This is a new series of posts that I’ll be doing every so often. There are so many awesome games that came out in the Seventh Generation of consoles and I want to highlight some of my favourites. Enjoy!
7. Split Second (Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, PSP)
Split Second is a high-octane racer with a lot of action and lots of destruction. Imagine if the Burnout series had a child and it drank a barrel of Red Bull, the result would be Split Second.
Your objective in Split Second is like every other racing game, to come first but it isn’t as simple as driving around the track and crossing the line. Other racers will be slamming against you, trying to run you of the road much like Burnout. Split Second’s cool unique gimmick though is the activation of your surroundings.
You can use the environment around you during the race thanks to a power meter. You can make shortcuts, drop objects onto other racers or activate big environmental objects like a dam which can take out multiple racers and sometimes change the track.
Split Second is a cool racer and is a blast to play with friends. The chances of this getting a sequel are slim, so pick up a copy (it’s fairly cheap now) and show it some love.
6. Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage (Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Koei Tecmo and developer Omega Force have been adapting the Musou formula to several anime franchises such as One Piece, Berserk and Attack on Titan. It should come as no surprise that Omega Force made a Fist of the North Star game using the Musou formula and let me tell you, it’s a lot of fun.
If you’ve played a Musou style game (Dynasty Warriors or Samurai Warriors) before, you know how it works. There are many enemies in front of you and dotted around the map and your job is to defeat them and fulfill your objective. It’s the same here but the maps are bit smaller and there aren’t as many enemies as you would see in the battlefields of Dynasty Warriors. Smaller maps work well here as it means less time roaming around the map and more time for laying the smack down on some undesirables.
You play as Kenshiro who is one of the most badass characters in manga and anime in my opinion. He uses the style known as Hokuto Shinken which is very powerful. In the Musou games, characters have one or two special moves that can deal huge amounts of damage. There special moves in Ken’s Rage and they are the different techniques of Hokuto Shinken such as Hundred Crack Fist, which makes Kenshiro unleash a barrage of fists upon the enemy.
A friend of mine got this game on a whim and enjoyed it that much that he started reading the manga and watching the anime. If you haven’t read the Fist of the North Star manga or watched the anime, do so. Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage is a good introductory point for newcomers and good fan service for fans of the beloved series.
5. Ratchet and Clank: All For One (Available on: PlayStation 3)
Ratchet and Clank: All For One is a change from the usual formula that the much-loved series is known for but it is good fun, especially with friends. It’s game that is more enjoyable in co-op but it can be played solo.
In this adventure Ratchet and Clank team up with the bumbling space hero Captain Qwark and their arch-enemy, Dr Nefarious who is a cranky robot. The dynamic between these characters is awesome. Ratchet and Clank are best friends so things are normal with them, Qwark gets along with Ratchet and Clank but is a bit of an idiot, a lovable idiot though. Then there’s Dr Nefarious, who is the enemy of Ratchet and Clank and pretty much the entire galaxy but this time around, he has to team up with those that he loathes so that he can carry on being a villain after the adventure. The dialogue between characters is quite entertaining.
As mentioned before, All For One is a game that can be played on your own or cooperatively. If you want to play the game in co-op, you can team up with three friends and you can choose which character you want to play as. I must say that this game is much more enjoyable with co-op than solo as the game is built around being a co-op adventure.
Longtime fans of the Ratchet and Clank series might not like the shift in gameplay but do give the game a go. It’s fun and if you have friends that are also fans of the series, then you can co-op the game as your favourite characters.
4. Blue Dragon (Available on: Xbox 360)
Blue Dragon is a JRPG developed by Mistwalker, a studio founded by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy. It’s a traditional JRPG with an explorable world and turn-based combat, so fans of old school JRPG’s should be pleased. One of Blue Dragon’s core mechanics are “shadows”. Each character has a shadow, each representing a creature like a Dragon, Phoenix and a Minotaur. Each shadow can be assigned to a class and as such they take on the abilities and attributes for the class. It’s a cool system and I could go on for a while about it but there are plenty of videos on YouTube that show it off.
The story focuses around Shu, Jiro and Kluke, a group of friends who set out to confront the villain Nene. On the adventure the group come across other people who will join them in their quest to stop the evil Nene. The story is pretty good and has some old-school vibes to it.
If you are wondering why the character design looks familiar, that’s because Blue Dragon features art done by Akira Toriyama who is known for his work on Dragon Quest and being the creator of Dragon Ball.
The game is three discs long which means you’ll be changing discs after certain points of the game. There’s something about changing discs when playing a game, it gives a sense of progression and accomplishment. Changing discs also feels nostalgic, bringing back fond memories of Final Fantasy VIII and Shenmue.
3. Stranglehold (Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC)
Stranglehold, developed by the now sadly defunct Midway, is a third-person shooter similar in style to Max Payne and is considered to be a sequel to the classic 1992 Hong Kong action movie, Hard Boiled. Both John Woo and Chow Yun-fat collaborated on this game. Woo was a producer for Stranglehold and Chow reprised his role from Hard Boiled, as Inspector Tequila.
As mentioned before, Stranglehold is similar to Max Payne as in you can dive and shoot and do slow-mo shooting. Shooting bad guys in slow-mo in Stranglehold is incredibly satisfying. The action in the game is similar to that in Hard Boiled, as Tequila dives and shoots and kills bad guys with unparalleled style.
The story isn’t anything to write home about but isn’t bad, it is your typical action movie affair but with a bit more emotion. The main star here is the gameplay, it is so smooth and incredibly fun. Do you want to shoot a sign down so it can land on an enemy’s head? You can do that in stranglehold. Do you want to dive on a dinner cart and shoot at bad guys whilst it is moving? You can do that in Stranglehold. Do you want to jump off a balcony and shoot bad guys in slow-mo? You can do that in Stranglehold. This game is an incredibly fun few hours and will leave you wanting more.
Stranglehold even came with multiplayer and whilst I only had a few matches, it seemed okay. However with developer Midway no longer existing, I think the servers for the multiplayer are down and if so, it’s a shame.
I would also like to add that if you haven’t seen the film, Hard Boiled, then go watch it. It is a classic and is one of the best movies I have ever seen.
2. Max Payne 3 (Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC)
It took several years for the sequel to Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne to be finally released but thankfully the wait was worth it, as Rockstar Games delivered a stylish third-person shooter with a gripping and violent story.
The story of Max Payne takes place many years after the second game, Max is hooked on booze and painkillers as they are the only thing that can kill the pain that he feels. After a rather violent and eventful night in Max’s hometown of New Jersey, Max takes a job as a private security contractor South America in the hope that he can leave his old life behind. Things are not what they seem however, as the sunny paradise of Sao Paulo soon turns chaotic and Max is thrown in to a world of violence once again.
The Max Payne series is known for its noir style story but Rockstar have changed that with the third entry in favour of a “redemption” style story. Some fans may not like the change in tone but the story is still compelling and is one worth your time.
The gameplay is similar to that found in the previous games but more refined. The gun play feels tighter, diving into cover is smooth and feels awesome to do. The series renowned mechanic Bullet Time returns, allowing players to shoot bad guys in slow motion resulting in some painful yet stylish kills.
Max Payne 3 is an absolute blast and is one of the most stylish third-person shooters out there.
1. El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Available on: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
I played the demo of El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron many, many years ago and was captivated by its art style. It was different to pretty much everything else I had played up to that point. El Shaddai’s art style is peculiar, wondrous and pleasing to the eye. I will stand by this until the day I die, El Shaddai is one of the most artistically fascinating pieces of media I have ever laid eyes upon.
It’s difficult to describe El Shaddai. It’s an action adventure, with hack and slash combat similar to that found in Devil May Cry yet it has 2D platforming sections and some puzzles. The game doesn’t feature a health bar as the armour that your character wears (holy armour) represents your health and as you take damage, you lose armour. The gameplay is just as fascinating as the game’s art style. The combat is fairly simple and easy to understand but there’s a level of depth to it that will please fans of hack and slash games.
There are three weapons in the game and whilst this might not sound like a lot, I can assure you that the depth of the combat makes up for it. Weapons deteriorate with each attack and is shown by the weapon getting darker. If the weapon is white it does more damage , if it’s darker it will do less damage. To heal weapons you can purify them with a single button press or you can steal a weapon of an enemy. Not only do you have health but in a way so do your weapons.
The story of El Shaddai follows the scribe Enoch, who has been tasked to find seven fallen angels in order to prevent a cataclysmic event that will destroy mankind. You are not alone in your quest as Lucifel, a guardian angel will assist you from time to time. A big surprise here is that Jason Isaacs, yes the same Jason Isaacs that plays Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, is the voice of Lucifel. El Shaddai’s story isn’t just told through cutscenes, as you make your way through a psychedelic landscape, a narrator will speak and drops bits of the story to you.
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron is niche title with one of the most alluring art styles I have ever seen in a game to date. It’s a shame that not that many people talk about it and I hope that changes as the game deserves all the attention in the world.
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