Strike Suit ZERO Review

SSZ Header

After having your space-license of space-fighter pilot revoked you attempt to rejoin the space-air-force. During your space-test a space dogfight breaks out. And it’s only the space-beginning.

The first couple of missions put you in control of a simple fighter to allow you to get a firm grip on the reigns of the space-jet, which is not at all complicated as the game is far more like an action flying game, rather than a simulator.

The controls are easy to grasp, but they are sometimes a bit out of whack – particularly the aim and subsequently the course-setting. It appears that sensitivity rises exponentially as you get further away from a small area in the middle of the screen where the aim is fine, but it is not a major problem as you never have to navigate any closed spaces and going off too much to one side can be quickly and harmlessly corrected within a split second. It is a very different story in the Strike Suit mode, though. Once in strike suit mode, deviating from a circle of about 5 cm radius in the middle of the screen will send your aim flying off and on top of the constant chaos of dozens of other ships and their respective missiles and bullets it can be very disorienting indeed. Thankfully in strike suit mode there is a dedicated lock-on button that swiftly changes from enemy to enemy as you send them to their peril at about 10 times the speed of a normal dogfight, due to the immensely increased firepower of the mech.

The missions are largely repetitive and usually involve some or all of these 3 things: take down a bunch of enemy fighters, shoot down the defenses of an enemy frigate or defend a friendly ship from getting destroyed. While it sounds bland and tiresome it rarely is, as the combat mechanics completely overshadow the shortcomings of mission structures. The combat is fast, tactical and truly empowering. You are usually immensely outnumbered, but due to your Strike Suit capabilities, never outgunned.

Shootin' Barrels

Taking on dozens of enemies while conducting evasive maneuvers to escape from enemy plasma and sending out last-second EMP surges to disorient locked-on missiles is only a third of the battle, the main focus is the strike suit. Very few things are as enjoyable as flying into the heart of the enemy swarm, transforming within a second and raining down heavy machine gun fire and a seemingly infinite rain of missiles upon the foes, destroying a dozen ships within a span of 15 seconds and quickly turning back into pursuit mode and boosting out of there, knowing that these 15 seconds were as crucial and devastating as a handful of minutes preceding that. The game excels at making the player feel critical to the battle and truly irreplaceable, which is one of the reasons we turn to games – to be the one, the chosen, somebody truly awesome.

Strike Suit

Unfortunately even the most fun gameplay cannot compensate for repeating half an hour of the game due to poor and minimalistic checkpoint placement. As with games in general, situations get a lot harder and more bullet-infested in the imminence of the next checkpoint, but it is infuriating when the enemy frigate has but a slither of health left and that is the moment when enemies finally decide to coordinate and send four missiles your way, reducing the ship to a wreck in less than a second.

The story is vastly secondary and something I barely paid attention to because of the lack of strong characters, poor dialogue and preoccupation with gameplay. Whether every game should have a strong narrative is arguable, and I am certainly on the side that does not believe that it is crucial. Some games do not need an engaging story to drive the player forward if the sole gameplay is capable of doing so on its own, and this is a shining example.

There is no multiplayer, which is most likely a good thing. Usually I disagree with the hatred towards “tacked-on” MP, because the budget would not have been allocated to the developer of the singleplayer anyway. Games that do have seemingly pointless MP usually have it developed by a completely different studio and is made to extend the shelf life of the product, so, in fact, the publisher would not have given that money to the developer of the SP as the MP is insurance for the publisher that the game will keep bringing in money over a period of time. This is because people would be more reluctant to trade it in quickly and play the MP upon completing the single player, thus decreasing amount of games traded in, which would mean a decrease in cheaper used copies, which only the retailers profit from. With less used copies people would be more likely to buy new ones, bringing in more profit to the publisher. In this case, however, it was developed by an independent studio, funded by Kickstarter money, no less, so all the budget could have been used on the SP and if there was MP, it would certainly reflect on the quality of SP. Most air-combat games tend to have rather boring MP, and without it being Gundamized with swords and all, I don’t see it being very fun and it would simply be a tacked-on and useless mode in my eyes.

Aesthetically the game is very pleasing as the backdrops are without exception beautiful images of outer space. That coupled in with neon blue and red streaks of fighter jets as they course through the battlefield and one of the best glare effects in all current videogames makes for a vibrant and interesting look.

The music is very ambient and calming which provides a pleasing break from the chaotic battles, but does nothing for the fights themselves. Personally, I think J-pop or power-metal would have been perfect for battle music, but that may be because of my love for Gundam and all Japanese mech-oriented anything. Speaking of Gundam… no matter, how impossible this is, but if the game was re-skinned with Gundam mechs and given a Gundam-like story (+ sword StrikeSuit-on-StrikeSuit battles would not be too shabby) all the shortcomings of the game would have been inexistent.

Overall it is unarguably enjoyable and fun, and while poor mission structure, storytelling and harsh checkpoints are to its detriment, they are certainly overshadowed by breathtaking and empowering combat and beautiful visuals.

7/10

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Splinter Cell: Double Agent Review

Boring things first: this is the 4th main entry in the Splinter Cell series, the first in the current generation of consoles and the last in the original format of SC, the “Essentials” PSP game excluded, because, let’s not sully the name of this better-than-just-good series with that atrocity.

Pros:

  • This game definitely does add a lot more fluidity to Splinter Cell as a series in both the action and looks. The character model does seem a bit more realistic in the way it moves and behaves in general which is just nice to see and the environmental interactions look more realistic.
  • There are quite a few additions in terms of environmental usage, the most vivid one in my memory is knocking on ice while under water to attract the attention of guards to that place so that you could break the ice as they stand atop it, sending them down into the water and to finish off the job with a satisfying single stab which sends them sinking down to the ocean floor, which even though is present in very few missions was rather enjoyable just because it broke away from the general conformity of the game. Not to mention that the underwater parts of missions are very bearable, so it does deserve some commendation for that.

Cons:

  • Boring storyline which follows Clancy’s regiment of betrayal and bullshit plot twists.
  • 4 LEVELS ON THE SAME FUCKNG MAP WHERE THE MOST FREQUENTLY PERFORMED ACTION IS JUST TURNING OFF LIGHTS BECAUSE YOU CAN’T KILL OR EVEN KNOCK ANYONE OUT. BULL FUCKING SHIT.
  • The voice acting is rather laughable, which actually enhanced the game for me because it gave me a reason to laugh rather than hate the hell out of it. Some voice actors pull on ridiculous accents and others just sound as enthused as a rock.
  • The in-game graphics cut-scenes are some of the worst things that you will ever see: at least on the PC, perhaps it is different on consoles. Not only is the movement completely unsynchronized with the audio but the animations are clank as hell IF THEY EVEN BOTHER TO HAPPEN.

Proper review-thing:

Sam Fisher joins the terrorist cell JBA (after his daughter IS RAN OVER BY SOME CRIMINAL GUY AND HE GOES ALL-OUT EMO! OH MY GOD SPOILERS!) to prevent something something while still working for the CIA, which right away makes sense of the game’s title. The story is something I could not care for although I generally have a pretty major bone.rar for stories in games; the Splinter Cell series are usually not the case because I find the plot twists and the hyper-serious approach outright laughable, which I guess makes it a pretty good B-movie type deal.While not liking the story it is very easy to make fun of it, so thank you for that Ubisoft even though this entertainment is not intentional.

The game does take you to multiple different locations just like every Splinter Cell and most of them are very enjoyable, especially the snowy maps, ether because they are just made a lot better than others as they aren’t the usual corridor crawling crap that we get most of the time in games nowadays and actually have some ingenuity and interesting ideas or just because I am a huge Metal Gear fan and stealth+snow=happiness. But the problem and essentially the reason I hated this game lies within the JBA HQ map or at least the amount of time that we are made to spend here. Over a third of the game is situated in this boring-ass map with boring-ass side quests, a time limit and for the most part inability to kill or knock anyone out which turns this into an absolutely no-fun endeavor as well as a waste of time. This is one of the most lazy things a game like this could do because instead of giving many different mission on different maps we’re made to suffer through sneaking around, no, sorry, MOSTLY WALKING AROUND THE COMPLEX BECAUSE YOU’RE ONE OF THE TERRORISTS, SO YOU CAN JUST CALMLY WALK IN MOST AREAS. And the side quests mostly consist of finding some documents or installing a hacking device of some sort or a dumb bomb-making minigame. Lazy-ass developers, I damn you!

On the other hand when the game does throw you into a good map it does so pretty well, at least, if not funominally. The stand-out map for me was the one with the terrorist camp and ship in the North Sea because at first you were free to swim and walk around the icy wilderness amongst the icebergs and stuff, which is indubitably fun and different and then sneak around the huge ship – both on top and below the deck, which had some interesting areas and set pieces. Also breaking the ice under some poor sucker is always awesome and I never quite got tired of it.

The big new thing in this game is the “trust” system. Sam has a trust gauge for the NSA and the JBA where optional objectives add trust points and ignoring a primary objective takes trust points away. While the optional objectives are generally pretty bland and boring sometimes a no kills or no alerts objective pops up which is always super fun to carry out, not to mention that it forces you to play the game the way it is actually meant to be played. As one could have guessed that due to there being a trust meter for both factions there will be binary choices – one that satisfies the JBA and one that satisfies the NSA. These choices add trust to one faction and subtract an equal amount from the other. Of course when the trust depletes the mission fails, which I never found to be the case as it’s rather easy to uphold the trust as long as you don’t go pants-on-head retarded, so it’s fairly easy to just chose whatever you want to do depending on what you want, not having to strategize depending on the trust level of ether of the factions.

The AI is not revolutionary in any way, but is not idiotic either. For the most part… Whistling a guard to your location is still the easiest way to make sure the kill will be easy and quick, and getting rid of enemies was never a problem, even on hard difficulty, as long as even a minimal amount of planning is performed.

Overall the game is fine. I would never go as far as to say that it is on par with the original trilogy, but comparing it would be unfair, as a game should be judged by itself, not whether it lives up to the legacy of its predicesors. I did certainly hate the completely-devoid-of-fun JBA HQ sections, but the rest of the game did a fair job for making up for that shitcake.

It is definitely worth one’s time if they’re a dedicated SC fan and want to have all games under their belt or at least enjoy stealth games in general, while it won’t likely strike any chord for people outside those groups. Meh, fine game. Play it. Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you.

P.S:
My first review in all its mediocrity. Sankyu for reading.

Tea Critic- Ahmad Earl Grey vs Lipton London Earl Grey Black Tea

As any tea gourmet knows earl grey is pretty much the Batman of teas. It’s dark, punchy, gritty unless given a bit sugar and everyone can say it’s their favorite without getting any negative feedback apart from them being called out as the boring boring-person they are.
First off, I’d like to say I do love Batman, and after my childhood hero Spiderman he is the next in line of favorites, but earl grey always have been, is, and always will be the number one tea for me, unless some other flavor gets a way better movie trilogy.

Back to the point now, earl grey has unlimited potential. Well, within its own constraints, but you know. Never mind, it’s not unlimited, but it’s pretty impressive. It can satisfy any tea-necessity, be it plain and strong or sweet and calming, or in fact anything in between. Depending on how it is applied it can deliver very different sensations, and for this reason it is the perfect tea.

But if it is perfect, what’s the difference between the different types and brands of tea? Two or more things can’t be different but perfect, you say. Well shut up and listen, you’re not an expert. And I’m a misguidedly self-proclaimed one, but still better than you. First, let us get to the meaning of perfect -something without fault. So this would apply to ether variation of earl grey. All good in this department, let us move on.

I have narrowed down the best types to two: Ahmad Tea – Earl Grey and Lipton – London Earl Grey Black Tea Super HD Remix GX. Ahmad is the top notch of what earl gray stands for – plain taste and versatility, while the best word to describe the Lipton version atop what I have said about the first one is “zesty”. There aren’t many differences between them. None that you would understand, anyway, apart from one distinct feature: IT HAS TINY PIECES OF DRIED LEMON.

I know it sounds crazy, but I checked it with Science, and it all checks out, it is actually feasible. It delivers a slight tingle to the flavor, without destroying the taste like the addition of ordinary lemon juice would do due to the enzymes it contains that destroy the tea-taste-things within the mixture. With this it takes a step just outside the line of conformity of earl grey tea, but its real life equivalent rebelliousness would be somebody constructing intentionally grammatically or logistically incorrect sentences while screaming FUCK THE POLICE with their inner voice, because, well, are we damn barbarians to scream such rude things?

So to sum up I would like to say that the Ahmad Earl Grey tea definitely does what is sets out to do in its respective field, but for those who want just a bit more out of their boring routine London Earl Grey Black Tea can deliver that tiny bit more to make them feel crazy like an office worker undoing his top button and letting his tie down 1cm.. But seriously – dried up lemons… also let’s just erase the Spiderman trilogy from our collective mind.