Thursday, January 27, 2022

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Sore Thumbs





Xbox One

For the last few years, video games have been the last sanctuary for Transformers fans determined to protect their childhood memories from the brutal assaults of director Michael Bay. Those days are over. After two surprisingly good games featuring the Autobots and Decepticons, the third sees the “robots in disguise” succumb to the director’s all-consuming influence. Acting as both a prequel to the excellent Fall of Cybertron and a sequel to Bay’s stupid Age of Extinction, Rise of the Dark Spark has the unenviable task of merging two storylines that are about as compatible as a Constructicon and an Aerialbot. (They’re from different sets). But even without its doomed narrative, Dark Spark bears the unmistakable signs of a game rushed through development in order to coincide with a movie release date.


In vehicle form, the characters handle poorly and provide absolutely no sense of speed. Robot forms control better but are ushered from one interminable fight to the next, where they face off against enemies that are either hideously overpowered or woefully idiotic. The A.I.-controlled sidekick (who’s usually dying somewhere nearby) hints at a two-player co-op campaign that must have been abandoned. And the environments are either bland and generic or recycled from assets stolen from Fall of Cybertron. However, it is briefly fun to stomp around as a Dinobot, continuously breathing fire on everything you see. If only his flaming halitosis could’ve consumed the whole game, it might’ve all been worth it.

entwinedboxENTWINED   (E)


Sony Computer Entertainment

PlayStation 4

PlayStation consoles have been host to some of the artsiest, high-concept games ever made, and Entwined clearly aims to be one of them. It has the lush art design, the story open for interpretation, the minimalist gameplay—all qualities that made Journey so memorable—but it doesn’t have them in the right proportions. Soaring down a tunnel as an origami bird and fish is dull, and fusing those creatures into a dragon with unresponsive controls is frustrating. The game simply doesn’t generate enough wonder to excuse these faults. Ultimately, Entwined is done in by its own lofty ambition to be Journey. It flies closer to the sun than the wings of a dragon-bird-fish can handle.




Xbox One

You’ve got to hand it to Capcom: they know how to laugh at themselves. The title crams in just about every meaningless word that was ever attached to a Street Fighter II spinoff, but that only hints at the ‘90s nostalgia contained within this latest Dead Rising DLC. We’ve got Frank, dressed like Ryu, firing hadoukens at zombies. We’ve got Annie, dressed like Regina from Dino Crisis, summoning her pterodactyl to take the “un-” out of the undead. One minute you’ll be tasked to swiftly destroy 100 zombies, and the next you’ll be instructed to decimate a single parked car. After a while it can leave you feeling a bit over-stimulated, but in the meantime, it’s inspired kinetic nuttiness.

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