BlazBlue: Continuum Shift (PS3) – It’s amazing that I could pick up a less than super popular/hyped game on the very day it is released without preordering it! Usually I have to wait a few more days into the week of release. I don’t have much to say about it right now except that it has the usual assortment of additions and enhancements you’d expect out of an upgrade to a fighting game. Installing this game means the loading times are practically eliminated which is always a plus!
I also picked up a few more retro games:
Shin-Ou-Ken (SAT) – I picked this up to add another decent fighter to my huge collection of fighting games. It’s about as good as I expected, which is to say it is middling to decent in quality. Shin-Ou-Ken was originally on the Neo-Geo and it has the usual mostly ugly prerendered type of graphics you see in every Saurus developed game. This Saturn port has the oh-so-awesome addition of a combo counter which the Neo-Geo original lacked! [Also known as: Ragnagard]
Crest of Wolf (PCE) – I love beat-’em-ups as many do and I always find it funny that the PC Engine/TurboGrafx only had a handful of them if they were lucky since that system existed right in the middle of that genre’s heyday. Crest of Wolf is one of those few beat-’em-ups on the system. It not only obviously apes Final Fight a lot, but it is also lacking a lot of what made FF and other beat-’em-ups so good. CoW does not support 2-players simultaneously for starters and it also lacks variety in the moves you can pull off. Having said that, it’s still a decent brawler, but only recommended to die-hard fans of the genre. You can find it on the Virtual Console as Riot Zone if you really want to check it out for yourself.
Nexzr Special: Summer Carnival ’93 (PCE) – I love me some Star Soldier-esque shmups and this is another one of those. It is also the third and final in the series of games that Naxat Soft developed and used for their Summer Carnival tournaments in the early ’90s. The first was Recca (Famicom), then Alzadick (PCE), and finally Nexzr Special (PCE). This was the only one to be based on an actual existing game released the previous year sans the carnival tournament modes and was simply called Nexzr. I haven’t delved too deep into Nexzr Special yet, but it seems like a solid shmup that was worth picking up.
Final Soldier (PCE) – Speaking of the Star Soldier series of shmups by Hudson Soft, here is the second of four that were released for the PC Engine. Another solid entry in the series and only one that I’m aware of that adds the ability for you to choose the exact kind of weapon each color power-up grants. This one can be had on the Virtual Console as well.
Mirror’s Edge (PS3) review
– Graphics & Audio
The simple visuals in Mirror’s Edge are striking with the use of white for most of it and small amount of a vibrant red. It makes the game stand out in the sea of grey that surrounds it in the gaming industry. Even almost two years later it is still a good looking game thanks to the simple, but inspired art design. If there’s anything to complain about visually it would be the very eSurance looking animated cutscenes between the levels. They look cheap and really stupid. The music is quite good, especially the main theme “Still Alive,” but I feel most of the music in the game isn’t memorable enough besides the main theme. The sound effects are some of the best and it really does feel like you are inhabiting Faith’s body.
– Story & Characters
Well, they tried to tell a story with interesting characters, but failed. I didn’t get into the story, setting, or characters at all. Very bland. I’d say something more about it, but none of it was interesting.
This is where Mirror’s Edge shines the brightest. While this is not the first game to do first-person platforming, think Jumping Flash! and its two sequels on the original PlayStation, it is definitely the most ambitious and succeeds on almost all fronts. Running through the environments in Mirror’s Edge can be one of the best experiences had in a video game, but only when you are familiar with the levels enough to know where to go, what to do, and how to do it. That’s the main catch: you need to know what you are doing for it to be a smooth experience. Most people’s first time through will be stop-and-go with many frustrations because you simply don’t know where to go and what to do. Mirror’s Edge is one of those rare games where you need to play it multiple times in order to really get enjoyment out of it since the first time through will be rough going. The “hit detection” with environmental objects can be sketchy too, especially when you are asked to be really precise like making a big leap to grab a thin pipe on the side of a building.
Much stink has been made about the combat with enemies in Mirror’s Edge and detractors certainly have good points to back up what they are saying. Unlike most of them I don’t think the combat should be removed from a sequel, but rather improved. Being that the game is played in a first-person perspective it can be hard to tell distance in order to successfully land a running blow to an enemy. The hits lack oomph and sound weak like you are hitting with a wet paper sack. The disarming of enemies can be very frustrating no matter how many times you play the game since each weapon inexplicably has different strict timing as to when you need to press the button which leads to many deaths as you sit in front of an enemy and keep failing to get it right. When you do disarm an enemy you can then use their weapon to take down other foes and the gunplay in Mirror’s Edge is pretty average at best.
In the end, Mirror’s Edge is definitely a unique experience that I feel anyone that is remotely interested in should have. It’ll likely start out rocky, but if you stick with it and play it through more than once I think you’ll find a lot of the problems you had the first time will be much less of a nuisance and Mirror’s Edge will likely become a game that you’ll grow to love despite its shortcomings.
RATING: 4 out of 5 / 8.0 out of 10