AJ’s Rapid Fire Game Reviews (Feb. 2022)

Far Cry 6

Photo courtesy of ubisoft.com
Photo courtesy of ubisoft.com

If you’ve played any mainline “Far Cry” game since “Far Cry 3,” then you’ve essentially played “Far Cry 6.” Since the third game, Ubisoft has stuck to the same basic formula for these games, and while there are changes here and there, it’s difficult to not see the copious similarities between each game. I personally wouldn’t say this is completely bad though.

The “Far Cry” formula is extremely fun and I love the sandboxes the series has provided. This newest entry provides the most changes to the formula since 3 though because it now has full weapon customization, different armor types, and most of all they don’t have Hurk for the first time since “Far Cry 3”.

That’s not to say there aren’t problems though.

The AI in this game is downright horrendous and is some of the dumbest in the series so far. Furthermore, there are only two difficulty options, easy and normal, which makes the game absurdly easy most of the time. I also think it’s important to mention the remarkable amount of accessibility options the game has.

Ubisoft pulled no stops in making this game available to play by the widest audience possible. In this process though, I think the game suffered a bit both in its gameplay and its narrative. The story is surprisingly good with charming and engaging characters for the first time since the third game. The protagonist, Dani, is the best this series has had so far and Giancarlo Esposito provides a great performance as the game’s antagonist, Anton Castillo.

Sadly though, the story seems almost unwilling to lean into most of the themes it presents. The game brings up numerous hot-button issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, slave labor, fascism, childhood abuse, mass murder, and more, but it never fully realizes these ideas and in the process comes off as shallow. The game even comes with a content warning when first playing it saying it covers these issues but it feels more like they were marking off a checklist rather than fully realizing these concepts.

The story and its characters are really good but it’s just a shame they didn’t try to push the themes at play further.

Score: 8/10

Demon’s Souls

Photo courtesy of godisageek.com
Photo courtesy of godisageek.com

“Demon’s Souls” was my first introduction to the Soulsborne genre, which is known for brutally hard games including “Dark Souls”, “Bloodborne”, and “Sekiro Shadows Die Twice”. I had played a bit of “Dark Souls” so it wasn’t exactly my “first” introduction but I still haven’t gotten through the tutorial level, the undead asylum.

Comparatively, “Demon’s Souls” is a lot more beginner-friendly because it’s a lot more linear compared to the more open-ended design of “Dark Souls”. Don’t get me wrong this game is still brutal and challenging but its level design felt just a little bit more approachable. Beyond that, this game is an immensely satisfying challenge.

It is difficult, yes, but not in a cheap or unfair way. Every hill or challenge you overcome comes with a huge sense of accomplishment and there are not many things more satisfying than finally overcoming this game and reaching the end credits. The lore is also very interesting and the world feels so detailed and storied. It’s not for everyone, but I for one loved the more open-ended storytelling of this game.

It’s also a visual marvel and demonstrates the true capabilities of the PS5. If games as beautiful as this are launch titles for the system, then I can’t wait to see how games will look later in this generation. Overall “Demon’s Souls is fantastic and a must-play for anyone with a PS5.

Score: 9/10

Guardians of the Galaxy

Photo courtesy of vg247.com
Photo courtesy of vg247.com

I didn’t have high expectations for “Guardians of the Galaxy” when it was revealed. It looked like it had the same crummy gameplay of the disastrous “Avengers” game and the story looked like a pale imitation of the movies.

Thankfully I was only half-right.

This game has a fantastic and heartfelt story that perfectly embodies the Guardians that I’ve grown to love since the 2014 movie. For me, this was the most important aspect to nail and they knocked it out of the park. In some ways, this game even surpasses the movies in terms of writing, especially when it comes to giving every guardian their fair shake in the story. No one feels sidelined and each member gets their own time to shine.

But in the final level (minor spoilers ahead), they slow down the climax to have two characters talk about grief and loss and coping with losing loved ones. It’s a beautiful scene and perfectly embodies the ethos of the Guardians, a band of broken and abused misfits who find solace in dealing with that trauma together and the game absolutely nailed this aspect.

Where the game falters is the gameplay and level design. The gameplay is stiff, clunky, weightless, and frankly outdated. The level design is also painfully linear and uninspired. For the most part, it just felt really phoned in and poorly thought out.

Also, the implementation of licensed and original music felt really poor. Where in the movies, the music served a specific and thematic purpose in the narrative, here it just feels like set dressing. It only appears in a few specific scenes and a poorly thought out gameplay mechanic that has you huddle up the Guardians mid-combat to motivate them. This is a good start for a video game franchise, but I would be lying if I didn’t say this game was carried by the fantastic narrative and performances.

Score: 7/10

NieR Replicant

Photo courtesy of pcgamer.com
Photo courtesy of pcgamer.com

“NieR Replicant” is a weird game. The gameplay is weird, the world is weird, the pacing is weird, and the story especially is weird.

The best way to describe this game is a mix between a remaster and a remake, which yields some mixed results. If I’m being honest this game should’ve had a head-to-toe remake because while this hybrid between a remaster and remake does make the game more palatable to modern audiences, it still suffers from antiquated and archaic game design that significantly hampers the enjoyment of this game.

This game has a ton of loading screens between different areas of the world, whereas the sequel, “NieR Automata,” has one seamless interconnected world.

Furthermore, the combat is mostly repetitive and easy. They did update the combat and animations to match more with 2017’s “NieR Automata” but it simply lacks the fluidity, grace, and challenge that made Automata’s combat so great. My biggest issue with the game though is how you have to play the same story three times in order to get the actual ending. The second playthrough reveals some important details that fill a lot of the gaps, but it’s hardly enough to justify playing the same exact levels over again. The third playthrough though is even more egregious because the only difference is a single new cutscene and that’s it, and this time you have to get every weapon in the game, further padding out an already long game. Thankfully the third ending is fantastic and almost made the hours of monotony worth it.

But to get the true ending you then have to play the beginning of the game over again for about five hours, and when I saw that, I was almost at my breaking point. Again though, the true and final ending is fantastic and serves as a perfect conclusion to both the excellent story of this game, but also to its sequel.

The problem simply is that it takes what feels like an eternity to get to that point and the content in between the first playthrough and the ending is just a chore to get through. The story and characters truly are the saving grace of this game and the final ending is one of the most powerful endings in a video game, but because of the sheer monotony of the game, I really can’t recommend it to anyone besides diehard fans of the original version of the game or its sequel. “NieR Automata” is a masterpiece in my opinion and I was really excited for this new version of the original “NieR” but the game is just antiquated and poorly paced even for 2010 standards.

Score: 5/10


Resident Evil Village

 Photo courtesy of xbox.com

Photo courtesy of xbox.com

“Resident Evil Village” was probably the most hyped-up single-player game of 2021. T

he gameplay looked like it improved on the already great gameplay of “Resident Evil 7” and the story atmosphere looked like it would take an interesting turn for the series. It also helps with how Lady Dimitrescu was at the center of the marketing.

Sadly, I found this game to be a little disappointing. I had high expectations coming from the fantastic remake of “Resident Evil 2” and the great “Resident Evil 7” but the game honestly just fell short of the mark and I frankly find it shocking that this game made it into game of the year conversations.

It’s not bad by any means, but it is nowhere near game of the year-worthy. The story is pretty bad, even by “Resident Evil” standards, and the game loses most of its charm and atmosphere after the second level.

Also, Ethan Winters is by far the worst mainline protagonist in the series. He is so uninteresting and his dialogue is horrible. What this series excels at is survival horror, and besides one level, this aspect seems to have been lost this time around. It technically looks creepy, but I felt none of the tension that was so prominently felt in “Resident Evil 7” and the “Resident Evil 2” remake. The combat is thankfully a little better than the previous game, as there is a lot more enemy variety and each new area sports new enemies that are interesting to fight. As I said, this game isn’t bad or even mediocre. It’s simply not up to the level of some of the greats of the series.

Score: 7/10