This was the game that put Suda Goichi on the map. Sort of. It didn't really catch on and, to be fair, maybe it shouldn't have. The gameplay itself is borderline dull, having you move through environments on rails, stopping every so often to take out repetitive enemies who you couldn't see until you specifically looked for them. The puzzle solving was simplistic, but the plot was anything but. What exactly are Harlan Smith's seven personalities? Is that a nickname for a team of assassins? An actual manifestation of MPD? How is it they can be revived from their heads? Which personality, if any, is the core? The story itself might be beyond explanation, the complete opposite of the mostly straightforward (and intentionally cliché) No More Heroes. Killer 7 straddled action, horror, and rail shooters clumsily, but still managed to intrigue and entertain. In the end, that entertainment is what matters.
Technically, Metro 2033 is a first-person shooter. You play it from first-person perspective and you shoot stuff. With bullets. There are no surprises there. The graphics are nice, particularly with regard to lighting effects, and the world it presents is terrifying, entrancing, and nostalgic all at once. Even if you have no Russian ancestry and have never been there in person, seeing the ruins of Moscow and hearing the NPCs speak of it with such familiarity and longing still tends to pull at the heartstrings. The game is a linear adventure, moving you from level to level, but the combat is secondary to surviving the other travails of Artyom's journey. Does a lack of combat get boring? Not when a world is as immersive as this. There's little HUD to speak of (even less if you play in Ranger mode), and the little touches such as the hand-pumped flashlight battery and pneumatic weapons, checking the time on one's air filter by glancing at one's watch, and seeing the shells expelled from the Bastard's exposed clip all draw you in, and the story itself keeps you there.
Psychic Force 2012 let you fight people in the sky. At the beginning of a match, your psychics would enclose themselves in a floating box. This formed both a boundary and a weapon, allowing players to bash each other into it for extra damage or through it with a sufficiently powerful finishing blast. And that's the thing about Psychic Force 2012: The basic controls were very simple. There was a light attack and a heavy attack. At close range, they were melee strikes. Fly out a bit (you could move freely through the arena on the x- and y-axes) and these same buttons would produce weak or strong projectiles of some kind. Each character played drastically differently, some with attacks that could be arced, others with beams that could change direction dramatically after being fired. One even set traps. All characters, though, had an incredible range of movement and defensive options. Dashing, homing, a basic guard, a meter-eating technique that negated all attacks while it was active, and the pulse, which could throw enemies away from you at the cost of more precious meter. Psychic Force 2012 was technical, satisfying, and fast, but it always felt somehow intuitive.
Resonance of Fate's combat system is everything Final Fantasy XIII's wanted to be. It's both dynamic and tactical, with players forced to not only consider positioning and strategy, but also account for the enemies, who are able to queue up their own actions as long as one of your players is in motion on the field. The story is told in small snippets during and between major missions, but the world itself is entertaining on its own. Clockwork themes are everywhere and high-flying acrobatic and cinematic gunplay rule the combat. In many ways, Resonance of Fate feels like a puzzle game. Battles are often winnable in only a few short moves (often in one turn), if one targets the correct enemy with the correct attacks and the game isn't stingy about giving you the sort of feedback you need to know ahead of time what will and won't work. Add to this a very unique, use-based leveling system and Resonance of Fate becomes one of my favorite JRPGs that too few people have played.
I feel like I'm committing a crime by admitting this, but I was in a fraternity in college. A lot of the brothers were kind of geeky, though, so I fit in pretty well and even lived in the house for a while. During my tenure as a resident, I purchased this little game from Clover, released on the heels of the more heavily advertised Okami. God Hand ended up taking my fraternity by storm, brothers camping out in my room to try out one of the most challenging, frustrating, downright unforgiving action games I have ever played. God Hand will kick your ass. In fact, the better you're playing, the harder it will try to do exactly that, as enemies literally level up as you go, dishing out damage without retaliation. The titular God Hand allows protagonist Gene to dish out "roulette" moves. These often take the form of humorous and powerful blows, such as a baseball bat composed of energy, a blow that launches foes to the moon and back or, more classically, the "ball buster," which is exactly what its name implies. Contextual commands in combat range from a suplex to, against certain female enemies, rapid-fire spanking. Gene himself has a completely malleable move list, allowing every attack, from his basic combo to his various directional commands, to be replaced with whatever attacks the player has earned. The story is completely nonsensical, the graphics are subpar, and Gene controls like a tank when he isn't actively engaged in combat, but with some great humor (including the best credits song of any game ever) and addictive, challenging combat, God Hand is an absolute blast.
By Shelby Reiches
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*