Monday, February 6, 2012

Mashbuttons tries to keep their limbs in the Neverdead review

So Konami has provided us with their recent third person shooter, Neverdead, which seemed to be a pretty quiet release, but lets see if this is a sleeper hit or a title that falls by the wayside. In Neverdead, you play as Bryce Boltzmann, a 500 year old whose fate was sealed by the Demon King Astaroth after a life altering tragedy left him immortal. Now, Bryce, goes through life concerned only about where he will find his next drink. Bryce has a partner Arcadia, part of the National Anti-Demon Agency, in which together they strive for the extermination of demonic forces in a current day world, on what seems to be a never-ending quest for redemption. In this title, a new gameplay mechanic is introduced, in which you, Bryce, will lose and regenerate limbs in combat all while continuing the demonic battle as a benefit to the plague that has ailed him for centuries. Along with the single player story, this title provides online coop and competitive challenges supporting up to four players to keep you playing after completing the story mode. Enough about what the game provides, lets see how the title handles with me at the helm.

To start, Neverdead is kind of a double-edged sword; it has humor and gameplay similar to titles such as No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned, with its own unique twists. I was a fan of the fast gameplay and variety of weapons, while the dialogue and witty banter between Bryce and Arcadia had me laughing throughout the story. Though there is a large amount of moves and weapons that I feel I could have taken more advantage of, but after getting accustomed to some of the more powerful upgradable abilities, the lesser abilities fell by the wayside. The ability to combust limbs in efforts to destroy demons was a welcome change to the gameplay found in the genre. The regeneration of lost limbs kept gameplay frantic and forces the player to use strategy, as you are more susceptible to injury and weaker, based on what body parts you still have to work with. The animated cut scenes look great, particularly the demons’ designs are pretty twisted and the heavy metal soundtrack is very fitting to the experience as a whole.

Like I said, double-edged sword, where one feature excels, another feature unfortunately feels dated or lacking. Case and point would be dialogue, graphics, and online coop from my experience. Though the witty banter is funny at times, the dialogue between Bryce and Arcadia feels bland most of the time, but I did enjoy the interactions between the two later in the story. The graphics of the cut scenes were dark and pretty, but the graphics during gameplay felt unpolished and dated, which can be a game changer for gamers that rely heavily on appearances, I mean it is pretty important this day in age of everything HD. Online is a tough one for me as I really enjoyed the few full matches I was able to find with similarity in gameplay to Gears' Horde mode. But, finding people online to play with is difficult, as the majority of the time I attempted to take my experience online after the 8 to 10 hour story mode, my Xbox was steadily looking for anyone out there.

All in all, I liked Neverdead and felt that it held it's own with similar games in the genre despite what felt like a lack of polish and dialogue at times. The strong yet unique gameplay, character designs, and soundtrack had me hooked from start to finish in just a few sittings. Depending on what your preferences are when it comes to action titles, this can either be a sleeper hit much like the first Darkness title was, with it’s out of the box gameplay style and features. Kudos to Konami for thinking outside the box and taking a risk on new gameplay features, while not relying on the tried and true organic features found in the genre's similar games.

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