Salty Reviews: Torchlight
Torchlight is definitely pleasing to the eye. It makes good use of a wide range of different colors, without puking rainbows everywhere.
As with any good dungeon crawler, each area is randomly generated. You can even buy scrolls to teleport you to mini-dungeons completely unrelated to the story, so there’s plenty to do even after you beat the game.
The modding community is huge, and Runic Games (the developers) encourages it. There are already hundreds of mods for the game that range from new classes and new dungeons to item creation and interface addons.
Voice acting is dreadful, as is the story. You are a generic hero in a generic camp that was set up just outside a generic demon infested cave of doom. Every dungeon is about three times as long as it should be before you start to bore of the repetitive environments.
The cartoony graphics and giant user interface subtract from the fun of click-and-smash combat, and most of your time will be spent rummaging through your tiny inventory to make space for more garbage.
Torchlight is ridiculously easy. Even on harder difficulties, killing enemies is about as challenging as kicking lemmings off a cliff.
This game bring nothing new or innovative to dungeon crawler genre. Torchlight is Diablo 2.5 in every sense. There are scrolls, portals, abilities, talent trees, and skill distribution all identical to the first two Diablo games. The only thing that you wouldn’t find in Diablo is a pet to carry your useless items back to town to be sold (they stole that idea from Dungeon Siege).
I’m torn when it comes to rating this game. There is nothing new or exciting that Torchlight brings to the dungeon crawler franchise, but it’s still fun. For that I give it a 6. At the same time it is incredibly cheap; we’re talking $10 for a game that could have easily been marketed for $40, for this I give it 8. Sadly, I am forced to compromise between the two. Torchlight gets 7 Diablo clones out of 10.
Salty Reviews: Red Faction: Guerrilla
Shit blows up on Mars. And by shit, I mean buildings.
Red Faction is about destruction, pure and simple. Buildings can be completely demolished via remote charges, missile launchers, or a simple sledgehammer. End game goodies include a rifle that will disintegrate anything you shoot, and a god damned jetpack. Snipers on a rooftop? no problem: go blow out the support beams and watch the building collapse in on them. Convoy you say? Wait at an underpass and drop a freaking bridge on them.
We also get good vehicle handling for once. It’s no Gran Turismo or GTA4, but gets the Salty Stamp of Approval nonetheless. Along with your generic trucks and cars, there are mech vehicles with different perks. One shoots missiles, one has a jet pack, and one is really, really big.
Last we have something small, but still worth mentioning. There is a beautiful day and night cycle to break the tiresome red landscape of Mars. In fact, this is one of the more visually polished games I’ve played recently.
It’s the same bland story we’ve been seeing since Final Fantasy II. You play an average joe drafted into a rebellion against the oppressive government. Your character Alec Mason has about as much personality as a bearded rock with a badass sledgehammer. Sure the developers put allot of work into the sledgehammer, but at the end of the day, you’re still playing a boring nobody (I had to look up his name he was so forgettable).
Side missions are great, usually. If you’re not already in the middle of an assignment, your friends will start hollering at you to intercept a convoy or chase down an informant. Apparently you’re the only guerilla capable of getting anything done. Everyone else is busy defecting to the government or barking orders to you over the radio.
Multiplayer has a fresh feel with the destructive elements and unique modes. One of which is Siege, where you take turns destroying and defending key points on a map. Unfortuntely it gets repetetive pretty quickly and the third person camera can be annoying during fast paced combat. So multiplayer neither benefits nor hinders the game.
Everything blends together well, especially when blending implies driving a vehicle armed with a mini nuke into the side of an enemy building. If you are looking for a game with character development or a good story then pass on Red Faction. If you want to blow shit up with no strings attached, this is the game for you. Red Faction gets 7 bearded rocks out of 10.
Salty Reviews: Mass Effect 2
The Good The game is just beautiful to look at, and the story is by far one of the most compelling on the Xbox 360. Several character classes, multiple endings, and many meaningful relationships all give Mass Effect 2 extremely high replay value. The Bad Exploration is downright dull. The terrible dune buggy from the first game has been removed, and replaced with an even more boring planet scanner. You move a small reticule across a planet’s surface until you find minerals to extract. That’s it. And it doesn’t help that your scanner move at an irritatingly slow pace. The Salty Armor and weapon customization has been greatly simplified, for better or for worse. There are only a few customizable pieces you can change, but you can customize patterns, texture, and color of your armor from there. 9/10
Battles feel very solid to say the least. Unlike the first Mass Effect, the cover system works great, and the combat is significantly faster as well. Each class also gives unique abilities to use during fights, which helps combat from feeling too dull.
The insane difficulty is by far one of the biggest challenges I’ve had in a long time. Hardcore gamers should be thrilled to see the amount of squad strategy and skill needed to best Mass Effect 2 on its hardest mode.
Don’t wear a helmet if you can avoid it. you end up drinking water through some invisible hole or worse, your love intrest will make out with your faceplate.
If you’ve played the first Mass Effect and liked it, I can guarantee you a solid 9 out of 10. But the story simply depends too strongly on the first game. Playing Mass Effect 2 before beating the first game would be like watching the Star Wars saga starting at episode 5. For those of you who HAVE played the first game: Mass Effect 2 gets 9 helmet make-out scenes out of 10.
The game is just beautiful to look at, and the story is by far one of the most compelling on the Xbox 360. Several character classes, multiple endings, and many meaningful relationships all give Mass Effect 2 extremely high replay value.
Exploration is downright dull. The terrible dune buggy from the first game has been removed, and replaced with an even more boring planet scanner. You move a small reticule across a planet’s surface until you find minerals to extract. That’s it. And it doesn’t help that your scanner move at an irritatingly slow pace.
Armor and weapon customization has been greatly simplified, for better or for worse. There are only a few customizable pieces you can change, but you can customize patterns, texture, and color of your armor from there.
Salty Reviews: Rage
The visual effects in Rage are absolutely stunning. A post apocalyptic wasteland has never looked this good. Decaying rusted environments clash with the cloudy blue skies, and gives the game a Mad Max feel.
While the story is a bit dry and tedious, the characters you meet more than make up for it. Slightly exaggerated features and facial expressions give them each a very unique feel. The enemies are also worth mentioning. Melee attackers won’t just make a B-line for you. They often dodge shots, and even climb obstacles to reach you faster. This can lead to some pretty erratic and exciting combat.
Everything can be customized, crafted, and upgraded. Rage has over a dozen different weapons, each with a distinct feel. Shotguns feel powerful, and crossbow bolts land with a satisfying thunk when they hit. My favorite by far was the wingstick, a bladed boomerang; great for lopping off heads. Discovering a new weapon was exhilarating. I couldn’t wait to test all the different guns.
For the first time in a shooter, driving doesn’t feel gimmicky. In fact, racing and vehicle combat in Rage reminds me of Twisted Metal. Demolition derbies have a chaotic quality that fits perfectly in this game. As you progress through the world you can even outfit your buggy with different weapons and add-ons.
Vehicle challenges are often based on luck more than skill. When killed, the opponent instantly respawns at that same spot. It often leads to frustrating situations where you will destroy the first racer, they immediately spawn, kill you, and regain control. Later races just feel like a leapfrog to the finish, with a 50-50 chance of winning.
Save points are virtually non existent. If you want to avoid the headache I received after losing two hours of gameplay, SAVE OFTEN.
If you couldn’t get into Fallout because of how in depth it was, or didn’t enjoy Borderlands because of the item clutter and art style, this is the game for you. Combat is fast, and the interface is easy to navigate. Rage is a conventional shooter in a turbulent wasteland with some great vehicular combat.
lukemckee asked: Following because of your review of Borderlands. Very good/fair review without a lot of the "gamer nerd rage" that is common place. Yes I'm behind the times. I'm 37 with two young sons who monopolize both my time and consoles! But picking up Borderlands was a good mistake on my part. Grinding through it an hour or two at a time. Waiting anxiously for ACRev. And hopefully a Red Dead Sequel. Best of luck to you... Luke
Thanks for the feedback. I hope my reviews continue to prove interesting for you.
Red Dead Redemption was one of my most favorite games of 2010 (along with Mass Effect 2, and Starcraft 2). I remain skeptical about Assassin’s Creed: Revelations however. Brotherhood was only a slight improvement over the previous game.
Mostly, I am looking forward to Skyrim and Torchlight II. Though next year will probably be spend sinking hours into Star Wars TOR and Diablo III.
Thanks again for for taking the time to comment on my work. I look forward writing even more reviews in the future.
Salty Reviews: Lost Odyssey
Not just a role playing game, a whole lot of role playing game…
A feature called the Aim Ring System lets you deal more damage to enemies. Basically hold down the trigger button and release it at specific points. Later you can enhance characters with rings that will change the status effects of the Aim Ring System. This will keep combat from going stale, especially when you find yourself dealing out generic attacks 15 times in a row.
Spells and skills are learned in a fashion very similar to Final Fantasy IX where equipping different accessories will permanently teach you the moves. We’re also given the genius music of Nobuo Uematsu, the composer behind nearly every Sqare-Enix game.
Lastly, the game is four discs long. Four long ass discs pumped full of story.
This game is hard. We’re talking try a ten minute boss fight for two hours hard. No big deal, go grind for a while and pump your characters up right? Dead wrong, the game has level caps for combat areas which force you to confront ridiculously powerful bosses. Even random encounters will sometimes result in a dreary game over screen. If that wasn’t punishment enough, some points in the game will split your characters up. Remember that level 10 character you never used? Yeah now you have to drag him through level 20 zones with no help.
Sadly, this is not everyone’s cup of tea. Lost Odyssey was made for the hardcore gamer, and no one else. Casual players will end up either uncontrollably frustrated by the difficulty, or dumbfounded with more plot twists than an M Night Shyamalan movie. Bruce Willis was dead the whole time, and Samuel L Jackson was a terrorist. There, I just ruined two great movies for you.
This game pays huge tribute to the old school Final Fantasy games. Nearly every innovative feature found in an RPG over the last 10 years has been jammed into this game. Luckily for us, Microsoft Game Studios has blended it all together masterfully. Lost Odyssey is the best traditional RPG I have played on the Xbox 360. It should easily hold you over until Final Fantasy XIII. Lost Odyssey gets 8 out of 10.