Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kid Icarus: Uprising Review

Gameplay - (9/10): The gameplay of Uprising all lies on the foundation of the game's weapons. There are 9 different types of weapons (all of which have unique gameplay styles, some vastly different then others), with around a dozen individual weapons of each type, and each individual weapon has its own unique qualities, including special attacks, AND on top of all that, every weapon you get (even those of the same name) has unique passive abilities such as increased health, defense, and poison attributes. AND, on top of ALL THAT, the player has the option of combining their weapons in order to create more powerful weapons that combine the passive abilities of the weapons their combining. All of this combines to create a very customizable and player-unique gameplay experience.

Going off of the weapons, the levels provide a great playground to play with the weapons you earn/create. The ground levels provide a linear, but well-designed 3D-action experience. The ground controls have a pretty decent learning curve, and will probably take a few hours to get the hang of, but once the player understand the  controls, they feel great and become second nature. The flying levels are a bit disappointing because they have much less diversity than the ground levels; even so, they're still fun. The only glaring flaw in the flying stages is a lack of a easy-to-use quick-dodge maneuver; something that should have been one of the first control methods added in the game. Both types of levels are made even more unique by the weapons the player chooses to use; so the play experience can be that of a 3D-action shooter, or  an intense 3D-action weapon-based game; it's this type of diversity that makes replaying levels really fun. The only downside is that the game plays much how you would think a 3D-action shooter would play; so its nothing vastly unique, but its no less satisfying.

A unique element of Uprising is it's Heart Cauldron system, which allows the player to adjust the difficulty of the game. This is a very helpful system, for Uprising can be quite difficult. For the most part, this difficulty isn't a problem most of the time, but in the tougher flying sections and more difficult boss fights, the sheer amount of damage Pit takes is reminiscent of tougher NES games. The difficulty can be lowered thanks to the cauldron system, but taking on higher difficulties can be frustrating.

Overall, the gameplay isn't perfect, but the flaws are rarely frustrating except for when just starting the game out and when taking on higher difficulties.

Graphics - (10/10): Uprising is one of the best looking videogames on the market today, console or handheld. This is thanks to the perfect transition of concept art to game graphics and incredible execution there-of in terms of both art and tech. The incredible art team that has accompanied Sakurai on all of his games returns to provide their absolute best work yet, and the tech team has allowed the player to experience the incredible art first-hand. Pit flies into swirling tornadoes, fights massive monsters, and touches the stars in space. The ground sections aren't as impressive as the incredible flying sections, but they're still nothing to snuff at, especially during boss fights or the more impressive level designs. Uprising represents an incredible level of graphical execution; to the point where it's as if the developers didn't have to hold anything back; from the cinematic to incredible scale, Uprising is a sight to behold.

Music/Sound - (10/10): Uprising's soundtrack is an incredible piece of work from 5 legendary composers, including Motoi Sakurabai and Yuzo Koshiro. The end result is a cinematic soundtrack that may not get stuck in your head, but will move your emotions when playing the game. The overall theme of the soundtrack is battle, and as such, the soundtrack is mostly high-energy battle themes; all of them superbly orchestrated and incredibly executed. The execution of the soundtrack is impressive in that it works right alongside the graphics. For example, as Pit flies up the side of a cliff-face the music is fast and intense, but when he reaches the top, the music suddenly calms down to a gentle violin as the player takes in the sight of an enormous moon over-looking a battlefield. The game is full of moments like this, and it really goes to creating a beautiful fusion of graphics and music. Also, the voice acting is excellent, which is great considering the game is full of it.

Story - (7/10): The story of Uprising is a mixed bag, or, rather, its execution is. Uprising has dialogue occurring constantly throughout the gameplay. This execution allows all character and story development to occur during gameplay, thus making there to be no need for traditional cutscenes. The end result is a unique and effective way to portray the story. Its this story execution that isn't the problem, but the dialogue itself. The story of Uprising is full of great characters, epic scenarios, and powerful themes. The story is one of a war between the gods and the humans caught in between, and its a very interesting story to go through. However, there is one x-factor: the comedy. Almost everything that comes out of a characters mouth in the game is a joke. At first, this isn't a huge problem, because the game comes off as a comedy, and the jokes are pretty funny, but when the heavy themes start to come into play, the jokes just feel forced and unneccessary. The comedy never ruins the story, because its not hard to tell when the characters are serious, even when they're joking, but it all comes across as a mediocre execution of a balance between comedy and drama. This is disappointing considering Nintendo has perfected the balance of comedy and drama with their Paper Mario series.

There is one more problem with Uprising's story execution: it goes by WAY too fast. Despite being a pretty lengthy game, characters come and go almost instantly, conflicts are settled very quickly, and incredible vistas are played through very quickly. It's not that recycling areas and bosses would have been better for the game, but longer missions and getting more dialogue from characters other than Pit and Palutena. In the end, despite having a large cast of characters and incredible vistas and scenarios, only a handful of characters and scenarios are truly memorable due to many just being sped over.

Overall, the story is pretty impressive for its genre, mainly due to the heavy themes it tackles and how it executes it with the setting of a world of gods and humans. However, poor dialogue and pacing execution keeps the story from being a timeless one.

Replay Value - (10/10): Dozens upon dozens of weapons, ability to create an endless amount of unique weapons, 300 different and challenging challenges to complete, a superb online multiplayer, and over two dozen unique stages makes for a game brimming with content. It'll be a long time before you run out of things to do.

Satisfaction - (8.5/10): Uprising is a very, very impressive game. The massive amount of content, the great gameplay, and incredible graphics and sound make for an experience that has a really powerful first strike. However, over time, Uprising's blows become weaker and weaker; a reaction from the game's quick pace and so-so dialogue execution, and while these flaws are things that comes with the territory as a 3D-action/Shooter, it still feels like Uprising could have been something grander.


The score I should give it - (9.5/10): When looking at Uprising from a purely professional perspective, it's nearly flawless. The gameplay has no major flaws, only small annoyances. The graphics and music are perhaps the best in gaming today. And the replay value is through the roof. The only "flaw" is the so-so execution of the story; however, in a 3D-action shooter, a great story is not exactly what one would expect; however, that doesn't mean the game can't have one, and Uprising's story, despite its comedic style, is still better than those found in other modern 3D-action games. Overall, the game really just speaks for itself.

The score I want to give it - (8.5/10): Uprising delivers the type of gaming experience that we have come to expect from Sakurai: a content-packed, simple-to-control, and beautiful experience. With Uprising, Nintendo has truly set the bar on how amazing a game can look and sound; the graphics and music really are the game's most impressive qualities. The other factors are no slouches either, but they are not as impressive. I truly wish the story execution was better; if it was, Uprising would probably have a more lasting impact. Regardless, the sheer amount of content the game has is incredible and a true testament to Sora's talent as a developer, and Uprising deserves to be recognized as one of the best games of recent times; however, I feel that the only reason Uprising stands out so much is because of the sheer lack of high quality titles coming out in recent years.

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