Posted by Pip
BR1- A Reintroduction To Breck
Breck's arc officially began in her game, but I promised a recap for those that couldn't play it so here we go. A 100% accurate and in no way biased retelling of Breck's story from Breck herself. Okay, she actually found the gauntlet in a treasure chest, not a box, so that's the only discrepancy in her tale. All other information is true and quotes are direct. She saved Lust, tangled with a hooded figure that let a monster out of a cage to eat her, triumphed, faced off against Greed, blew him up (in her defense, she only knocked the torch out of his hand and the powder kegs he was standing next to blew him up), found out that the hooded figure was seemingly a normal dude, but a dude that wants to get on the Tarot's good side by fighting the Sins, saved the rest of the team, and decided that the only proper way to use ancient powerful spirits was for super heroics.
This was really fun to draw, so I may be tempted to do a whole arc told from a host's memory down the road.
Long, Sonic Bi-Cycle? Review: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (PS3)- I mentioned it in my demo review, but the tips on the loading screens are called "Sonic Says". That alone totally endeared me to the game and lets you know that people that actually like Sonic made this. I liked SSASR far more than the recent Mario Kart games. The weapons are actually fair, you win based on skill instead of just luck, and most importantly... you can turn off rubberbanding! The characters aren't very balanced though or the computer just outright cheats in the higher difficulties though. Some characters can drive at normal speed and be faster than you even when you're boosting. Motorcycle characters can boost any time they want. And the computer brazenly cheats when it comes to items. It gets streams of good items when it's behind but if you're ever in last place, you get the game's equivalent of the green shell. The computer can also drive over mines or through explosions and not take any damage. I've even seen the computer strafe in mid-air to avoid falling in a pit. If the game doesn't want to let you win, you aren't going to win. Oddly though, there are some stages that the computer just can't do and where you've been getting your butt kicked on previous tracks, you'll be able to lap the AI players. The computer players get stuck on parts of the level and won't reverse to drive around it, so they stay there until somebody bumps them loose or will spend the entire race stuck on a road divide. Difficulty-wise, the whole package is very uneven. The game is either super easy or unbelievably hard. Even on the higher difficulties where the computer is cheating like mad and you're getting walloped, there will be a race or two where you decimate them. 75% of the missions you'll get a triple-A rank on your first attempt but then there are five or so that are incredibly difficult and 2 or 3 you'll tear your hair out and swear constantly at. Time trials online are full of cheaters (people with lap times of 8 seconds, yeah...) but you'll beat every single staff ghost on your first attempt (I seriously hope the staff isn't actually that bad at this game). There are a few stinkers, but overall, the tracks are pretty good and some of them are a blast. Lots of opportunities to use some strategy, a ton of drifting, and just interesting visuals that nicely reference past Sega (not just Sonic) games. On some tracks it's difficult to tell where the road ends and walls or dirt begin because the colors blend together, but one or two races and you'll be in the clear. The mission mode is probably the least developed part of the game. So few of the missions present any kind of challenge or teach you anything that the whole mode just feels grind-y. There are a couple of good ones but you have to beat the initial ones to unlock them, so expect a lot of "Race this course as X character" missions. All-Stars continues the fine racing game tradition of having as annoying an announcer as possible, but they give you the option to turn him off. They recorded a surprising amount of dialogue for him but there's one line that just bugs the heck out of me. He has several variations of "Things are starting to hot up out there." "Hot up"? Not "heat up"? I have never heard a person ever say "hot up" before. It actually gives you your stats for completing trophies too, which is a feature I can't believe more games don't do. It would be nice for a breakdown on the ones list "Do X with every character" or "Race to every song" but it's a step in the right direction. The instruction manual giving you misinformation regarding trophies not so much. The music is also fantastic. The more recent Sonic game may rely on crap rock to fill out the tracks, but almost everything here is a winner. The Jet Set Radio soundtrack is insane to begin with, but set a race to it and it's that much better. Even the Billy Hatcher music is kind of kick-ass as race music. Throw in some Samba Di Amigo on top of all that and you have a soundtrack that I'd probably be willing to buy. Unfortunately, some parts of the game are super buggy. Some of the trophies won't unlock when you fulfill the requirements but will then randomly unlock when doing the exact same thing in another race, none of the trophies appear on the Playstation website so you can't compare with friends, and you can have trophies unlock on PSN but not unlock on the in-game list. More seriously, you will fall through the tracks. A lot. The game has major problems with handling straight drops,jumps, or changes in elevation. Some tracks are worse than most and others are perfectly fine but some racers are worse than others, so combining them leads to no-win situations. Dr. Robotnik suffers the most and there's seemingly no way to play through the casino tracks without having him defy the laws of physics. There are just random odd bugs too. I was messing around with the characters and when I used BD Joe's super move, I fell through the ground, shot up in position, and respawned with another super move. I used it again, the same thing happened, and I automatically came in first place. Despite big issues like balance and quality control, it's still an excellent racing game and better than any kart racer I've played in a long while.
There is a multiplayer mode but it doesn't function very well. I tried it across multiple days and only one race would show. The username and country varied but it always said the race had 6/8 people but when you tried to join it, you get a message that the race no longer exists, yet when you loaded multiplayer again, there that 6/8 race was. It's extra disappointing because there are a few trophies that require multiplayer, so while I was happily willing to put the time into the game to platinum it since it's fun, said platinum is a crap shoot. I eventually found some games during a weekend, grinded out all the online trophies and stopped bothering with the multiplayer. When you are able to get into an online game, there are some more issues. Mainly with characters and item frequency. You can only have one of each character playing and Shadow is fairly overpowered so he gets picked almost immediately and then nobody else can use him. Ridiculous item distribution is great when you get it but game breaking when another guy does. I was able to get three sets of three homing rockets while jockeying between second and third place in once race (which is totally, totally unfair to everybody else) and then a race later, that happened to somebody else and he unloaded six of them into me (which is totally, totally unfair to me). Competition-wise, it's kind of boring. The same two people came in first and second place in every single race and they finished early enough so that anybody passed 4th place always got a DNF, so really it was just a matter of whether you come in third or fourth or stumble upon a room or people that are bad. The game can't migrate hosts so expect lots of dropped races. If you can find a good crowd with a stable connection, it's a lot of fun. Most of the time though, it isn't.
Sins Committed: Buggy, Bad multiplayer, Bad difficulty balance, Big the Cat is in it
Virtues Acted: Good music, Good level design, Fun, Good controls, Good graphics, Shooting Big the Cat with rockets over and over. What? He totally has it coming.