Mass Effect: Andromeda Review


The combat in this game is really good.  I logged some 70hrs in this game but just got tired of the side-questing and dialogue with the crew etc…


  • Combat is improvement over the other Mass Effect titles, so many options and open world battles set this one apart
  • I didn’t notice the poor character animations that many have mentioned, the animations all looked high quality to me…
  • Scale of the game is great, a lot to do; 6+ full planets to land/explore.


  • A lot of bugs.  I played the PC version and had 10+ restarts, many visual bugs, and bugged boss fights including the final boss battle and ending was bugged for me!
  • Dialogue and story is uninspired, just never connected with any of the characters, really missed me some Garrus!


This is probably worth $60 at release but the plot fell short of my personal expectations…for me this was a lot like Final Fantasy 15…a solid entry but fell short of my expectations for the characters and story.  The buggy gameplay save/load situation was the worst for any game I have purchased in years but we got through it without any game-breaking errors.

“South Park: The Stick of Truth Review”

“South Park: The Stick of Truth” arrived to the PC and consoles on March 4th…Kevin and I decided this was one of those rare titles that deserved to be “pre-ordered” so we fired it up at midnight on the 4th and finished up our initial play-through on the 6th, in the AM hours. In the age of “binge-TV-watching,” this game played as though it was intended as the 18th season of South Park

The initial run-through time was 20 hours.  The game can probably be raced through in 10 hours with an ideal play-time somewhere in-between those numbers.  There are many opportunities for the developers at Obsidian and publisher Ubisoft to add DLC content, up-to-and including new quest lines.  The game is presented in an open-world atmosphere so there is some exploring and collecting do to along the way.  “Gamers” will want to play the game on “hardcore” difficulty settings while casual fans will find the game agreeable on “normal/easier” settings.  You can play as any of four character classes including: Warrior, Mage, Thief, or Jew.  I played the game as the Jew character…and was rewarded with significant humor!

Value: 9

The game opens with your character introduced to South Park as “the new kid.” Eric Cartman’s performance throughout is a favorite of mine, and he moves to direct your actions in the opening moments and provide tutorial information.  The developers at Obsidian have implemented an action/turn based-hybrid battle system that places you with one of your buddies versus any number of enemies.  Kenny, Cartman, Stan, Kyle, Jimmy, & Butters can be enlisted as your “buddy” who accompany you throughout the journey and can be switched up anytime, including mid-battle.  I utilized Butters or Cartman for most of the game because they have some great “abilities” to chose from.  A major element of the overall game-play is centered around farting, setting farts ablaze, and using farts for specialized purposes.  This juvenile and comedic element adds a layer to the game-play you cannot find elsewhere…

Gameplay: 8

The ever-twisting story, use of the South Park character line-up, and tremendous script make this one of the most memorable titles I have ever experienced.  There were at least 10 moments where I could not believe what I was seeing.  Hundreds of laugh out loud induced bursts and jaw-dropping “summons animations” will leave anyone with thoughts of, “why aren’t other developers able to come up with stuff like this?” Perhaps some of the best animations and abilities for any RPG in recent memory are littered throughout this title!  There is no point in going into a lot of detail here because presentation is the strongest facet of this blockbuster!

Overall Presentation: 10!

Total: 27 (any score 22 points or higher is recommended)

Spoilers: Twitch.Tv Highlights: click the link below…

(click on the image to view the play-thru slideshow…)

“Hammerwatch” Review

Hammerwatch is a modern take on Gauntlet that incorporates RPG elements, challenging boss fights, and dungeon crawling elements into 12 floors of enemies packed with secrets and passages to uncover.  The game is listed @ $9.99 on Steam, and this title is worth the price if you like enjoy this genre of game at all…I played through the game in single player mode in about 12 hours, but don’t forget this game is meant to be re-played, and/or played with friends…

Value: 7

I’ve read some negative reviews from those who refer to some elements of the game-play as a “grind”.  I have to disagree with this assessment. Once the player acclimates to a one of the four classes (I played through the game as a Ranger) chaining combos and defeating hundreds of enemies at once becomes second nature and you move much more freely through the levels.  I found that I wanted to play through the game on easy with a class that worked for me on my initial run-through.  I fully expect to play through the game again on the tougher difficulty setting, in fact I expect this will enhance the game quite a bit.  It matters how one utilizes the character classes and chooses to enhance their abilities in terms of how the game-play flows…There are also a set of collectibles throughout the game that impacts the overall completion and ending.

Gameplay: 7

The overall presentation of the game is certainly up to standards.  There is a great music soundtrack, and the levels are well designed with many traps and secrets. The boss battles are unique and memorable and the game includes mini-bosses too! Local and on-line multi-player for up to four players and controller support are included. For a $10 game, the developers went out of their way to make this feel like a modern and enhanced version of Gauntlet for today’s PC.

Overall Presentation: 8

Total: 22 (any score 22 points or higher is recommended)

(click on the image(s) for slideshow; watch the YouTube video below!)

“The Banner Saga” Review

I stumbled across “The Banner Saga” in mid-January and picked it up on it’s release date (1/14/14) for $24.99.  I didn’t know anything about it but the artwork looked great and I fell for the trailer and the fact that the developers had previous ties to Bioware…So far, I’ve logged nearly 50 hours of play plodding along on an epic journey with my clansmen.

Value: 8

To sum it up, this game is “Oregon Trail” meets “Final Fantasy Tactics,” crossed with a “choose your own adventure novel.”  There is challenging turn-based game-play that your heroes will face, but the game is unique because a lost battle does not mean you will have to replay a section, but move on at a disadvantage.  I have played through and seen one of the endings so I plan on making some changes to my decisions and opening at least one more alternative…On normal difficulty the game offers a challenge with special emphasis given to the final battle.

Gameplay: 8

This game exceeds expectations with regard to the quality of the artwork and the music composition.  You feel immersed in this unforgiving world and there is a constant sense of urgency moving your characters forward.  The vast majority of dialogue is presented in sub-titles with a very rare voice-over as a scene shifts.  This simplifies the dialogue scenes and further promotes the terrific animation.  The environments presented along the way reinforce the idea that your party has limited resources and that every decision could impact your companions.

Overall Presentation: 9

Total: 25 (any score 22 points or higher is recommended)

I’ve attached some screenshots below (click on the image for slideshow) and will put up a YouTube video soon with documentation on how to get through the final battle (if you had a little trouble and don’t care about some spoilers)…

Final Battle (Spoiler) Video on YouTube: 


“Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” Review

A couple weeks ago Kevin and I finished our play-through of Assassin’s Creed IV: Blag Flag…the verdict; this game has become my new favorite in an already solid series…

This week, Steam has the PC version marked down as low as $34.99 and there is some real value there if you like any of the other games in the series and have been considering this one.  I played to 93% completion and easily sunk 60+ hours exploring, hunting, questing, looting, spying, plundering, and diving for treasure.  The main campaign has methodically been devised to offer variety in the mission structures and locations. Additionally, the movie cut-scenes before and after missions (especially those with Blackbeard) are truly memorable. The developers took time to make my pirate adventure feel complete (and there are also a number of multi-player modes to choose from).

Value: 9

Detractors of the series complain that these titles are too easy and/or lack mission variety. Perhaps true in both cases for some of the previous titles in this series, but the developers are clearly making efforts to enhance difficulty in certain areas and keep things moving. There are many different mission types in Black Flag and the action that takes place at sea on your own ship is unlike any game-play experience I can think of.  The fighting is fluid and the progression is balanced as the game moves forward.  You gradually acquire a number of weapons and tools that can be employed in ways that completely alter how you might go about accomplishing a mission objective (the late game rope dart is fun…).

Gameplay: 9

The game looks great although there are some areas that look “wow” and others that look kind of “hhhmmm, what happened here.”  I say this because the game was being played on a PC at the max settings so we have to keep our standards high!  Additionally, Ubisoft has had a lot of experience with these games and we are on the brink of Next-gen games so lets keep the standards high.  That being said, the music is AMAZING.  I had my crew singing pirate “shanties” all game long.  I never wanted to fast travel because I might miss a storm at sea…you get the point.

Overall Presentation: 8.5 (+.5 modifier for “shanties” and music)

Total: 27/30 (Kevin & I recommend any score of 22 points or higher…)

How I “Review” Video Games…

Reviewing Rubric:

Value: 1-10 ; Gameplay: 1-10 ; Overall Presentation: 1-10

Plus or Minus a “Modifier” if there is something especially positive or negative in the game that was unexpected/unintended/not advertised etc.


Ever bought a game for $50-$65, played through the campaign in under 10 hours, and found that you really had nothing left to do?  It has happened to us all, but there are ways to avoid this hazard by simply doing a little bit of digging…

Reviewers often do not make reference to the replay value of a title or its current price point in relation to the presented game-play/content.  There are a ton of games out there today for PC, XBOX 360, or PS3 that you can pick up at the “used” or discounted price points and then get hundreds of hours of game-play.  “Bad games” from developers & studios seem to ignore the “value” premise of a game.  They would prefer consumers pick up the next recycled first-person shooter for $60 and then drop $50 more on DLC even though the game was maybe 85% percent done when they released it…

It bothers me when a publisher spends two or three years making trailers for a game, gets the guys/girl at all excited, and then they release a crap product. What about all those people who pre-ordered before the game was reviewed?  Many of those customers often desire to show support for a game or developer but instead are duped by the parties who chose to release a sub-par product in the end…

Example after example in the marketplace shows us that a game is not done until it is done!  Nobody is gonna argue with you for dropping $60 or more on GTAV or a game that delivers similar value relative to content.  I think we all realize that there are only 10 or so games like this released each year while publishers would have us believe that every title of the hundreds they release each year are worth $60 plus DLC…?   I think not.

*Here is an example of “current” great value for PC gamers:

Just Cause 2 sells on Steam for $14.99, it was originally released in March 2010 at the $60 price point to decent reviews…I bought multiple copies for the PC @ $2.99 during a recent Steam Sale.  The game has now been patched in recent months to include multi-player support for the PC (patched to version 1.3 on 1/30/14).  Most users find that they end up sinking 50 hours or more into the main campaign/side quests and now multi-player support will add to this!  This is the type of game that I want to review and re-review on this site so that gamer’s do not miss these opportunities.