Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game (Xbox 360, PS3)

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Scott-Pilgrim-The-Game

So, disclaimer, I am a complete Scott Pilgrim vs. the World fan. I’ve seen the movie, own all the books, and am currently recollecting the books printed in color. And now I can add beating Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game to my Bryan Lee O’Malley fan status. The past week I sat down with a couple friends for a few nights and conquered all of Ramona’s evil ex’s.

If you’re not familiar with the story of Scott Pilgrim it goes like this: Scott Pilgrim is a 23 year old living in Toronto. He is unemployed and plays in a band called “Sex Bob-omb” with his friends Steven Stills and Kim Pine. Scott lives with a gay roommate, Wallace, and Scott is totally his bitch forever. One day Scott runs into this girl Ramona Flowers, they hit off, Scott has to defeat her seven evil ex’s if they are to date. Read the books or watch the movie, they’re both worth it.

Anyway, with that established, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game is one of those classic beat-em-up fighters a la the Simpsons game or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game you used to find in arcades. You can choose to play as either Stephen, Kim, Scott, or Ramona in your fight against the evil ex’s and their underlings. There is a leveling system, so while at first you only start out with a punch and a kick, you quickly start obtain combos and cool tricks like eagle dives and throws. The gameplay is pretty smooth, a bunch of guys pop on your screen and you have to defeat them all to progress through the level; there are a myriad of different enemies so combat never really gets boring, nor does it get too easy, with the game consistently proving a challenge. (at least, for me. But I also found out that I kind of suck at beat-em-ups while playing this game…so take that as you will.)

The seven evil-ex's.

The seven evil-ex’s.

Seeing as this is a beat-em-up, there are of course boss fights. In this case the bosses are the seven evil ex’s. Each boss fight has it’s own charm or twist to it, such as Matthew Patel having aid from his hipster chicks or the Katayanagi twins giant robot. The boss fights can be pretty tough, some of them might require multiple attempts or grinding, because once you lose to the boss, you have to redo the entire level again! The tactics and strategies to face each boss are different, which helps keep things fresh, and the final boss is quite an arduous process, one that makes you feel like you really accomplished something after your beat him. As a bonus, after you beat Gideon, you get to experience a different ending depending on which character the first player is. This means there are four different endings to the game, and even more if you have the DLC!

There are a lot of references to the comic and older video games in the game, which only serves as more reasons to love this game. Throughout the levels you will run into Lisa, Wallace, Julie, Young Neil  and many others, which is a delight for those who are fans of the comics books. For video game fans, there are references to Mario, Sonic, Zelda, Kirby, Megaman, Street Fighter, and a plethora of other old school games that only serve to show how Scott Pilgrim is a love letter to the video games culture of old.

scott pilgrim multiplayer

The multiplayer aspect of the game is done very well, in fact I could not imagine playing this game by myself. Scott Pilgrim is a game created to be played with others, with four controllers, in front of one TV screen. I constantly found myself thanking friends for reviving me or  tormenting them by throwing them around as a weapon. That’s right, you can throw your friends around and even pick them up to use to bash opponents, much to your friends’ ire. Playing Scott Pilgrim can be a test of friendship, and only the closest of friends will manage to play through the entire game without once getting mad at one another.

Music is also an important aspect of Scott Pilgrim, it being about a band and all, and the game does not fail to represent that aspect of the story. The music is done by Anamanaguchi, an 8-bit chiptune band who excels at what they do, seriously, check out their album called Dawn Metropolis. The music is high energy, the 8-bit music fits the 16-bit style of the game, and it makes the combat feel all the more epic and enthralling. This game would not be complete without its soundtrack, its an integral part of the Scott Pilgrim audience and I encourage you not to tune it out.

I can only find one real thing lacking about this game, and that is the level cap. The level cap for this game is pretty low, 16. At first I found it odd that there be a leveling system in a beat-em-up, but I guess it makes sense with the whole “retro” feel Scott Pilgrim is aiming for. However, once reaching the max level the game kind of loses its fun as enemies go down very easily and there seems to be no real challenge left in the game. If the enemies leveled up dynamically alongside you I feel like it would have added some replayability aspect to it, but as it stands, once you experience all the endings, which I imagine only hardcore fans will do, you won’t really find yourself coming back to this game.

Overall, Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game is a pretty great beat-em-up and probably one of the best available on Xbox 360 and PS3. It is great for a pick-up and play game, it has local multiplayer support which makes it great to play at parties or just during an afternoon with some friends, and it is filled to the brim with references both to and outside the Scott Pilgrim universe. And Scott Pilgrim fan will love this game, and even if you’re not one, you might as well give it a playthrough as the game accurately conveys the comic books’ charm and quirkiness. For an arcade game, this is a worthy purchase, and certainly worth your 10 dollars or 1600 Microsoft points.

Note: This game was reviewed without the Knives Chau DLC or the Wallace Wells DLC (which includes online multiplayer)

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DISHONORED (Xbox 360, PC, PS3)

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So just yesterday I beat Dishonored, one of the best new IPs to come out of 2012 and a game very similar to Thief and other stealth-assassination games. Backstory: You are Corvo, the bodyguard to the Empress who was sent on a mission to find a cure for the plague that terrorizes your home city of Dunwall. You return empty handed, and as you are discussing your results with the Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, she is assassinated and you take the blame. It is up to you to get revenge upon the men who framed you and to put Emily, the rightful heir, on the throne.

When I first fired up the game, I instantly felt myself drawn into the world of Dunwall and felt the plight of citizens facing the plague. The very first optional mission presented to the player in the game is to play hide-and-seek with Emily, the Empress’s daughter. This is a great minigame as it teaches the player to value stealth as a key tactic in the game and allows you to connect with an important character in the story. I instantly fell for Emily as a daughter/child figure and felt for this poor girl who lost her mother.

Dishonored does a great job of pacing throughout the game, starting off with its tutorial mission that does not feel like a tutorial at all but rather a dashing escape from prison. At first I was a bit frustrated with the controls of the game as there was only one control option that mapped sprinting to a button rather than pushing down an analogue stick, but I’ll chock that up to one of the pains of console gaming. The missions are very thorough, each one providing a multitude of paths and methods to complete them and ultimately take care of our target. I could either take possession of a rat and slip through a small grate to get past the guards, or I could simply jump from rooftop to rooftop.

How can you not love that adorable face?

How can you not love that adorable face?

One memorable mission was “Lady Boyle’s Last Party”, in which Corvo has to assassinate Lady Boyle who is hosting a party. The issue is, there are three Lady Boyle’s and there are hosting a masquerade ball. Because Corvo always wears a mask you are able to enter easily enough, but finding the right Lady Boyle proves entertaining. In my playthrough I schmoozed with the elites at the party gaining information on which Lady Boyle was wearing what color and eventually found her. I offered to go “upstairs” with her and promptly choked her. (No, it wasn’t consensual) I then gave her to a nice gentleman on a boat who loved her and no blood would be shed.

The reason there exist so many tactics in Dishonored is due to the various abilities available to the player. In the game there exist six powers: Blink, Possession, Dark Vision, Devouring Swarm, Bend Time, and Wind Blast. Blink is essentially short teleportation, Possession allows you to control animal and, if powered up, people.  Dark Visions lets you see through walls and cones of vision. Devouring Rats summons a horde of rats to devour your enemies. Bend Time lets you slow down, and even stop, time, and Wind Blast is pretty self-explanatory. (shoot wind out of your hands)

Because I was attempting to take the “good” or non-lethal route, my playthrough mostly consisted of Blinking around, sneaking past guards using Dark Vision, and occasionally Possessing a rat to get into a hard to reach room. While Dishonored gives you many weapons such as a sword, crossbows, grenades, and mines, there were only two weapons available to my playthrough: sleep darts and chocking from behind. The worst part is, you can upgrade the amount of darts your crossbow can hold but it doesn’t increase the amount of sleep darts you can hold! I don’t know if that was a bug or a design decision  but it certainly makes the low chaos ending harder to achieve. However, that makes it all he more satisfying when you complete the game and I feel that having only those two options did not make the game that more difficult. (I was playing on Hard if you’re interested)

The game’s AI was pretty satisfying, with them appropriately responding to collapsed allies or noises. Dogs especially were annoying, as they were not worth using a sleep dart on but unfortunately you can’t choke out a dog. (Massive oversight by the developers, I could totally choke out a dog.) All of the characters present int he game felt very human and were well written, I could see compassion, greed, nobility, and even a bit of perversion in the characters. *cough Piero cough* The game even introduces religion in the form of “The Outsider”, a supernatural being who can invade your dreams and grant superpowers to those he deems worthy. Books and pamphlets throughout the game also provide a rich canon with many ideas and options open for a sequel.

Overall, I was quite satisfied with Dishonored. The gameplay and missions were all well done and thoughout, the story is engrossing and involved, and the characters are deep and relatable. MY only main gripe would be the disappointing ending, which was not disappointing because it was “bad” per say, merely that it was very abrupt and did not seem to meet the standards that had been placed on the story up to that point. However, I still look forward to another game set in the universe of Dunwall because games like Dishonored as hard to come-by these days. A truly great IP with unique gameplay that I hope to see more of in the future.