Defiance Review

8 / 10 Banzai!s

The Game:

From Trion World, the recently founded American developer which seems to specialize in MMOs, brings us Defiance, a sci-fi third-person shooter MMORPG for the PlayStation 3, as well as the Xbox 360 and PC. But this is more than just a game – it’s also a TV show!

Defiance takes place in a future San Fransisco Bay Area, which has been both ravaged by war and terraformed by aliens. In back-story, a group of different alien races – collectively called Votans – came to Earth looking for a new home and began changing the environment to suit their tastes, unaware that the planet was populated with people. After having seen so many alien-invasion films, the humans took the Votan’s terraforming as a threat, and started a war. This went on for a number of years, until both humans and Votans decided to put their differences aside and give peace a chance.

Players have limited customization, though outfits can either be earned or purchased later in the game. Rather than classes, you select yourself one of four special abilities to begin with, but gain the others as your character levels-up. Weapons and vehicles also level-up as you continue to use them.

Like most MMOs, the map of the San Francisco Bay Area is littered with quests to fulfill, time trials and races, merchants, and the occasional “Arkfall” in which pieces of an alien ship have fallen to Earth, allowing for a vast collection of XP and new weapons while fighting off creatures along side the gathered online players. In addition, both co-op campaigns and competitive arenas are available for your enjoyment.

What makes Defiance unique is that it’s fueled by a TV show by the same name. The program, airing originally on the Syfy channel, takes place in St. Louis during the same time as the game, and the two cross over. Characters in the show may leave St. Louis and wind up in San Francisco in the game, becoming a participant in a quest. Meanwhile, the top players will get to have their name mentioned as a real character in next season’s show.


What I Liked:

I have to admit, what first attracted me to the game was how it crossed-over with an ongoing TV show. Yes, it’s a gimmick. And yes, it’s pretty cool that they thought of it. There’s titles like Dragon Age and The Elder Scrolls which contain a lot of backstory that can add an extra layer of depth and interest to the game’s plot – that is, if you feel like picking the books off the shelf and reading them off your screen. But Defiance took that a step further, and instead just made a whole new sci-fi program. You get a better feel for the setting, the different alien races, the politics happening behind the curtain, just by sitting back and watching the show as it better orients you in the setting of the game. And if that’s not cool enough, the two stories – game and TV show – cross paths with one another.

Defiance ReviewI’ll give an example. I watched one episode in which a woman tried to destroy a town by using pheromones to attract alien-like creatures. She was caught, her plan was foiled, but she escaped prison by leaving St. Louis. The next day, I loaded up the game and there she was in San Francisco, as a character in a quest. Now, I didn’t need to see the show in order to understand why she was there, but knowing her backstory simply made the quest all that more interesting. In a nutshell, the game and TV show fuel each other.

But like Tetris, it’s hard to be specific about what I like about this game, other than it’s addicting. It’s fun to run around and shoot stuff – which is the majority of the game. You can team up with online players, or simply do things on your own. The Arkfalls, which are both randomly timed and randomly placed on your map, is a good spot to recruit people into your group and share in the XP. Or join a Shadow War – another random event – in which you help your team defeat enemy players.

Everything you do in the game somehow affects the improvement of your character. From driving around, to shooting mutants and raiders with different weapons, to killing certain types of enemies, to fulfilling your goals. The weapons and vehicles themselves level-up as well, which you can modify and enhance. There’s certainly a lot to do in this game, and while so far I’ve put in a good +60 hours, I’m still not bored. Unlike, ahem, DC Universe Online.

The graphics are great for an MMORPG, and again – unlike DC Universe Online – the setting is richly colored with strange terraformed landscapes, ravaged cities, farmlands, lakes, and military installations – and all with warp-points on your map. In many ways, it feels a lot like playing an online version of Oblivion.


What I Didn’t Like:

The bugs.

Granted, it must be hard to keep things running smoothly when you’ve got hundreds of players all on one map. And for the most part, while I’m on my own, everything runs honkey-dory. But once you’re in the vicinity of other players, suddenly the map or your inventory takes a while to upload – and that’s a problem, considering there’s no pause button on an online game. Imagine both your weapons are out of ammo, so you hit start to bring up your inventory and change weapons, but you have to wait almost 20 seconds, and meanwhile you’re getting shot. Yikes!

Defiance ReviewThese bugs get worse as your screen fills with other online players. During an Arkfall, you might have about 20 or 30 people running around shooting enemies. Suddenly you can’t change your weapons. Holding the square button over an ammunition depo doesn’t work, and then there’s a horrible screeching coming through your speakers which never stops until the Arkfall is destroyed and all the action subsides.

As far as freezes, I’ve only had this happen once. Granted, I’ve played worse. Fallout: New Vegas and Terminator: Salvation, to name a few. And those weren’t Massive Multiplayers. So yes, I’ll give Defiance some leeway with its bugs. But running around with an empty pistol because you can’t change your weapons does tend to take the fun out of an Arkfall event.



Defiance is a fun online action-shooter with plenty to do and lots to improve your character on. It’s also a nice little pick-up-and-play game with quick loading time, allowing you to shoot a couple bad guys or complete a mini-quest before rushing off to work or school. Plus there’s a TV show to fuel the story of the game, with fun cross-overs. There’s hundreds of missions waiting to be completed, creatures and cyborgs waiting to be blown away, and online players to give you a hand. Yes, there are some bugs – but hopefully these will be patched in the near future.

As far as trophies go, with the exception of some challenging PvP-related trophies, the platinum is totally doable – just very time consuming.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll become the top player and wind-up appearing in Season Two or Three of the Defiance TV show.


written by Damon Finos

Terminator Salvation Review

6/10 Banzai!s

The Game:

Based on the film of the same name, Terminator: Salvation was released just two days before the movie, on May 19th 2009 internationally. A third-person action shooter, the game takes place shortly before the events of the film. In 2016 Los Angeles, John Connor, along with the characters Angie Salter and Blair Williams, head off towards Skynet in hopes of doing the impossible – rescuing survivors from a helicopter crash. On their way, they meet a demolitions expert named Barnes in a hidden survivalists camp in the subway tunnels. Together, they must battle a set number of robots – all having been previewed in the film – cause some damage to Skynet, while restoring Connor’s faith in the future of humanity.

What makes this game rather famous, is that Terminator: Salvation is the last title ever to be developed by Grin. After issues with a game in development titled Fortress, which was to be designed for SquareEnix, the project was dropped – leaving the Swedish company Grin financially in trouble. They filed for bankruptcy on August 12th 2009.


What I Liked:

Rarely do I play a game that has been adapted from a film, and thought it was good. Most of the time, the video games try to be as close to the movie as possible – thereby altering the style of play in order to suit the film’s storyline. The Harry Potter games come to mind, where it feels more like playing a set of mini-games. Most often than not, the game doesn’t add any incite into the film’s story or characters. Essentially, you’re just playing the movie.

Terminator Salvation Review


The game Terminator: Salvation, however, I felt didn’t follow that path. Rather, if the movie didn’t exist, the game could still stand on its own. From beginning to end, it’s a third-person shooter, with a few moments of turret-gun action.

In many ways, it’s a duck-and-cover game, much in the style of Gears of War on the Xbox 360. What I found interesting, is that a bit of strategy was involved. The action sequences take place in a certain setting with options of cover; however, certain enemies can only be hit from behind, while others must be attacked from the front. In each sequence, you must decide which position to hold, and for how long before switching to another position – like a watered-down version of chess. It’s not a question of finding a “safe” zone, or getting closer to the enemy – it’s all about position and timing, on top of having good aim. I found this style of gameplay a bit original, and give Grin kudos for using it in a film-adapted game.

Moon Bloodgood, who played as Lt. Blair Williams in the film, and Common, who played as Barnes, both lend their voices as their respected characters in the game. That was nice, I thought. Too bad Christian Bale wasn’t interested. In fact, he wouldn’t even allow his “likeness” to be used, which is why Connor’s face in the game doesn’t really resemble Christian Bale. Guess he was still upset after his tirade with the crew member.


What I Didn’t Like:

One thing that always drives me nuts about a game, is bugs. Though not as many as Fallout: New Vegas, there were enough problems with this game that I wonder just how much attention was given to the QA team. There were a few times when the robots would get stuck in the walls, unable to be attacked, and unable to proceed walkthrough the game without destroying it – leaving me to reset the game and play again from the last checkpoint. Once, I had to replay the same scene three times – and guarded that wall! – to reach the next stage.

There were other issues with the game which, I imagine, is why most online magazines game Terminator: Salvation such low scores. These issues, I believe, were either the result of being rushed to finish the product before the release date of the film, or their financial difficulties. After all, Grin has made some pretty kick-ass games in the past, such as Bionic Commando: Rearmed. It’s not like they lacked talent.

Terminator Salvation Review

The main issue is that Terminator: Salvation just doesn’t feel completed. When you first start up the game, you see a pretty nifty cutscene, in which John Connor is running, shooting, blowing stuff up, and hiding from the machines. Then the game starts, and all that glorious graphics goes out the window. Every cutscene after that is merely in-game renders, which means that rather than creating a movie-like scene, the characters you’ve been playing are suddenly walking around and moving on their own. Some explosions look like bits of pixels, which means they probably weren’t rendered properly. And when the characters are speaking, it appears their mouths are just opening and closing – like watching a dubbed kung-fu film. Again, signs that the game just hadn’t been finished.



So why did I give this game 6 our of 10 banzai!s when it’s not even completed, and other online critics gave it fours and fives?

Well, I never found the game boring. Though short, it was fun to play. I enjoyed shooting at robots, and I liked the trial-and-error of setting myself up in certain positions to wipe out the enemy. And to be honest, I found a strange sort of humour in the poor graphics and terrible voice dubbing – the same kind of enjoyment I get when watching a cheezy B-movie horror. It’s so bad that it’s funny.

I don’t recommend rushing out to the nearest store and paying full price. But if you happen to see it in a cheap bin for ten bucks or so, it may be worth checking out. If anything, it’s a nice easy Platinum to add to your collection. All trophies are story-based, so simply load up Hard mode and play to the end, then – blam – platinum! More time consuming and frustrating than Hannah Montana: The Movie, but certainly less embarrassing on your list.

It’s a shame that Grin didn’t have the time – or money – to finish this title properly. Even more tragic is that, of all the games in their library, the company had to go out with the half-completed Terminator: Salvation. Like if James Cameron’s final movie ended up being Leprechaun 7, and not even starring Warwick Davis.

Rest in peace, Grin.


written by Damon Finos

Fallout New Vegas Trophy Guide

Fallout New Vegas Trophy Guide. Difficulty: ***  An action RPG set in a post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. More time-consuming than difficult, which can be completed in one playthrough with a few strategic saves made.

Game Name Difficulty Trophies Developer Country Bronze Silver Gold Online DLC
Fallout: New Vegas *** 51 Obsidian Entertainment U.S. 36 13 1 0 25

Fallout New Vegas Trophy Guide

Fallout: New Vegas is a first-person action-RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world. Players can roam freely across the land, working towards a main quest as well as several side quests, while leveling-up their character and earning bonuses. While not a direct sequel to Fallout 3, the game takes place in the same universe.

The player controls a courier, transporting a "Platinum Chip" across the Mojave desert to New Vegas, when the character is shot and left for dead by a man named Benny. The player-character awakens in a town, now free to seek revenge against Benny, learn the secret behind the Platinum Chip, and choose sides in a coming war for the domination of the Hoover Dam.

Fallout: New Vegas was both a commercial and critical success, with an average score of 87%, praised for its compelling story and interesting characters, but criticized for technical issues.

For more information, check out our Fallout: New Vegas Review.

As far as difficulty goes, Fallout: New Vegas is no different than Fallout 3 or the Elder Scrolls titles. If you've played any of them, then you'll know that this game is more time-consuming than challenging.

Most trophies are either story-related, or dealing a certain amount of damage with certain weapons. Other challenges include playing/winning casino games (which are easy enough by saving and reloading) and a few minor collectibles. Also, the game contains 4 possible endings, but you can made a save point which you can then continuously return to and switch story paths.

Overall, will take about 60-80 hours of your time, but not requiring much in the way of skills.

Since this game has no trophy for difficulty mode, you can go ahead and select Very Easy. However, you must turn on Hardcore mode for the Hardcore trophy. This has no effect on damage, but you will need to eat, sleep, and drink water to survive, as well as a few other "realistic" disadvantages which make the game more challenging.

Also, SAVE OFTEN! This game is very glitchy, and can freeze on you often.

For the most part, you simply need to play through the main quest. Most of the damage-related trophies, as well as location discoveries, will come to you over time. Also, check out the trophy guides in our Links page for side-quest trophies, tips for the casino game trophies, and locations of snowglobes.

As you advance towards the end, make sure you create a save which you can resort back to after completing one of the ending paths. This will prevent you from having to restart the entire game when working towards one of the other three endings.

This is a useful wiki guide Walkthrough:

And IGN has a great Walkthrough, here:

And Mahalo has a useful Walkthrough, with videos:

Another useful Walkthrough, created by Jonathan Svarzbein:

Here's a great Trophy Guide, by Lord Maim:

And another detailed Trophy Guide, this one created by DaveyHasselhoff:

Yet another great Trophy Guide, created by PS3T Bot:

Travis McCrory-Gardner posted a useful Trophy Guide, here:

A simpler, but still useful Trophy Guide, by Jeff Belote:

This is a Map of the area:

Finally, here's a basic Trophy List:

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Review

10/10 Banzai!s

The Game:

Skyrim continues the Elder Scrolls series with their latest open-world, action RPG title released almost worldwide in November and December in 2011. The game was highly anticipated, an instant hit upon release, and is famed for being the very first non-Japanese game to receive a perfect 40/40 by Famitsu magazine. Wow.

The style of gameplay hasn’t changed much from Oblivion (the only other Elder Scrolls game I’ve played) with the player’s choice of first or third-person view, swinging your sword or blasting fireballs at your targets while exploring the land of Skyrim and picking-up quests along the way. There are a few alterations, which I’ll discuss in the “What I Liked” portion of this review (and that’s a good sign, right?)

Reminiscent of the previous installment, your character begins as a prisoner, tied and bound, being carried to a small town to await the execution for a crime you – the player – aren’t aware of. Just as your head’s about to be disconnected from your body with the assistance of a giant ax, a dragon swoops down and belches fire over everything. You manage to escape, and follow a new comrade to safety.

From there, you’re free to do as you please.

The main quest centres around the dragons that have mysteriously returned to Skyrim – and the strange connection your character has with them. Each time you slay one of these beasts, a whirlwind of power explodes around you, and the dragon’s soul is absorbed. What’s up with that? Well, you have many hours of game-playing to figure it out.

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Review

Aside from the main quest, you’ve also got the usual guilds to have fun with – the Thieves Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, and the Mage’s Guild. There’s also the Champions, who are an elite group of, well, champions who reside in the city of Whiterun. And of course, what fantasy world would be complete without a civil war? You have the choice of siding with the Stormcloaks for the Imperial Army, vanquishing the opposite group of which you’ve chosen, and either putting a new king on the throne or keeping the old one.

There’s a lot to do, here. The main quest, side quests, mini side quests, and super mini side quests, as well as farming to improve your skills, exploring the vast number of caves and dungeons, and searching for Words of Power to add to your arsenal for kicking-butt. And if you simply feel like reading a book, Skyrim has plenty of those, too.


What I Liked:

It’s hard to be specific here, since I gave the game a perfect 10. Bethesda Game Studios has a great system of free-play as an action RPG, allowing you to select either a post-apocalyptic genre (Fallout) or high fantasy (Elder Scrolls). They put an incredible amount of detail into their games, which are loaded with backstory and even books which you can pick off the shelves and read. It’s a system that works, and as long as they don’t screw it up, I see no reason to award such games with high ratings. In the case of Skyrim, they didn’t screw it up.

The level-up system has changed to a simpler, but better system. As in Oblivion, you don’t gain experience points in the normal sense, but from using your skills. If you’re constantly being attacked while wearing light armor, then your light armor skill levels up. If you’re always flinging arrows at your targets, then your archery skills levels up. Once enough of these skills have increased, then your overall level is ready to rise. There, you have the option of improving your Magica, Health, or Stamina. Afterwards, you can add a “park” to one of your skills, much in the style of Fallout 3. Personally, I prefer this sytem more than that of Oblivion.

They’ve also tossed out the whole repairing-your-armor-and-weapons thing, as Bethesda felt this only slowed down the gameplay – which I agree. In Skyrim, if you pick up a sword or piece of armor, its quality never degrades through constant use. Maybe it’s unrealistic, but there’s plenty of micro-managing throughout the game that you don’t need to worry about the condition of your weapons. That’s a big plus.

The graphics’ quality is a big improvement from Oblivion. Rivers and waterfalls seem alive, rather than flat digital surfaces that have been rendered to appear as though moving. Trees and rocks appear better rendered, wind blows snow about, and the sky lights up at twilight, revealing the two majestic moons in the sky. It may not be Final Fantasy XIII quality, but it’s probably, thus far, better than any Bethesda game.


What I Didn’t Like:

Now, I’ve given this game a perfect score of 10 Banzai!s. So while there are still a few complaints here, consider this merely nitpicking. Afterall, no game out there is perfect – regardless of the rating. To me, a perfect 10 means it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played. And Skyrim is one of the best games I’ve ever played. It’s not perfect, but I don’t believe in perfection. To me, it just doesn’t exist. So with that in mind, on with the nitpicking!

Elder Scrolls V Skyrim Review

First, let’s talk about the bugs – and yes, there are bugs. What would a Bethesda game be without game freezes? But to be fair, playing this on the PlayStation 3, I didn’t experience too many problems. I logged in well over 100 hours into the game, playing all its quests and side-quests from start to finish. In those 100 hours, the game froze on me 6 times. That’s not too bad, especially compared with, say, Fallout: New Vegas.

The world of Skyrim is much smaller than Cyrodiil, and perhaps to make up for it, Bethesda threw in a bunch of mountains to add some struggle to your destination. And boy, do I hate mountains – even more than broccoli! Either you end up having to run around the damn thing looking for a path, or you attempt climbing by continuously hitting the jump button while wiggling the movement controls left and right. Less mountains and more land would have been nice.

Also, I found the map more difficult to navigate than in Oblivion. Everything’s basically black and white, but three-dimensional. The arrow which points in your destination is white, which basically means it’s hard to see. And if it’s hiding below the faded legend at the bottom of the screen, you can barely see it at all. It’s a simple thing, but coloring the arrow in blue, red, or tickled pink would have vastly improved the map.



If you’re a fan of either the previous Elder Scrolls games, or even the Fallout series, then you won’t want to miss Skyrim. The story is just as good as Oblivion, with fun and interesting side-quests and Guilds to work through (I personally recommend the Dark Brotherhood – great story!). There’s plenty to do in this game, as much micro-managing as you like, and will provide hours and hours of gameplay, making you feel you’ve gotten your money’s worth.

It may not be perfect, but 10 Banzai!s means it’s one of the best titles I’ve played thus far.

written by Damon Finos

Fallout New Vegas Review

7 / 10 Banzai!s

The Game:

Developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Bethesda Software, Fallout: New Vegas was released in North America and Australia in October of 2010. A first-person action RPG, it continues the Fallout series in its post-apocalyptic world, this one set in and around Las Vegas, Nevada.

Like other Fallout games, players can customize their character, find places to live where they can store their gear, battle robots and super mutants, hack computers, pick locks, and use V.A.T.S. to target their enemies. Fallout: New Vegas includes a Hardcore Mode, which requires the players to eat, drink and sleep to ward off starvation, thirst and exhaustion, among other new challenges.

Unlike other Fallout games, the player character is not a Vault-dweller. Rather, you are a courier who has been shot and left for dead by a man named Benny (voiced by Friends Mathew Perry). After being rescued by a robot named Victor and taken to a nearby town to be healed, your quest is to search out Benny and take back the casino chip he’s stolen from you. Along the way, you’ll eventually be forced to either make an alliance with one of three factions: the New California Republic, a military force posing as what remains of the American government; Caesar’s Legion, slavers who follow the customs of the Roman Empire; or Mr. House, a mysterious controller of the Vegas strip. Or, you can discard all three options, and attempt to rule Hoover Dam’s power all to yourself. The choice is yours, thereby creating four possible endings.


What I Liked:

Having been released so shortly after Fallout 3 (the last DLC – Operation: Anchorage – was just released on the PSN only 8 months earlier) the developers decided to add some changes and twists to the game, which I applaud them for trying something new and keeping the series fresh. Besides the Hardcore Mode – which was a new, yet challenging way to add realism to the game – the three factions narrow the gameplay to specific choices which must be made during the second half of the game, creating more reason to load back after and completing the story to try a new path. None of the four possible choices are purely selfless, with endings somewhere in the grey area, rather than a good or evil decision.

Unlike other areas left in ruin after the war, the Vegas Strip is powered by the Hoover Dam, filling the setting with bright lights and attractice colours as you play roulette, black jack, slot machines, or watch some of their entertaining shows – as entertaining as they’ll get in a video game, anyway. Again, the developers were trying to keep things new and fresh from their previous game, and the changes in setting added to that freshness.

The characters are interesting and colourful. You’ve got Victor, the robot with a friendly, Roy Rogers like voice who is either following you for protection or spying on your actions. The King, who started a cult-like group in worship of Elvis Presely. And Mr. House himself, a mysterious behind-the-sceenes fella who may or may not even be human. And like the previous Fallout 3, all the quests and side-quests are filled with interesting twists and turns. The story is never linear nor boring in Fallout: New Vegas.


What I Didn’t Like:

The bugs.

This game had so many problems that, if not for the bugs, I probably would have awarded an 8.5 or 9 Banzai!s out of 10. The game froze, on average, at least once every hour – sometimes even just shutting down the PlayStation 3 completely, and restarting the whole system all on its own. The DLC for Fallout 3 was criticized for freezing at times, but I found Fallout: New Vegas to be far worse, forcing me to save the game every 10 minutes for fear that it would crash on me at any moment. This game was NOT ready to be released on the shelves – but for whatever reason, Bethesda did it anyway.

Fallout: New Vegas also lacked the feeling of an “open world” in comparison to previous Fallout games. Unlike Fallout 3, where you were free to roam from one end of the map to the other and explore new areas, New Vegas was filled with mountains, trenches and large bodies of water which restricted your movement, almost as though setting you on pre-determined paths.



Fallout: New Vegas is a fun game for fans of the post-apocalyptic series – provided that you have the patience to get past the constant freezes and crashes and not toss the game out the window in frustration. It offers fresh new settings in a different way of storytelling, enough so you don’t feel you’re simply playing one of Fallout 3‘s DLCs. Though not as grand as its predecessor, and despite containing far, far more bugs than any game I’ve ever played (including Terminator: Salvation) it’s still worth checking out. Those new to the series, may want to pick up Fallout 3, first.


written by Damon Finos