which in turn act as shields adding a new tactic to the mix. The giant seems to be under the direct control of the always scantily clad Ada, leaving one to wonder what new virus is allowing control instead of just reckless destruction.

The series is indeed moving away from the scary exploration and set camera angles of the initial games. Puzzles are almost completely gone, littlebest xbox 360 shooterssearching for statues or keys or specific items to advance the mission. A red laser sight in the middle of the screen is the targeting reticle, part of a fully movable, 360 degree, shoot while not rooted to the ground system. There are now prompts on what to do next displayed on-screen. A distance marker moves about the view showing the player where to go. These changes might leave some sighing for the old days of puzzling their way out of decrepit towns flavored with jump scares in a lonely zombie land. The changes might also bring shooter fans into the fold with the dynamic combat. Sadly, the complete game has been leaked, but from what has been seen, RE can still make a pulse run wild, just in a different way. The game’s reputation certainly earns it a play through and fan reception will tell if this evolution is the way to go.

By Veritas