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A Brief Introduction to A Biased Review Reloaded

A Biased Review originally started as a casual affair in response to a review series called An Unbiased Review, so its setup ended up being similar when it turned into an actual series as well. I've written over 70 reviews in less than four years, but the whole thing became more and more disjointed and less passionate as time went on. Most notably, the database thread stopped getting updated despite new reviews being posted. But the layout of the reviews themselves as well as the scoring stopped being satisfactory to me, so I was waiting for a good opportunity to reboot the whole thing for good. That's where A Biased Review Reloaded enters the picture as a new generation begins. All reviews and all discussion in a single thread. The second post of this thread will include direct links to all reviews as well as an explanation of the review process. You can request games to review, including ones that were already reviewed under A Biased Review.

Most Recent Review - Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

It has been seven years since the last Metroid game was released, so naturally there is a lot of demand for a new installment. What we get here is a remake of the Game Boy game Metroid II: Return of Samus, developed by Mercury Steam who had the honor to run Castlevania into the ground. It is certainly an odd choice by Nintendo to trust such people enough to bring Metroid back to glory after the disastrous Other M. Where the Castlevania game for 3DS failed is that it tried to move elements from 3D games into a 2D game, so it was kinda like a God of War in 2D with long and drawn out enemy encounters. It doesn't come as much of a surprise that Samus Returns incorporates more elaborate puzzles or pseudo-puzzles similar to what is found in the Metroid Prime games. What works in 3D isn't necessarily fun in 2D. These things were fine in the Prime trilogy because the games were much slower to begin with. In a 2D game you only get slowed down.

The introduction of Aeion powers falls in a similar category. Before I get to them, I want to note that these powers are selected with the d-pad which means that the Circle Pad controls Samus. Gone are the days of ultra-precise movement, so bumping into stuff you don't want to or facing in the wrong direction when trying to crouch are common occurences. The sole benefit you get from analog controls is 360° aiming while holding the L button to stand still. While many players gush about this because it allows more precise aiming, I can only shake my head because this precise aiming wouldn't be needed if I could move Samus around with high accuracy. What you ultimately get in Samus Returns is the inverse of what we got in Other M: Analog controls in a 2D sidescroller are just as mindboggling as d-pad controls in a 3D space.

The first Aeion power allows you to reveal a portion of the map and nearby breakable blocks. The developers didn't shy away from using this power as an excuse for unintuitive level design, so you commonly find yourself using the power because it's not clear if there could be a path somewhere. The second power feels inspired by Halo, so you can use your Aeion bar as a shield gauge that only depletes upon hits. Enemies hit so hard in this game that I died quite a few times because I refused to fall back on such a cheap mechanic. The third power increases the efficiency of your beam which I consider pure annoyance because this is an IP where you already upgrade your beam through other means. The fourth power slows down time which is all about crossing paths with quickly breaking blocks, something that the Speed Booster accomplished in other installments.

All this sounds very negative, but that's because I have high expectations for a series that has delivered some of the most stellar games in video game history. Navigating through SR388 is still enjoyable, finding plenty of upgrades along the way. It's just that almost everything that is new isn't good. The original Metroid 2 had unique level design in that you entered an area, cleared it of Metroids, collected upgrades and then moved on to the next area. This core is still intact in the remake, but someone thought it would be a good idea to put in backtracking which led to the introduction of teleporters. What makes the design of Metroid so outstanding is that you can get around fast in late-game, so something like teleporters aren't even necessary. But here they are a necessity to at least somewhat reduce the tedious feeling you get from trying to collect 100% of the items.

After my first playthrough I was ready to hand Metroid: Samus Returns a 5 because it was such a letdown. But I gave the game another chance and got used to everything, including the use of the stupid melee attack. You get punished for trying to play well and kill enemies without melee, because they have a lot of health. But standing still, waiting of their attack and then using melee depletes almost all of their health and stuns them to be picked off with one or two shots. Much of my experience was better the second time around, however, collecting all items still sucked as much as before. In the end I am left with a game that feels a lot like Other M despite the mistakes that were made differing greatly. Other M might actually be the slightly better game because one of its biggest shortcomings (story) can be skipped on additional playthroughs.

Controls 10 The Circle Pad controls come with a trade-off: Good for aiming
while standing still, but lacking in precision for movement.
Gameplay   The typical 2D-Metroid gameplay is bogged down by too many
influences from 3D games that slow down the pace.
Story   Go to planet, eradicate threats, the end. Intros for new
enemy types are kept at a reasonable length.
Single-player   The original Metroid 2's level design doesn't gel with the
backtracking that is introduced in the remake.
Multiplayer   Not
available.
Graphics   Certainly looks nice, but it's not always a stable
experience. Too many framerate drops for my liking.
Sound   Most of the soundtrack lives off of remixes which aren't
particularly good. Arrangements blend together too much.
Value   The first any-percent playthrough lasts about eight hours.
Going for 100% adds another few hours.
Replay Value   Hard mode makes you take more damage, no other changes.
A 100% route is going to be tedious, no matter what.
Score 6 Not a Metroid game that will reignite the IP. Too many basic
mistakes make it an Other M that takes on a different form.


Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes

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How Games Are Reviewed

I'll try to make five paragraphs the upper limit. Following the body of the review will be a table with a variety of categories that are graded with different colors. Here's what each color means:

Blue = Great
Green = Good
Yellow = Acceptable
Orange = Questionable
Red = Bad
White = No Grade

Here are descriptions for how each category is evaluated:

Controls 10 Are the controls intuitive and responsive?
Are there glaring problems?
Gameplay   Is it fun? Are gameplay systems thought through?
Are there original ideas or is everything derivative?
Story   Are the plot and writing good? How is it presented?
Setting, lore, world-building and atmosphere also factor into this.
Single-player   Quality of the single-player experience.
May mention additional gameplay notes.
Multiplayer   Quality of the multiplayer experience, including online if applicable.
May mention additional gameplay notes.
Graphics   Art style and technical execution.
Hardware capabilities are taken into account.
Sound   Do music and sound effects fit the game?
Is the soundtrack memorable?
Value   Content judgment on a quantity level.
How much game is there for the asking price?
Replay Value   How does the content hold up once you've gone through it?
Is it once and done, or is it replayable?
Score   The quality of the game summed up in a number ranging from 0-10.
The weight of the above aspects varies depending on the kind of game.

The score will be in full points from 0-10. Before I list what each score means, I want to note that there is a caveat for the highest available score: In order to suffocate any chance of getting manipulated by hype, games are not eligible for a 10 until they are at least one year old. This means that 9s must be evaluated again eventually. If I have no desire to do this, then it definitely means that the game wasn't deserving of a 10.

10 = Masterpiece
9 = Fantastic
8 = Great
7 = Good
6 = Decent
5 = Mediocre
4 = Questionable
3 = Bad
2 = Awful
1 = Abysmal
0 = Steaming

The 0 is an appropriate reference to Valve's store where Early Access is a real thing, just to give you an idea what type of game a 0 is on my review scale. Colors will apply to the scores as well and they'll be used as follows:

8-10 = Blue. This is the range for highly recommended games. Buying them at full price shouldn't be cause for regrets.
6-7 = Green. This is the range where you should think twice about buying at full price. You aren't missing out by skipping such games either, so if you have time constraints, you are better off by focusing on the blue range. If you have time though, there's nothing wrong with paying full price or at least a discounted price, because green still represents recommended games.
5 = Yellow. This should only be up for consideration if the game is on sale and fills the void of an underrepresented genre.
4 = Orange. Similar to yellow, but here you are already taking a really big gamble.
0-3 = Red. This is the range you should only dabble in if you have a liking for trash, i.e. you get enjoyment from experiencing how bad games can be.

List of Reviewed Games by System in Alphabetical Order

3DS

7th Dragon III: Code VFD - 6
Brave Dungeon (eShop) - 6
Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight - 9
Ever Oasis - 7
Metroid (Virtual Console) - 4
Metroid II: Return of Samus (Virtual Console) - 7
Metroid: Samus Returns - 6
Picross 3D: Round 2 - 9
Resident Evil Revelations - 8
Xeodrifter (eShop) - 4

Game Boy Advance

Metroid Fusion - 9

GameCube

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean - 8
Beyond Good & Evil - 7
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem - 6
F-Zero GX - 5
Killer7 - 6
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door - 10
Pikmin - 7
Pikmin 2 - 7
Resident Evil 4 - 9
Skies of Arcadia Legends - 6
Star Fox Adventures - 7
Super Mario Sunshine - 8
Tomb Raider Legend - 6
Wave Race Blue Storm - 9

PlayStation 2

Resident Evil 4 - 8

PlayStation 4

Horizon Zero Dawn - 8
Resident Evil 7: biohazard - 7

Switch

Blaster Master Zero (eShop) - 6
Golf Story (eShop) - 7
Implosion: Never Lose Hope (eShop) - 5
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - 9
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle - 7
Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas (eShop) - 6
Picross S (eShop) - 8
Snake Pass (eShop) - 3
SteamWorld Dig 2 (eShop) - 8

Wii

DiRT 2 - 2
The Last Story - 5
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - 8
Metroid: Other M - 6
Metroid Prime Trilogy - 10 (10/10/10)
Pandora's Tower - 7
Paper Mario (Virtual Console) - 9
Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition - 10
Super Metroid (Virtual Console) - 10
Tomb Raider Anniversary - 7
Tomb Raider Underworld - 2

Wii U

F-Zero (Virtual Console) - 8
F-Zero X (Virtual Console) - 8
Metroid: Zero Mission (Virtual Console) - 9
Mutant Mudds Super Challenge (eShop) - 6
Paper Mario: Color Splash - 6
Resident Evil Revelations - 5
Shantae: Half Genie Hero (eShop) - 7
Wave Race 64 (Virtual Console) - 8



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Despite being a return to Zelda's roots of an open world action RPG, Breath of the Wild is commonly called a departure for the series. This shows how far off the path Zelda had strayed before returning to form with its latest installment. The game starts with a tutorial area that doesn't feel like a tutorial and is big enough to easily spend a couple of hours or more to get accustomed to the controls and mechanics. What becomes quickly apparent is that the developers have no intentions to funnel the player through a predetermined path, but pretty much every problem you face can be solved in multiple ways. This includes the puzzles found in most of the 120 shrines scattered across this tremendous incarnation of Hyrule. But it would be wrong to call the puzzles broken when they were meant to be circumvented by creative thinking outside the box.

Likewise, where you go after the initial area is completely up to you. If you want, you can go to Hyrule Castle and face the final boss Ganon right away. But Hyrule Castle is a truly threatening place. That is, if you even make it there, because you'll encounter plenty of enemies that can one-shot you. When a new hard mode was announced as DLC before the game's release, it was still unknown whether or not the base game would have difficulty options. It can be confirmed that it doesn't have a hard mode out of the box. But that doesn't matter, because Breath of the Wild teaches you respect quickly. It's no understatement to say that even Zelda veterans will accumulate more game overs in Breath of the Wild than in all previous 3D Zelda games combined. Nobody is going to ask for a hard mode for their first playthrough, because players are going to get beaten to death in no time.

Hyrule Castle is absolutely intense, it's something that hasn't been present in Zelda in a long time. Breath of the Wild's emergent gameplay, world and final dungeon leave such a strong impression on players that it gets completely overlooked that Hyrule Castle is actually the only dungeon in the entire game. Breath of the Wild is so wonderful that an otherwise such glaring shortcoming doesn't even matter. What makes games great are interesting choices, and this Zelda gives players so much freedom that they can go in any direction and discover nice things. Time flies while playing this game and none of it seems wasted, because progress can be made anywhere you go. In addition to the 120 shrines and four titans (which are elaborate puzzles, not dungeons), there are 900 hidden korok seeds (used to expand your inventory) and hundreds of treasure chests with supplies like arrows, gems and rupees. There's a lot of use for money this time around, because there are so many different armor sets with individual perks.

Breath of the Wild is pretty much the anti-thesis of Skyward Sword. Whereas the Wii game had long cutscenes and talkative NPCs, the Wii U/Switch release makes the majority of the story completely optional and only focuses on the most important events in its few cutscenes. While characters are only depicted for a few brief minutes, they still manage to become likeable and relatable. It's the art of telling a story with hundred words instead of tenthousand. The real story are the player's actions and it's not even defeating Ganon that feels like the ultimate goal, rather it's the journey itself. Players have become so used to beating a game as the reward that they've forgotten how fun games can be regardless of if they are finished or not. This is why Breath of the Wild got bombarded with perfect scores, because its premise is "you, the player, are great" instead of the all too common "look how awesome we developers are."

Yet despite doing so many great things, there are still plenty of opportunities where the next Zelda could be improved. There's no need for the world to get bigger; a sequel needs dungeons to provide more of that high intensity that is found in Hyrule Castle. The framerate of Breath of the Wild has too many dips to be excusable, although it is stable for the vast majority of the time. There could and probably should be more music. While it's nice that only half of the korok seeds need to be collected to max out your inventory space, it also means that the rest are only good to drive up a completion percentage (unless it turns out that there is an amazing award for finding all of them). The minigames are fun, but most of them do not net any rewards other than rupees. The replay value isn't going to be the same as for previous games; the classic top-down games can be played through in a weekend, but Breath of the Wild demands a lot more time.

Controls 10 Loaded with functionality, but no problem to get used to them.
No separate options for aiming and camera controls.
Gameplay   Fight and defeat enemies to get better equipment.
Explore the world to upgrade your stats.
Story   Cutscenes are only used for meaningful events and tell
everything the player needs to know.
Single-player   Epic open world game that truly allows players to do what
they want, including facing the final boss at any time.
Multiplayer   Not
available.
Graphics   Excellent artstyle. Rather common ramerate dips in docked
mode, notable draw-in and pop-ups in both modes.
Sound   Sparse use of music in the wild where players will spend most
of their time. Dramatic music in key sequences.
Value   The main quest will last most players anywhere between
40-80 hours, but there's stuff to do for well over 100.
Replay Value   Players can try to beat Ganon sooner, but the game is so
huge that it demands much more time than previous Zeldas.
Score 9 A big step in the right direction for the Zelda series, but as
great as BotW is, there's room for plenty of improvements.


Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes

Barring reading the complete review, your scoring system is interesting. I wouldn't recommend just a "decent" (6) game to anyone.

Carl is a Piplup hater and deserves to be punished eternally.

RolStoppable said:

The real story are the player's actions and it's not even defeating Ganon that feels like the ultimate goal, rather it's the journey itself. Players have become so used to beating a game as the reward that they've forgotten how fun games can be regardless of if they are finished or not. This is why Breath of the Wild got bombarded with perfect scores, because its premise is "you, the player, are great" instead of the all too common "look how awesome we developers are."

I agree with most of your points here, but this part in particular stood out. The journey is definitely where the game shines. It's not a game where I find myself plotting how soon I'll get to the end, every gaming session is a complete surprise and surpasses my wildest expectations.

I also must say that I love how the narrative was executed in this game. You pretty much can have as much story as you like, or as little. I honestly don't play enough games that feature story-telling like this, and I'd love to see it more often, particularly in this genre. Giving me control of how I advance through the world, only  to force me to listen to mandatory main quest events, definitely hinders that that feeling of complete control.

Anyways, excellent review, Rol. Hope to see this continue.



NNID: Zephyr25 / PSN: Zephyr--25 / Switch: SW-4450-3680-7334

NintendoPie said:
Barring reading the complete review, your scoring system is interesting. I wouldn't recommend just a "decent" (6) game to anyone.

That's because the commonly used review scales have 7 as average and 6 is already bad territory (hence why 74 already constitutes yellow on Metacritic). Mediocre (=average) games get pushed so close to good games that there's barely any distinction anymore. Something's wrong when games that differ notably in quality have basically the same score.

When I did A Biased Review many people perceived me as being too harsh, but when I reflect on it, I consider more reviews as too generous than I do as too harsh.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes

No mention of weapon durability? That deserves a trigger warning. Also, the reward for all 900 korok seeds is literally shit.



Bet with bluedawgs: I say Switch will outsell PS4 in 2018, he says PS4 will outsell Switch. Winner gets avatar control for a month.

Bet with palou: I say Mario Odyssey will sell less than 900k FW in the US, he says more. Winner gets avatar control for a month.

NNID: Slarvax - Steam: Slarvax - Friend Code:  SW 7885-0552-5988

Slarvax said:

No mention of weapon durability? That deserves a trigger warning. Also, the reward for all 900 korok seeds is literally shit.

I didn't mention the lack of a playable female character either. Why should I?



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes

Tagging for later, looks good :D

NintenDomination [2015/05/19 - 2017/07/02] 

              

 

 

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I wouldn't say the replay value for this game is lower than other Zeldas, in fact I'd say it's the highest of any Zelda game. Because it allows so much freedom, it can be a lot of fun to replay the game with different "rules" or ways to tackle things - as well as trying to beat it in a couple of hours after becoming used to the final bosses and stuff.

The Greatest Games event is going on, so here's my current top 50.