Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves Review (No Honor to be Found)

I mentioned in my Top 10 Favorite Video Game Franchises article that I love the Sly Cooper series.  At the time I had written the article, I stated that I had bought the HD collection of the original Sly Cooper trilogy for the PS3.  Well, now I’ve had a chance to actually play those HD remakes and, while I still love Sly 1 and 2, I have recently had my eyes opened.  Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is a travesty.  Despite being the only game I ever completed in the franchise when I was younger, this is easily the worst of the original trilogy.  So, instead of the usual review format, allow me to list off the multiple, MULTIPLE shortcomings of this heinous game.

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STORY:  While this is my most nitpicky bullet point, I just felt the story of Sly 3 was simply not as tight and well thought out as the first two were.  The first game was relatively straightforward: Bad guys took your stuff, you have to take them down and get your stuff back.  Sly 2 felt like a true sequel, continuing the story of the first game and expanding on it.  Sly 3 has little to no connection to the first two games. Sure, they have some recurring characters, but these characters simply do not follow the continuity of the first two games.  The villains were also generally weaker than the villains of the first two.  There was no set “rival gang” anymore, which made the levels feel even more disconnected than usual.  The main baddy of the piece gets hardly any screen time and we never really develop an appreciation for how powerful or bad they were.  Simply put, Sly 3’s story was just the weakest of the bunch.

MISSIONS:  This nitpick is best explained through examples.  Sly 1:  The missions were simple and straightforward (if a little repetitive for the game itself).  You go to each stage in each level, collect the keys, get to the bad guy and defeat them.  These missions were between 5 to 10 minutes long and felt quick and easy.  Sly 2:  The missions got a bit more complex and felt a bit longer but still felt manageable and fun.  The story got a bit more complicated and it stood to reason that the missions would as well.  These missions could be about 15 minutes long, 20 if it’s a bit difficult.  Sly 3:  In short, each mission was simply TOO FUCKING LONG.  A single mission in a level will take up to half an hour to complete with multiple stages within said mission.  The checkpoint system was AWFUL as you lost a lot of progress (be it in killing of a certain number of enemies or collecting a certain number of items) if you die once.  The other two games simply did not have that kind of problem.  It was beyond frustrating.

GAMEPLAY:  The core gameplay of Sly 3 is, thankfully, a lot like the first two.  You sneak around as Sly and pull off heists with your buddies.  One plus this game has is that the worlds felt better planned out so that they were easily playable with any of the characters.  One of my biggest gripes with Sly 2 was that controlling Bentley or Murray felt clunkier, especially when trying to navigate each level.  Sly 3 fixed that problem.  However, they added an even BIGGER problem.  Sly 3 constantly has levels where a new mechanic is added for no good reason.  You have to learn an entirely new control scheme in order to drive a car, fly a plane, even one of the worst swimming mechanics I’ve ever experienced in a game.  I wouldn’t mind this so much if they didn’t IMMEDIATELY disregard the new mechanic so that you pretty much NEVER HAVE TO USE IT AGAIN.  Or at least they wait just long enough in the game that you don’t remember the controls at all and then WHAM there it is again and you have to relearn it and the level is even HARDER.  The new mechanics were simply not needed and made the game feel way more complicated than it needed to be.

GLITCHES: Okay, simply put, the HD remake is glitched to the point of insanity.  I came across MULTIPLE game breaking glitches that forced me to reset the game and pray that it didn’t happen again.  A few examples:  Bentley not equipping a gadget that I had just bought and NEEDED to complete a mission despite definitely buying said gadget, Murray just stopping and not moving at all at a part where I needed to protect him with a turret, two pirate ships just DISAPPEARING out of nowhere meaning I was stuck in a battle screen with no way out and no way to progress in the game.  Just, seriously, there was absolutely NO reason for the game to be THIS glitchy when the first two HD games had no problems.

I’ll say it again.  Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves is a TRAVESTY of phenomenal proportions.  With a highly convoluted and, frankly, boring story, gameplay that just got overly complicated, missions that took small eternities to complete, and glitches that make the game unplayable, this game makes me sick.  It should be ashamed to be part of the Sly Cooper family.  If it were up to me, I’d take every copy of this game in existence and put them in a vault at the bottom of the ocean.  And hopefully no thieves would be able to crack that vault in my lifetime.

 

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My Nuzlocke Adventure: Pokemon on Hard Mode

“This game is far too easy.”  This is a phrase that you will never hear me say.  Despite being a gamer, I still consider myself an intermediate gamer at best.  Even Pokemon can be a challenge for me when I’m just playing it normally.  So when I challenged myself to do a Nuzlocke playthrough of Pokemon Silver, I knew I was in for a rough ride.

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I couldn’t find a non-DeviantArt Nuzlocke related image.  Have a bunny instead.

For those who don’t know, here’s a brief explanation of what a Nuzlocke playthrough is.  The rules are simple:  1) You may only capture the first Pokemon you meet in each new area.  If it faints or flees, you can’t capture any other Pokemon.  2)  If a Pokemon on your team faints, it’s considered dead.  You must release it.  3) If all of your Pokemon die and you black out or white out, it’s Game Over.  I added an additional rule for myself, just to make the game even more difficult.  4) I was only allowed to get all of my Pokemon to the same level as the Gym Leader’s strongest Pokemon and no higher.  And now you know the rules I set for myself as I picked up Silver.  And, boy, this was some experience.

The adventure started off terribly as I tried multiple ways to even start PLAYING this game.  First, both my Gold and Silver GameBoy Color copies finally ran out of batteries, so I couldn’t save the games.  Then the emulator I found online for Crystal simply decided it wouldn’t load any of my saved games.  Finally, I shilled out $45 to just buy SoulSilver on the DS and get this game legitimately STARTED already.

Once the game finally started, it went along well for a while.  I tried to make my team as diverse as possible, considering the rules.  I even got a full team fairly quickly, putting any additional Pokemon I captured into storage in case I needed them.  However, things took a sad turn when I lost my favorite Pokemon to the rival of the game (whom I nicknamed Prick).  Nothing the Dunsparce (so named because a friend of mine, when I asked him to name it, said “I’ve got nothing”) was killed by the opponent’s Rattata.  Dunsparce had been a good member of the team, going so far as to help me defeat the first Gym Leader.  Most people think Dunsparce is stupid.  But Nothing the Dunsparce was a strong and noble creature.  I salute you, Sir Nothing.

Things got progressively worse as I went along.  I lost the replacement I got for Dunsparce, a Paras I named Funguy, fairly quickly.  I soon got a second replacement and trained hard.  Everyone told me the third Gym Leader, Whitney, was hard as balls.  I foolishly didn’t listen.  I just trained and went along my merry way.  As soon as I started fighting Whitney, I lost Pokemon after Pokemon after Pokemon until, finally, I simply lost.  Whitney’s Miltank was simply too strong for me.

So, in honor of my lost Pokemon, in honor of KillerCroc the Croconaw, Sissel the Gastly, OwlBeBack the Hoothoot, Pussywillow the Bellsprout, Rockington the Geodude, Carrie the Drowzee, and especially Nothing the Dunsparce, I ask you all to be cautious.  If you start a Nuzlocke challenge, cherish your Pokemon.  You simply never know when their next attack will be their last.

Review: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

I only recently started getting into RPGs.  When I was younger, I thought the concept was long, boring, and just not for me.  I only really liked Pokemon because of the cool monsters.  Then, I got the 3DS remake of Ocarina of Time and my outlook on these types of games totally changed.  Now I can see how RPGs can be fun.  It’s with this thought in mind that I picked up Mario & Luigi:  Superstar Saga, the old Game Boy Advance game.

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A new threat has come to the Mushroom Kingdom in the form of the evil Cackletta.  She’s stolen Princess Peach’s voice for some nefarious purpose.  It’s up to the famous Mario Bros. to journey to the BeanBean Kingdom in order to get it back.  Twists and turns abound, meaning this is one adventure that isn’t as simple as just getting to the castle…

The story and humor are probably the highest points of this game.  Its a fantastically funny game with great comedic timing.  The characters know just when to fall over, just when to pull a wacky face, just when to say some kinda witty one-liner to make me laugh every time.  The story is also not as straightforward as most Mario games (where you simply save the princess from the bad guys).  In fact, a few of the twists caught me off guard completely.

The artwork is very good as well.  Everything looked very cartoony, of course, but the setting and characters still feel like they had a weight to them.  For example, when you’re getting Mario or Luigi to smack a rock with a hammer, you can almost feel the crack of the rock in your own hands.  The character designs were fantastic as well, including the hilarious residents of the BeanBean Kingdom.

As to the game play, the word of the day is “tedious.”  The puzzles, while at times creative, felt like they were repeated ad nauseam.  The enemies had some variety to them but once you’ve seen them once you’re sure to see them about a dozen or so more times.  And the bosses.  Dear lord, the bosses.  The bosses are long, tedious, and rage-to-the-point-of-wanting-to-punch-something hard.  I believe part of the problem might be that I was underleveled for most of them (which means, yes, you need to level grind like crazy in this game).  Still, even if I had been the correct level, the dodge mechanic, the attack mechanic, all of it just felt long and boring after a while.  The bosses always put a damper on an otherwise pleasant experience.

Despite the tedium, this game was still a lot of fun.  The characters were funny and well designed.  The world was interesting to explore with a lot of different areas.  The puzzles, while repetitive later on, did get me to think.  It’s a fun game, but be prepared for a lot of grinding and horrendously tedious bosses (ESPECIALLY the final boss, may she rot in Hell).  I will definitely play Partners in Time when I’m able to get my hands on it, but I will go in ready to grind my butt off… Wait, that sounded wrong…

Flicking Through Netflix: Ripper Street (Episode 1) (I Need Light)

Jack the Ripper is one of the most well known serial killers of all time.  There have been countless stories, books, movies, video games, you name it, that have tried to tell and retell his story again and again.  He is definitely one of the most interesting and horrifying mysteries in history.  If you’re going to invoke the name of the Ripper in the title of your TV series, you better deliver something special.  And Ripper Street… Well, it definitely delivers something.

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Ripper Street takes place in April 1889, smack dab in the middle of Ripper’s spree.  However, for the characters of the show, it’s been six months since the last brutal murder.  Now another murder has taken place in another alley and Detective Inspector Edmund Reid is investigating.  Is this just another murder made to look like that infamous monster or is the Ripper back?

I usually enjoy cop and mystery shows.  I suppose it has something to do with my love of puzzles.  I like trying to put the pieces together before the characters on screen do.  However, the first episode of this show left me feeling a bit “meh.”  That’s not to say the show is bad, but I can’t find myself saying it’s all that good either.  I think part of it has to do with the characters.

Edmund Reid is a no-nonsense cop that doesn’t like to jump to conclusions, does whatever it takes to get answers, and always seems like he’s in control of the situation.  Sound familiar?  That’s because he’s exactly like every other cop in the history of cop shows.  He even has burn scars that let’s you know he has a “murky past” that he’s trying to distance himself from.  He felt generic.  He’s well acted, but the character himself just felt so boring because he wasn’t anything new.

As for the story, it doesn’t really do anything new either.  Spoiler warning, the death in this episode has nothing to do with the Ripper.  In fact, the Ripper doesn’t show up at all in this episode aside from lingering worries from the folks around town.  The mystery itself just felt bland.  I found myself not caring whether or not the cops found the killer.

Perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood for a show like this right now.  It’s by no means a bad show.  It’s decent enough.  The set and costume design is done with perfect care.  It LOOKS like England in the 1880s (at least, from what I can tell).  The story is at least competently written even if it’s nothing new.  Still, I can’t say that I’ll be continuing to watch it.  There are definitely better cop shows out there.  Of course, there’s worse you can do with your time than giving this a shot if you’re really in the mood for a British cop show.