Master Reboot

December 23, 2013

Review By: Mr. Roboto

Release Date: October 29, 2013

Developed & Published by: Wales Interactive

Platforms: PC, Macintosh, Steam, Desura, iPhone/iPod, Android, PlayStation 3

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Moderate

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Moderate

Rating: 6 out of 10

Master Reboot - Graveyard

Death is not the end of life anymore. It’s only the beginning…

Overview: The fighting in Remember Me no longer rages me, though the lack of exploration is still a bit of a pill. Fortunately, Master Rebot more than compensates. Actually, Master Rebot not only invites exploration, it requires it, as exploration is necessary not only to solve the puzzles you will encounter but to solve an even bigger mystery going on in the virtual afterlife. In order to do that, you will need to cross that ultimate barrier… between life and death.

 

The Story: The Mysteri Corporation is proud to announce the Soul Cloud, a virtual repository where the memories of the deceased can be stored and accessed by loved ones who want to “visit” the dearly departed. Each person uploaded to the Cloud will live in a “Soul Village” where they can accesses their memories. The Soul Village consists of buildings representing important memories in one’s life.

Master Reboot - Servers

Our secure severs include “Seren”, the resident security program that keeps unauthorized intruders out of the Cloud.

You’ve just arrived in the Soul Cloud, dropped on some deserted island surrounded by water (and some type of energy barrier or firewall). You don’t remember how you got here or why. Now you are just looking for a way off the island, and maybe some clue to the “how” and “why”.

 

Getting into your head.

Master Reboot - Hospital

Does this hospital have a mental ward? You might need one while exploring.

While you explore your memories you will need to solve some puzzles in order to leave and get back to your Soul Village. These puzzles are not too taxing on your brain, ranging from basic exploration to deciphering codes to trying to avoid some nastiness in your path.

You might also find blue ducks along the way. (Seems to be a lot of duck-related stuff happening lately.) These ducks are clues to the mystery you are trying to solve. The clues are mostly visual like documents or a picture of you and you life. These clues are available in a “scrapbook” found back in the Soul Village when you successfully complete a memory. When you do complete a memory, a short cartoon animation plays that shows what the specific memory is, possibly including the clues you find.

Like I said, the puzzles shouldn’t be too hard to solve, unless you let the atmosphere get to you. Lots of darkness, shadows, and moonlight abound. Combined with some haze/fog effects, the general look of the scenes, and other general spookiness, and you have a recipe for scariness that gives Scooby-Doo nighmares.

Master Reboot - BOO!

BOO!

As far as action goes, there really isn’t much to find. There are some scenes where you will be chased or have to race for you life. But this game is more for exploration and puzzle-solving… maybe some creepiness if you like that sort of thing.

 

Conclusion: Comparing Master Reboot to Remember Me is like comparing apples to bananas. Master Reboot is definitely not for button-mashers, or the easily frightened. It’s a mental challenge that will scare you. As 80’s band Dangerous Toys once sang, “Hey man, I think I like being scared and I will you all were there.” Maybe not the most cyberpunk, but it does its job quite well.

Master Reboot - The Core

Looks like we found a bitch… uh, GLITCH in the system.

Remember Me

November 24, 2013

Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

Released Date:June 3, 2013

Developed by: DONTNOD Entertainment

Published by: Capcom

Platforms: Windows, XBox 360, Playstation 3

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Rating (Revised): 4 out of 10

Nilin (Remember Me)

Nilin needs some help exploring Neo-Paris to find some lost memories.

Note: This is a rewrite of the original article posed on Novemer 24. Explanation in the last paragraph.

Overview: I had some high hopes for Remember Me, Capcom’s memory-stealing, ass-kicking, knuckle-duster. Now I’m wondering if I want to purge this game from my databanks. Somehow, they managed to take a bleeding edge cyberpunk idea, add some excellent visuals to hook you, and implement what can only be described as some bad ideas that bring down much of what’s good about this game.

But let’s try to highlight better aspects of Remember Me, mainly the story and visuals:

 

The Story: In Paris (now Neo-Paris) 2084, the Memorize corporation has risen to dominance thanks to its Sensation Engine (Sensen) brain implant that allows people to share memories as part of a futuristic social network. Sensen can also be used to alter or even delete memories, affecting how people act. This alteration capability has not gone unnoticed by the “Errorist” movement, who sees this ability as a form of mind control (figuratively and literally) and seek to end Memorize’s operations.

Nilin is a “memory-hunter”, someone who can steal and alter (”remix”) memories. She was caught by Memorize’s S.A.B.R.E. Force, as part of their campaign to end the errorist movement, and taken to La Bastille to have her memories removed. But Edge, the errorist leader, helps her escape and is now trying to help her recover her memories before a final assault to take down Memorize.

 

What has been seen… The visuals of Remember Me is some sweet eye-candy. The differences between Slum 404 and sewers, and Saint-Michel district and Memorize’s headquarters are certainly stark enough in contrast. The slum areas certainly look like DIY constructs.

Robotic Red Light District

Some of the robots you’ll encounter won’t be this sexy, or working,… or friendly.

It certainly all looks inviting enough to explore. But that’s where one of the game’s problems come in: Limited exploration. All too often, the path you have to walk is linear with only a few branch areas where some upgrade “patches” might be hidden (in that case, a “clue” presents itself to show where the patches are). You will encounter some obstacles, so Nilin becomes a sort of “Spider babe” who is able to climb up and slide down ladders and pipes, shimmy across ledges a-la Ninja Warrior “Cliffhanger”, and even jump across bottomless pits between ledges. Arrows show the way to go, and if necessary and “aug-eye” clue can be called upon to show you the way. Helpful, but it’s no fun for more adventurous explorers.

View of the Leaking Brain

Take your time walking the streets and admire the “view”.

As a memory hunter, Nilin has the ability to “remix” memories. This ability can have a dramatic effect on your target like turning a vicious enemy into an ally… IF it’s done right.

It’s in the remix

Remixing memories is quite fun, seeing the possible outcomes. Too bad you’ll only get three four chances to do remixes.

 

Control out of control. For those of you expecting a first person shooter, let me break the news to you: This isn’t a shooter, and it’s not first-person. Remember Me is third-person, from-behind, like Tomb Raider. And it’s a beat-em-up fighting game (think “Double Dragon”). I tend to prefer first-person games, but third-person can work for me… IF things work out right. Unfortunately, like many third-person games, the “camera” used tend to cause problems itself. Clipping, obstructions, and inability to fully control the camera (particularly when hanging off ledges) can make for some serious frustration, especially during the fights.

Speaking of fights, that’s where I had some serious problems. To start, you use the game’s “Combo Lab” to construct your own combo of punch-and-kick “pressens” that can do extra damage, heal yourself, or allow you to use special “Super Pressens” (S-Prssens) sooner and more often. Think carefully when making your combos as the pressens only do their magic if you do the combos correctly, otherwise your fighting skills become nothing more than a pointless exercise in button mashing. Another problem is that the combos are “predetermined,” meaning that the pattern of punches and kicks are already decided for you. You just decide what pressen those attacks are.

As for the fighting itself, it’s all about rhythm as ekkko points out in the comments. I was finally able to get past a fight with mourner leapers thanks to ekkko’s tip, though I did have to die another half-dozen times more before I saw an attack pattern being used, then it was the mourner leaper’s turn to get their asses handed to them. After that, it was smooth sailing through the end, except for a couple of “puzzles” to solve near the end. No more watching Nilin die during fights.

Fight scene

Remember: Fighting is all about rhythm, like dancing, only with an occasional evasive two-step to avoid creeps who want to “cut in.”

 

Conclusion: Remember Me had the potential to be a great cyberpunk game, possibly ten stars. It had a story line with some twists to make you want to stay until the end. It had the visuals to make the story come alive. But lack of exploration, a wonky camera, and limited combo customization should make you reconsider whether you want Remember Me to take up memory space on your systems.

NOTE: I originally blogged RM while in a state of rage due to an inability to get past a point late in the game. Do NOT try that at home! After a break and ekkko’s hint (and a few more deaths before discovering a pattern), I did make it past and finish easily. With calmer headspace prevailing, I saw fit to revise RM’s rating from 2 to 4 stars. The issues of the camera, premade combos, and no exploration still hold the game back though.

Cholo

October 25, 2010

Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 1986, 2005

Developed by: Solid Image Ltd (Glyn Williams, Joey Headen)

Released by: Firebird, Ovine by Design

Platforms: Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Windows

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Rating: 8 out of 10


cholo2.jpg

What do I consider a “good hack” to be? Well, you see that robot? A good hack would be if I can use that robot to get a beer, deliver some pizzas… and free humanity from this bunker.

Overview: Much like Paradroid from our last review, Cholo is another remake from indie game makers Ovine by Design. Originally made for 8-bit systems of the mid-80’s, the new Cholo improves upon the bare-wire-frame graphics for something more Tron-like.

cholo1.gif

The story carries over from the original, but the new version changes the interface for an FPS feel of looking out a robot’s eye(s) and adds more “rampaks” (upgrades and clues) to the gameplay. Think of it as Paradroid done first-person.

 

The Story: The city of Cholo was an important asset to allied forces for it’s robotics works. When a nuclear war broke out, Cholo was spared from a direct hit, but radiation made living on the surface impossible, not only for biological reasons but for causing the many robots to go berzerk (obligatory retro game reference) and attack any human they encounter. An underground bunker was built, the remaining people were move inside, and sealed from the robots and radiation. To keep the people occupied, a robot game called RAT was created. You have mastered RAT and have been selected by Cholo’s computer to use those skills to free humanity from the bunker.

To free humanity, you must use the rat-droid to hack into other robots and use their weapons and abilities to find a way to open the pyramid seal and free humanity.

 

Easy, right? If it really was meant to be easy, it probably wouldn’t be worth playing. Like most any puzzle, a bit of difficulty is expected to make solving all the more satisfying. For Cholo, that puzzle is made all the more difficult because of the buildings; They all look similar outside, making identifying individual dwellings harder. HINT: There’s a map of Cholo that you can print out so you can mark-off buildings you have been inside of. Ovine also gives you a quick-start on how to “capture” your first robot (Igor, the hacker droid). From there, you’re on your own.

 

A cast of characters. To succeed, you will need to know what robot has what abilities. Starting with the rat-bot you investigate inside buildings, and hijack other bots. Hacker-bot Igor can then access the computer systems inside buildings, but don’t let him get into any fights; Igor has no weapons. Police bots (not to be confused with RoboCop) patrol the streets and guard important areas, while Grundon tank-bots guard the pyramid entrance to the bunker. Leadcoats can access irradiated areas that can harm other bots, while a maintenance bot is available to repair the others. There are a couple of remote camera robots to keep an eye on things (no pun intended), and robotic vehicles to get around town.

Sounds like you everything you need to free humanity… except a solution…

 

Cool story, bro. One of the key features of Cholo, both versions, is the novella which gives a bit of background to your quest, and possibly some hints.

You are a computer maintenance engineer named Jared. You’ve noticed that there have been an increasing number of malfunctions and failures in the bunker’s systems. This is due to the organic computer that runs the bunker is slowly “dying,” as its protein source is running low. The RAT program that was created was actually a test to find someone able to use the droids to free humanity before the computer dies completely, taking the trapped humans with it as the bunker’s life support systems fail.

Ovine also has a news archive where pre-war news provide more background, and maybe a hint or two. I’d recommend reading everything before diving into the game so you have a better chance as freeing humanity.

 

Conclusion: While not the easiest puzzle to solve, Cholo is bound to give the adventurous a good reason for playing. Some might consider the visuals rather primitive even by 2005 standards (they must have never played the original version), but that doesn’t seem to deter from the atmosphere. Cholo is one city you should consider visiting, especially if you need a break from your standard FPS blast-a-thons.

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This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Games by Mr. Roboto.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty

August 4, 2006

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty

Game Review By: DannyV_El_Acme

Year: 2001

Author: Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions

Platform: Other

Publisher: Konami

Price: I’ve seen it as low as $15

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Rating: 9 out of 10


gamecap

Introduction: With Metal Gear Solid, Hideo Kojima made a name for himself as one of the most gifted and ambitious video game designers today, so when the sequel to the game was announced, and moreover on the(then) brand-new PlayStation 2, fans were overjoyed. However, instead of a sequel which only included more of the same, Kojima used the power of the new system and DVD medium to create a game that defies characterization. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty is one of the most ambitious, complicated, even puzzling games ever made. But even with all its differences from the original, it is still very much a Metal Gear game, so that guarantees an incredible storyline and intense, stealth-oriented action.

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The story : Two years after the events of Shadow Moses, Solid Snake and Otacon are back on the field on a new mission. Snake and Otacon are now part of a UN-backed covert organization codenamed Philanthropy, whose purpose is the eradication of any and all Metal Gears around the world. Since Shadow Moses, plans for creating a Metal Gear have surfaced on the black market, leading to a multitude of clandestine organizations creating their own version of the dreaded war mech. At the start of the game, Snake and Otacon are particularly targeting a new amphibious model, Metal Gear Ray, developed by the U.S. Marines. However, things get ugly when the tanker carrying the new machine is hijacked by Russian military forces. During the course of the hijacking, Revolver Ocelot betrays his Russian comrades and, controlled by the spirit of thought-dead Liquid Snake, steals the Metal Gear prototype and sinks the tanker, causing an oil spill with Snake in it. Snake is presumed dead.

 

Two years later, on a routine visit to a plant created to control the oil spill, the President of the United States is kidnapped by a group calling themselves the Sons Of Liberty, led by a rogue black-ops group nicknamed Dead Cell. SEALs are sent to rescue the President, but the group is wiped out. As a last resort, the U.S. sends agent Raiden, a newly graduated member of Foxhound, to infiltrate the facility and rescue the President. However, as can be expected, this is no ordinary terrorist attack, and the facility houses secrets which point to a secret conspiracy only known as The Patriots. What do the terrorists want, and what does Raiden’s past have to do with the whole thing?

gamecap

The game: While Metal Gear Solid’s story and themes are pretty straightforward and well established, MGS2 goes on a much more abstract direction. The dialog and situations in this game are much more bizarre and even postmodern than those in the previous game, and paranoia is rampant. This is the most cyberpunk of all the chapters in the series, this time the story focusing on meme theory, artificial intelligence, information control, conspiracy theories, and political and military maneuvering. But above all, the topic of the dehumanizing effect of technology and the influence of genetics in human behavior really make this a fascinating game to analyze with others. Like with The Matrix trilogy, a straightforward first chapter leads to a much more complicated second one which may divide fans and confuse newcomers. However, it is this complexity which makes this probably the most important game in the series yet. The game has a sense of urgency and even fatalism that moves one to try to solve the problems contained therein, but it also constantly dangles a thread of hope to grab on to. This is probably Kojima’s most personal game, and it shows.

 

Like the previous game, the action itself is stealth-based, but this time Snake and Raiden are MUCH better prepared and capable of dealing with the game’s dangers. The jump to a new system has resulted in a much more complicated game, but also one you have more tools for taking it on with. Enemies don’t instantly sound the alarm when they see you anymore, instead they have to radio in before an alarm is called. This gives you an extra second to dispose of the enemy before they alert their comrades. However, once an enemy is incapacitated, his friends start looking for him when he doesn’t report in, so you might want to hide the body somewhere. You can also knock enemies out or put them to sleep instead of killing them, which would cause less of a fuss than a body would(enemies even humorously kick friends awake when they’re dozing). Your characters are much more athletic, too, able to flip out of gunfire’s way, and hang from ledges to hide from foes.

 

The cast in this game is just as great as the previous game. Snake’s a little lighter in attitude and able to crack a joke, having made some new and faithful friends in the previous game, and Otacon’s friendship with Snake has deepened his resolve and made him a little more sure of himself. The new characters are great, too, although some people might be put off by Raiden, the new protagonist of the series. And if Psycho Mantis was freaky, Vamp is off-the-hook SCARY.

 

The jump from 32-bit to 128 did wonders for the game’s graphics. This game came out in 2001 and it STILL looks amazing. The amount of details in this game is incredible, and character models look gorgeous. The game is also much more cinematic, with expert direction during cinemas that makes the game even more of a blockbuster than the first. The music is also on a whole different level, composed by Harry Gregson-Williams, of The Rock, Armageddon and Enemy Of The State fame.

 

Availability: The game is just as available as MGS1, with many different versions. The recommended version is MGS2: Substance, the special edition of the game with lots of extra goodies. However, GET THE PS2 VERSION. The XBox version is a glitchy mess of slowdown.

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The verdict : MGS2 is a worthy followup to the amazing game that was MGS, and stands on its own both as an entertaining game and a fascinating document of electronic literature. I sadly have to dock it a point because it isn’t the easiest game to follow(probably the same reason that made SFAM give Matrix Reloaded 9 stars instead of 10), but that’s just being fair to the first one. And it’s still a spectacular game. 9 out of 10 stars: get it, play it, be thoroughly puzzled yet amazed.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Games, Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals by DannyV_El_Acme.

Metal Gear Solid

August 2, 2006

Metal Gear Solid

Game Review By: DannyV_El_Acme

Year: 1998

Author: Hideo Kojima and Kojima Productions

Platform: Other

Publisher: Konami

Price: Around $25 or less right now

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Rating: 10 out of 10


gamecap

 

Introduction: There are few video game creators today as revered as Hideo Kojima. A producer/director of superb storytelling talent and limitless creativity, he is respected and admired by both gamers and fellow video game developers. Even mighty Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Super Mario and the father of modern video gaming, is a declared fan of Kojima’s work. However, Kojima was a relative unknown as little back as 8 years ago, until Konami gave him the go to create this, Kojima’s first modern gaming masterpiece, Metal Gear Solid. While at first glance a military game, Metal Gear Solid is actually a deep cyberpunk analysis of warfare and morality, topics that Kojima had been exploring for years, but for which, before the creation of the Playstation, he had no hardware powerful enough to tell the story with. Thankfully, he finally did, he finally made the game, and he reinvented a lowly NES game into one of video gaming’s most respected and acclaimed franchises.

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The Story : A nuclear weapon disposal facility on Shadow Moses, an island off the coast of Alaska, is invaded by an army of Genome Soldiers(genetically enhanced super-soldiers) led by Foxhound, a U.S. covert special ops team. The Genome Soldiers are dying, victims of genetic disorders caused by the gene therapy. Foxhound’s leader, Liquid Snake, makes a list of demands: one billion dollars and the body of Big Boss, Foxhound’s former CO and the one whose genes the Genome Soldiers are based on. Should the United States fail to comply, Foxhound will launch a nuclear warhead at the nation’s capital.

 

A direct attack on Shadow Moses may cause nuclear retaliation, and the presence of nuclear warheads in the facility is a secret from the world at large, so a media leak would be catastrophic. To make matters worse, Foxhound is the nation’s most elite special forces unit, each soldier capable of slaughtering entire platoons with ease. The Pentagon decides to “persuade”(i.e. force) retired Foxhound agent Solid Snake to infiltrate Shadow Moses and stop the terrorists through covert action. Armed with only his wits, radio communication with various mission analysts, and whatever he can find at the base, Snake must rely on stealth and cunning to complete his mission. However, there is MUCH more to Shadow Moses than meets the eye, secrets that could put the entire world in jeopardy, secrets dealing with Solid Snake’s shadowy past.

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The Game: If I said in my Deus Ex review that I didn’t want to spoil the story because it’s so good, this is INFINITELY truer with Metal Gear Solid. Although Deus Ex is a more “authentic” cyberpunk game, Metal Gear Solid can only be described as a playable blockbuster film. It is truly an amazing experience in storytelling, and my personal favorite videogame franchise.

 

The gameplay itself relies heavily on stealth. While Solid Snake is a formidable combatant, he is hideously outnumbered by much better armed forces actually looking to shoot him down. Snake must remain hidden and either bypass his enemies or eliminate them as silently as possible. Luckily, Snake is a superb covert operative, and he can use the environment in truly ingenious ways to hide, distract and dispatch the enemy. Snake also has various tools to help him. Throughout the game, he will find weapons and gadgets of all kinds, from infrared goggles to assault rifles, and even the now famous cardboard box to hide in. He also has a radar that permits him to not only determine enemy position, but also their line of sight, enabling him to sneak where the enemy can’t see him. However, this radar gets jammed if Snake is seen, and Snake must RUN AWAY as fast as he can until things cool down!

 

Snake also has a CODEC built into his ear, which enables him to access a multitude of helpers to give him information, tips and moral support throughout the game. The CODEC conversations are truly one of the game’s greatest strengths. They showcase the characters as more than mere cardboard cutouts. During the game, the nature of conversations will range from simple mission objectives to discussions on morality, technological development, politics, human rights, and even what it means to be human. Topics such as genetic engineering, the arms race, nuclear energy, cloning, nanotechnology, biological warfare and many more are expertly discussed. This makes for quite an endearing cast, they are truly intelligent people with their own opinions and beliefs. This is where the game’s cyberpunkness shines through. The way the game explores technology, it’s impact on society and the military in particular, and the morality of technological development are ESSENTIAL elements to the game’s story that continue to resonate through all chapters of the saga. Metal Gear Solid establishes the base for future games of the series to develop these concepts even more thoroughly.

 

And on that note, we see the game’s greatest strength: the characters. Kojima has created a truly spectacular cast, no character is wasted or underdeveloped. From the cynical and gruff Solid Snake to the spunky and optimistic Meryl and scientist/über-nerd Otacon, the characters are diverse and uniformly interesting. The bad guys are truly an awesome force, too. From the enigmatic Liquid Snake to the sadistic gunman Revolver Ocelot and the oh-so-sexy Sniper Wolf, Foxhound’s members are quite the match for our heroes.

 

Visually, the game couldn’t be more cyberpunk. Greens, blues and grays dominate the color scheme, with cold metal surfaces everywhere. Cybernetic ninjas with Predator-like cloaking devices, gigantic mecha, you name it. This game wears not only its cyberpunk roots, but its anime roots as well, on its sleeve with pride. Cinemas are expertly directed, giving the game an A-list action movie fell. AND THE VOICE ACTING!!! This is the absolute GREATEST voice acting EVER. David Hayter has actually made a career out of his work as the voice of Solid Snake, and the whole cast is composed of voice acting veterans from a multitude of games and anime. Metal Gear Solid established the standard for voice acting in the video game industry.

 

Availability: Honestly, if you can’t find this game, something’s SERIOUSLY wrong with you. There have been myriad releases of the game, including a Playstation Greatest Hits release, a PC version, and even a remake for the Gamecube(dubbed The Twin Snakes) which updates the game with next-gen graphics and gameplay elements from its sequel, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty.

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The Verdict : If you want the closest thing to a playable cyberpunk/military movie or anime, Metal Gear Solid is truly it. This is videogaming at its finest, and it has rightfully been called a masterpiece the world over. Get this game and play it, just so you know what comes before Metal Gear Solid 2. My highest recommendation, this is my all-time favorite video game series. And maybe once you play it, you’ll know why too. I(and half the press, already) give Metal Gear Solid a perfect ten stars.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Games, Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals by DannyV_El_Acme.

GameFaqs’ Top 10 Cyberpunk Games List

June 15, 2006

System Shock

 

In the Livejournal Cyberpunk Collective, automaton88 posted a link to GameFaqs’ Top 10 Cyberpunk Games. I don’t know that I’d call all of these “cyberpunk” but they are at least cyberpunk influenced. Incidentally, three different people have reviewed games at cyberpunkreview, but we’ve had a lag in getting any new ones up. More game reviews, please!

 

Deus Ex

 

Also, what’s your favorite cyberpunk game? I’m going with either System Shock or Deus Ex.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Games by SFAM.