Over this last generation we have seen many great games hit the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network, Final Exam is not one of them. At first glance Final Exam looks like it has the potential to be a hit. You have a high-school setting with four somewhat stereotypical but different characters. You have a monster invasion to fight off and numerous levels to fight through. It looks like it could be a modern take on a Streets of Rage style game but with monsters and HD visuals.
Let me preface this review by stating that there will be no score given at the end of it. I have not finished this game therefore I feel giving a score for the 15 or so hours I have played would be unfair. This will not be a full review of the game and there will be a part to come when I have actually finished it, the purpose of this article is to serve as something of a review in progress and give my impressions of the game based off of the graphics, battle system, music, voice acting and the story thus far.
It’s currently half 12 on a Saturday afternoon and I’ve spent the past two hours playing Pool Nation. As a reviewer I have to play games for quite a bit of time but I’ve not been playing Pool Nation because I’ve had to review it, I’ve been playing it because it’s an incredibly fun game that provides an accurate but accessible video game version of the much beloved pub pastime.
It can be said that through a combination of story telling, technology and gameplay Rockstar create experiences to be remembered. They are a company that aren’t afraid to experiment or push boundaries and also one that learn from previous mistakes and mix it up a bit. You could say Max Payne itself is another example of them mixing it up a touch. Rockstar are used to bringing us explosive non-linear experiences as seen in Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto and even Bully. Max Payne 3 isn’t non-linear, Max Payne 3 is a full on cinematic and linear shooter. Sometimes there is a question people have over whether or not linearity is a good or a bad thing, often games like Call Of Duty are criticised for being linear but for me it depends on whether or not the rest of the game balances on the fact that it is linear, we look at things such as the story, the variation in environments and sequences, the combat, length and cinematics themselves. When you add all these factors together Rockstar have crafted an experience that stands as one of the best shooters in this generation of games and this is without even going into the multiplayer.
You might be forgiven if you haven’t played or even heard of Darksiders before, after all the first title wasn’t a very well publicised game and it came out amidst a sea of high budget, highly marketed titles. The game itself though was a critical darling and did garner a loyal fanbase amongst those who played it. Darksiders followed the story of the Horseman War who had been blamed for triggering the apocalypse too early, he was sent out by the charred council to uncover the truth and clear his name.
When it comes to open world RPGs the first that many think of will be Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series and that is for good reason, for all their faults the Elder Scrolls games offer a rich and original universe packed full of content. There is perhaps another advantage that the latest Elder Scrolls games have also been big players in the AAA console market. There have been however many other open world RPG series some doing quite well such as the Risen titles and Dragon’s Dogma to name but two. There have also been several releases that have faltered such as the abysmal Two Worlds series.