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 CARNI FINALLY FINISHED A REVIEW!!!

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Carni
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Number of posts : 40
Registration date : 2009-01-17

PostSubject: CARNI FINALLY FINISHED A REVIEW!!!   Sat Feb 06, 2010 7:33 pm

I just submitted the entire thing to gamefaqs. As I suspected, their staff needs to review my review (lol) before it can be posted.

Right at this moment I am going to admit that this review isn't that good (at least not in my eyes). I rushed to complete it. As I've been saying over the chat for the past few days, this intial review is only an experiment. By the time you've read this post, I'll have streamlined my reviewing process by crafting a template for me to reference when creating future reviews. I have also taken notes about this review so that I may further better myself.

It probably took me more than 10 hours to get back in the saddle and create this entire review. The final word count is 2,833 (5 pages in MSword). I know that that is excpetionally long, but I hope that you take the time to read it. I would really appreciate some constructive criticism on how I can even further better my reviews. You can post this advice in this topic.

I have a feeling that Gamefaqs might send the review back to me for more editing before I can post it, so just wait a bit more until I can provide a link to it.

I promise for my next review:

+ It will remain under 2000 words
+ It will be even better written
+ It will be easier to read


At first, my reviews will be very crappy, this is just a fact of life. However, as I do more, they will gradually become better. And you guys here at VC can help me with that by giving me advice and consturctive criticism.

I would like to thank Corn for motivating me to finish this project. I would also like to thank wonder for motivating me by introducing the idea of a website. I would especially like to thank Rad and AmberWinter for explaining to me how to bold and italicize things on gamefaqs. I would have been lost without them.

The game I criticized was "Psychonauts" for the original Xbox. I gave it a good score, I wont tell you what is just yet, but its good.

P.S. Thank you for taking the time to read this hastily crafted topic
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Carni
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Number of posts : 40
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PostSubject: Re: CARNI FINALLY FINISHED A REVIEW!!!   Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:55 pm

HERE IS THE ACTUAL REVIEW! I am too impatient

Introduction:

In a medium like interactive entertainment, it is not often enough that gamers get treated to something unique. However, we occasionally receive unexpected surprises that knock us off our feet. Psychonauts, fashioned by Tim Schafer and the geniuses at Double-Fine Productions, is the ideal example of a mind blowing experience. Its novelty and charm separate it entirely from all others in its class, but it also helps that Psychonauts is well designed and a joy to play. Having only purchased and beaten it now, over four years following its release, do I realize how underappreciated it was. A game of this caliber didn’t deserve such neglect from the public, although now is the time for all those interested to make-up for their past mistakes.

Story: A journey like no other

Far too many videogame narratives are predictable and flat, but thankfully such is not the case with Psychonauts. The plot is spontaneous and absurd, the characters are crafted with genuine passion and profound thought, and the wildly imaginative settings are guaranteed to make your eyes bulge in fascination. If creativity was water, then Psychonauts would be the Atlantic Ocean of gaming.

The story begins when an escaped oddball circus acrobat named Rasputin (Raz for short) attempts to infiltrate a covert military training facility for the psychologically gifted working under the impression it’s a childrens summer camp. While sneaking around at “Whispering Rock Camp”, he is inevitably discovered by the staff and his motives are revealed. Raz has aspirations of becoming a psychonaut, one of several elite psychic agents employed by the government with the task of protecting the innocent minds of humanity. Touched by his genuine desire to learn, some of the instructors allow Raz to join the program, despite it being against protocol.

Several hours afterward, Raz commences “Basic Braining” by literally diving into the harsh psyche of the military savvy Coach Oleander. Inside the coach’s noggin, Raz finds himself in the midst of a war torn battlefield, receiving an education about the inner workings of the human brain and at the same time being introduced to the various campers. As Raz steadily progresses through the course, it becomes more and more apparent that not everyone takes a liking to him. Envious jerks, cynical students, and even the Coach himself attempt to crush Raz’s resilient optimism. However, he isn’t one to submit to failure so easily.

Sometime later, after establishing himself as the camp prodigy, Raz is selected to receive advanced instruction. If he is to one day become a psychonaut, Raz must overcome all of his inner demons. These personal conflicts won’t be the only obstacles Raz will face on the road to greatness though, as an evil plot is looming. Left and right people are literally losing their minds, and it’s up to him to bring the maniacs responsible to justice. Now is the opportunity for Raz to prove himself. Now is the time for the world to witness what a psychonaut is truly capable of…

Gameplay: Ingenious level design and captivating abilities are combined fruitfully with proverbial, but somewhat faulty platforming/adventure elements.

I find it extremely difficult to sit here and compose this section of the article; Psychonauts is unlike anything I’ve ever played (or is it?). The level design and psychic powers are ludicrously inventive and pleasing, but simultaneously the core platforming mechanics feel so familiar. Mario and Zelda were obviously huge sources of inspiration, as Psychonauts goes so far as to borrow ideas from them. Although, this isn’t to say that Psychonauts is a rip-off, as it takes incredibly little compared to what it produces on its own.

The crown jewel of this game is the imaginative environments that endlessly astonish. One moment Raz is fending off an oversized mutated lungfish at the bottom of a sinister lagoon and the next he’s hundreds of feet tall, demolishing skyscrapers and obliterating military forces Godzilla style. Levels take place in the consciousness of disorderly individuals, which includes those who are mentally unstable, so don’t be shocked at some of the warped landscapes you’ll visit. However, what should shock is how well Double-Fine can impose these myriad fresh objectives upon players without breaking the consistency of play. Most videogames have one or two novelty segments, typically comprised of some unintuitive mini-game with a shoddy control scheme, but not Psychonauts. Every inch of progression brings something excitingly original; sometimes even throwing multiple new mechanics at you concurrently, but the experience is regardless coherent because the controls and difficulty are tremendously accommodating. Becoming bored is quite a challenge.

On the subject of preserving player interest, Raz’s supernatural talents do a splendid job. The selection of endowments acquired by journey’s end is almost daunting. Raz can become invisible, mentally hurtle enemies like tooth picks, and effortlessly platform with a bulky levitation bubble (easily my most favorite game mechanic to date). There are numerous additional powers that are equally intriguing, but what will certainly arouse curiosity is the yearning to experiment with your abilities in combat. Tired of constantly competing with large assemblies of foes the old fashioned way? Imagine a solution. Simply cloak yourself with invisibility, stroll directly into their midst, and perform a punishing psychic ground pound. Or better yet, set them ablaze with a mere thought using the flame spouting “pyrokinesis” technique. At times, particular skills lose their appeal quickly to newer ones, but Double-Fine cleverly implemented a linear upgrade system that will enhance older talents fairly frequently. This means players will be using each power at length as apposed to disregarding them so soon.

Earlier I mentioned that Mario influenced the development of Psychonauts, the fun platforming is representative of this idea. Raz takes advantage of his extensive circus training by ambling across narrow tight ropes, catapulting himself into the air with trampolines, and even navigating numerous suspended platforms. Now these may seem like cliché advancement methods, but what Psychonauts does to really mix things up is drastically alter the situations and settings in which they are presented. Players will not be hopping from generic stone slabs hanging over some bland chasm, they will find themselves gracefully leaping from slender catwalks on the ceiling of a Victorian theater or riding the sloping power cables of a paranoid 1950s suburbia. This game encompasses so many previously used mobility mechanics, although their arrangement is so unpredictable that it almost never gets old. Even the last few minutes of the game contains sequences unlike anything you have played before, the relentless barrage of new material is why I adore Psychonauts.

However, my love is tough and I will not forgive even the few errors this title committed. The most prominent mistake was the “POINT OF NO RETURN” that the player is completely unaware of. It occurs right before the final level, and if triggered, is not optional to back out of. I intended to return to the overworld and service the levels again to retrieve the extras I had missed, but this event just slapped me in the face and said “NO! You’re moving forward whether you like it or not.” Additionally, the final world is overly linear and frustratingly difficult, which is totally inconsistent with the rest of the adventure. Another little thorn in my side was how stupid it can be to return to a level just to tediously search for one or two collectibles. I can think of other games that have this issue, but it stands out more here. I honestly believe that in titles like these, it is necessary to have some sort of guidance system that will lead you the final goodie once all others have been obtained. Luckily, these faults are very avoidable now that the knowledge has been passed on in this review, it should make the experience even more pleasant.

All in all, the gameplay is marvelous. There will be incidents of displeasure here and there, but not nearly enough to render this game below a level of “A” quality fun.

Control/Interface: A small number of faults render this the weakest aspect of the game, regardless it proves very tight and accessible.

It is a difficult task to nail the controls for a platformer or adventure title, so in mixing the two there was bound to be a couple of mistakes. Thankfully, the issues here are fairly dismissible because genre enthusiasts have encountered them before. Minor annoyances such as a clunky enemy targeting system, trouble with the camera when swinging from poles, and rare instances where depth perception is thrown off are the only outstanding irritants. Otherwise, manipulating Rasputin is a breeze. He jumps, runs, and floats exactly where the player wants him to.

The only uninspired and sluggish component of Psychonauts is the Zelda mimicked targeting system. Clicking the shoulder button will initiate a lock on of the nearest threat, from this position Raz can strafe, advance, or retreat by flipping in one of the four directions. Players can disengage or switch between opponents at any time (unfortunately this feature doesn’t work too smoothly). My chief concern with this arrangement is how stiffly Raz maneuvers. He can walk or flip to evade, but walking is utterly useless. Combatants are always relentless, they never take a cautious approach as they would with Link, and Raz is vulnerable when he saunters so slowly. Flipping is only recommended for use in open spaces against large enemies, as Raz will hurtle himself too far too fast. The camera looses track of the action when Raz flips repeatedly in enclosed spaces. I rarely used the targeting system for normal encounters, but it worked well for bosses, although that’s about it. This mechanic isn’t a nightmare to deal with, but everyone will agree it needs some serious retooling.

Staple mechanics such as pitching your character amid rods jutting from a wall or ceiling are typically problematic in platformers, this is especially true of Psychonauts. Learning how adjust the camera in order to get the ideal transitioning perspective is annoying initially, but becomes more bearable over time. Still, there will be select situations in which you must cross gaps in a 3D space and the camera will hinder your progress. Furthermore, building momentum to swing by making half circles with the analogue stick can become quite confusing when the camera shifts viewpoints. I often found myself having to stop my body entirely after each pitch, turning the camera to my liking, and then building up the momentum, which can be tedious. Luckily, this doesn’t really apply to the horizontal pitching sections (in which you are observing from a left to right angle), but I guarantee you’ll have trouble with swinging from poll to poll in some form. I repeat the notion that this particular mechanic isn’t too much of a hassle, as it is in no way prominent, however it is there and it will not go entirely unnoticed.

My comments have likely convinced the reader that the control is terrible, but I confess that the layout proves quite the opposite. Raz operates as smoothly as any other platforming protagonist, the abilities are a snap to employ (levitation ball is godly in this respect), and the menus are reasonably straightforward. The pacing of the game is aided by the solidity of the controls. There isn’t too much to complain about here.

Graphics: The artistic style is superb, the faces, not so much.

Psychonauts should be considered a prevailing artistic achievement with its multitude of spectacular styles. As an added bonus it features: slick cutscenes, detailed textures, and glossy visual effects. Occasionally though, this game can be a bit rough. Secondary characters often suffer from a lack of facial detail, especially when their mouths move during conversations. Also, the in-game videos sport exceptionally stiff character animations. In the grand scheme of things however, these are only nitpicks, this game is generally a jewel to behold.

A magnificently distinct artistic approach compliments each environment in the game, definitely one of the chief highlights of the overall product. The outstanding use of color is what really grasps the eyes. From the shadowy recesses of Raz’s own subconscious to the psychedelic vibrancy of your mentor’s delusional roller-disco, every shade and hue of the rainbow is taken advantage of. Since Raz is venturing into the minds of different creatures, they will each require their own personality and mental scenery. Rest assured that the contrasting visual techniques will instill a wild sense of independence in each level.

The meticulous textures and effects in Psychonauts are absolutely nothing to complain about. It is the supplementary details like glistening eyeballs and the brilliance of Raz’s levitation orb that show the visuals were worked on deliberately. Here and there I discovered some bland spaces, but these were always insignificant and resided off the beaten path. This title will not leave you in awe, perhaps as a Final Fantasy or Halo game would, but I guarantee it will surprise you often.

As I played, I regularly noticed the lack of detail in secondary characters faces. This conscious disregard for character construction is inexcusable for the technological capabilities of the year 2005. In every other aspect these characters are fleshed out (right down to the nasally voices), although evidently they didn’t deserve the extra graphical polish. Particularly cringe-inducing are the monotonous and puppet-like mouth movements that every character sports outside of a cutscene. Double-Fine is such a talented developer that it begs the question of why they did not correct this annoyance from the onset.

At any rate, this is one visually attractive game, even if it does have some blemishes. Psychonauts can be compared to the awkward highschool teenager, beyond the rough exterior of acne lays a charming individual. If you didn’t attempt to look past the surface, you never would have even noticed all the redeeming qualities they possessed.

Audio: Lively music and effects combine with exceptional voice work in order to bring about one of the better soundtracks in all of videogames.

Everyone preaches that perfection is impossible to achieve, however that is false, the voice acting in Psychonauts is absolutely flawless. Leading this cast of impeccable professionals is Richard Horvitz (better known as Invader Zim). Offering support are veterans like David Kaye (Clank: Ratchet and Clank), Steven Blum (Jack Cayman: Madworld), Earl Boen (Narrator: World of Warcraft) and dozens upon dozens of other wonderful actors. By the year 2005, this was by far the peak of videogame voice work. If you aren’t impressed by what you hear, your standards are insatiable.

The unpredictably great score was composed by Peter McConnell (Monkey Island, Sly Cooper, and Star Wars: X-Wing). From setting to setting, the music does a fine job of keeping pace and changing it up. I found that the energetic and upbeat tracks would often stick in my head after sessions, a testament to how catchy they can be. Fortunately, nothing boring permeates the music catalogue. McConnell is a tenured LucasArts composer, so don’t expect any lack in quality here.

On the sound effects side, there is also a solid contribution. The sheer number of effects and the clarity of the audio are impressive. Everything from booming explosions to swiftly flying laser beams are here. Perhaps a sound here or there is a little corny, but it is bound to be more comedic than distasteful.

Psychonauts is comprised of some of the greatest audio work on the Xbox (as well as the PS2). As if having a dynamic score weren’t enough, the game also features stellar voice acting. For its time, this was easily the best the industry had to offer.

Lasting Appeal: Fairly short, but exceedingly sweet. The sheer novelty of the game is worth experiencing at least twice.

Assuming players have gathered every last goodie, Psychonauts will clock in at around 25 hours. This is a reasonable length for most. For those looking to maximize on their investment however, I suggest starting over again. The overabundance of creativity is effortlessly capable of satisfying a second time. Also, the fact that you’ll return with prior knowledge almost guarantees a much smoother gameplay experience. In the near future, I intend to begin a new file.

Pros/Cons:

+ The most creative game in over 10 years, hands down
+ Writing is powerful, clever, and hilarious
+ Wacky and Unpredictable level design is awe-inspiring
+ Tons of unique collectibles
+ Gameplay mechanics are solid and enjoyable
+ Voice acting is superb

- Final level is overly frustrating
- Unexpected “POINT OF NO RETURN!”
- Controls could have used some polish here and there

Conclusion:

In the end, Psychonauts is definitely worth it. I paid $30 for a brand new disc copy of the game to play on my Xbox 360. Looking back, I would have gladly spent the full $60, that’s how good it is. Since I don’t have live, I couldn’t download the game off of Xbox Originals for a mere 1200 Microsoft points. For how innovative this adventure is, $15 is a laughably cheap admission price.
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