8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Need For Speed Most Wanted Review

It’s time to look at the next Need For Speed game! One impressive thing about the franchise has always been how long each game is. This is another title that will potentially have you busy for 20+ hours and that’s no small feat. EA really put a lot of heart into this series back in the day so I’m curious if that will continue to be the case as I get close to the end of the game series. Most Wanted brings back all of the good elements from Underground 2 while improving on them. It’s the definitive NFS game so far.

The game starts with you heading into town for some good races. You find the top dog and challenge him to a race. Unfortunately he cheats and steals your car. You now have to rise back up to the top from the bottom with a random car. The problem is that your old car was the best in the world. Defeating that is going to be very difficult. There is one lady in your corner who defends you from the blacklist, but ultimately you’ll have to take down all of the racers if you want your dignity back. Are you ready to challenge these guys or is it curtains for you?

At its core the main gameplay of Most Wanted is naturally racing. You have to beat the other cars to the goal. If we go more in depth, the game has a consistent flow chart of how things work out. To challenge a member of the blacklist (There are 10 people on the blacklist) you have to meet certain criteria. This includes: Complete 6 races, 5 Milestones, and achieve a certain amount of bounty. The races are self explanatory, but there are various types like Drag, Circuit, Sprint, Speed Trap, Lap Knockout, and a Time Attack. They all have differing rules but as long as you drive carefully and quickly you’ll be okay. I personally like Sprint and Speed Trap the most. Just boost at the right times and you’ll be set.

Milestones involve escaping the police and doing some time trials. These start out easy but by the end of the game they are quite difficult. For example, one milestone is to run from the cops for 13 minutes without being caught. You can definitely imagine that this is not very easy. If your car tips over then it’s likely over. There’s also the spike traps that are left out which serve as one hit KO attacks against your car. If you’re hit then it’s all over. The bounty also naturally goes up by destroying cop cars or surviving for a while.

Once you’ve taken down 1 or 2 members of the blacklist you’ll be able to see how the game goes from there. While there aren’t many cutscenes here there are still a few more than in the last game. I imagine that the number should keep going up as you go through the series. The cop takedown videos are pretty fun when you lose although it would be nice if they were skippable. By the end you’ll have seen them many times so they aren’t quite as hype by then.

The graphics are definitely pretty nice. The fact that this game finally takes place in the daytime is cool as it makes for a great contrast during the gameplay. It’s like you’re finally back in a real city. The soundtrack is pretty similar to the last one. At least you are given the option to disable songs you don’t like which is very handy. That is already a pretty big game changer if you ask me. The soundtrack isn’t amazing, but the tempo of the songs certainly fit the races.

There’s a good amount of replay value here. Even after you have beaten the game there are a bunch of races to play. Perhaps not as much as you may think, but certainly enough. You can also just have fun running from the cops for hours. It’s an aspect of the game that won’t get old. Then you’ve also got Challenge Mode which has over 50 things to tackle there. The final challenge is sort of like the final mission in the game as the cops have everyone after you. Don’t think it’ll be easy to evade those guys. This time they’re playing for keeps.

One interesting thing is that you can max out your car before the final two members of the Blacklist show up. You will literally have a car that has all its stat figures maxed out. That means that the final two cars aren’t even worth equipping as they are actually slower than yours. It’s an interesting decision and it was almost a bit odd. Still, I guess it shows that you just have to keep your driving at a high level because at the end they’ll all be matching you. I do recommend trying for the pink slips when you beat the rivals on the blacklist since getting a car is worth the odds.

Also, one thing I liked about the final blacklist race is how the villain appears to cheat which fits with his character. He’ll suddenly vanish from the map and appear in front of you or take a shortcut that you don’t have access to. He beat me once using these cheap tricks. It was cool though because I can’t think of a time a game has done that before and it just makes sense. He cheated the first time, why wouldn’t he do so now? The villain’s name was Razor I believe and while he’s definitely not even a good villain, I did like the voice. It oozed confidence from start to finish.

Overall, Need For Speed Most Wanted is definitely a great title. If you haven’t played a Need For Speed game then I’d say you should certainly start with this one. It’s got the huge hub world from Underground 2, but without the style point grinding. The story also takes more of a focus as you can choose to just do the story battles and go from there. The other games forced you to do a bunch of extra races. Next up is Carbon and I’m interested in seeing how that game is set up. It looks like it might be a bit shorter than these last few, but it’s still Need For Speed so we’ll see about that.

Overall 8/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Taken 3 Review

Uh oh, Taken’s back for another copy of the same plot. Who’s going to die/get kidnapped this time and why do they never let Bryan have a happy ending? In truth, the film was actually decently good the whole time except for…a scene with animal violence. Why did they feel the need to destroy the dog? That was sloppy writing and that’s putting it nicely. I expected much more from this film, ah well. Conceptually, having a Taken 3 makes sense for that “One Last Ride” kind of feel and the poster is actually very good. The execution just wasn’t ready for it.

Well, Bryan is having a good day as per usual until he heads home and finds out that his ex-wife has been murdered. He is framed for having done the deed and must prove his innocence while finding the real crooks. It’ll be tough though since they are after his daughter as well now and these guys don’t play by the rules. Furthermore, Bryan is being hunted by the FBI and CIA so that complicates things. Ah well, he’s a pro so he should be able to get the job done.

I don’t really talk about cinematography or camera work much because I don’t really care much about it. Unless it’s really bad camera work like objectionable zoom ins (Michael Bay films) or something then it’s all the same to me. Still, it’s worth mentioning how the camera constantly cuts away in this film. Action scenes use dozens of different camera angles and they all barely last over a moment. It’s like the director was panicking the whole time. It’s unintentionally funny, but I don’t think that’s what he was going for.

The film’s mostly not all that violent which is nice. I dare say that it’s probably the most tame of the 3. After all, this one is really focused on being a big action film as opposed to a dark, more serious kind of revenge tale. That being said, the waterboarding scene was a bit much. Bryan puts the guy under 3 different times in a scene that drags on way too much. The guy will sputter and gargle, talk a tough game, then rinse and repeat twice. I was expecting it to happen twice, but not a third time. That was definitely a twist, just not a good one.

This film wasn’t even all that dark. Again, it’s just a generic action thriller with some iffy plots. One of those plots was that his ex-wife is unsatisfied with her current marriage and wants to cheat on the side with Bryan. He is too honorable for that even if his reaction time is suspiciously slow for breaking it off when she attacks him. We didn’t really need this and it does seem like she’s floating back and forth a little too much. The characters all talk about how her current husband is pretty bad and he does turn out to be one of the big villains, but I don’t see what she saw in him the first time.

The husband is basically just one of those guys who owes a bunch of money to gangsters and is now caught in a position where he owes them a lot of money. Ah well, that’s why you don’t deal with gangsters. The film never tries to get you to sympathize with him and that’s good since I wouldn’t have bought the act. The actual villains are pretty soulless though and don’t get any personality. They’re literally just guys with guns and this isn’t personal for once. I guess there wasn’t as much of a focus on them for a change.

For once the cops actually didn’t look that bad. They still let their guard down a little too quickly at times and lost quite a few rounds, but they tried. While you probably won’t believe how easy Bryan knocks them out and escapes, he’s the main character. The primary detective for the cops ended up doing a good job though. At times the film tried too hard to make him the “tough but laidback” character as he’ll sit down and enjoy a few bagels. He’s clearly still thinking about the case, but tries to get everyone to let their guards down. It was nice to have at least one cop who was fully competent since he helped to elevate everyone else.

Bryan’s daughter got a mild role here as well, but her whole subplot was basically filler. It wasn’t the best time for having a kid or even distracting Bryan with that revelation since he is a wanted man. I can’t say that I care for her friend at all since he vanishes whenever the villains appear and seems to be a little too interested in wine. The daughter also just annoyed me with how ungrateful she was for the bear. I get that it’s not the present she would have wanted, but you should really appreciate any present that you get or at least put a brave face on in the moment. It’s important to take these things in stride.

I can at least say that the pacing is pretty quick. The film goes by in a flash considering the actual time and that’s because the plot is interesting and the characters are rather familiar by now. I do think that Bryan’s friends are given way too much hype at times as they can pull guns on federal agents and just walk away calmly. Does nobody care that these retired pros are interfering with the law? It feels like they can get away with anything so it’s good that they’re heroes at the moment.

Overall, Taken 3 is mostly decent. Take away the animal scene and the random waterboarding and it would grab 2 stars back. Still, there’s nothing original about the film and it does end up as a very generic action movie. It never managed to carve out an identity for itself which is unfortunate. I suppose this was just too much for the movie. If you enjoyed the first two films and don’t mind seeing another rehash then this is the film for you. Keep in mind that nobody is really taken for about 90%n of the film unless you take the title more literally this time around. The first film is really the only one where the plot focused on someone being taken for the majority of the movie.

Overall 4/10