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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (449)

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Armada 3.5/5
Detroit: Become Human 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5
Horizon: Zero Dawn 4.5/5
Oxenfree 4/5
Murdered: Soul Suspect 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3/5
Celeste 4.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3/5
Just Cause 3 3.5/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5
The Incredible Adventur... 4/5
Rise of the Tomb Raider 4/5
Dead Rising 3 4/5
Layers of Fear 3.5/5
Prey 3/5
Zero-K 2/5
Tales from the Borderla... 4/5
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 4.5/5
Hammerwatch 3/5
AereA 1/5
Divinity: Original Sin 4.5/5
The Yawhg 4/5
Sword Coast Legends 3.5/5
Spelunky 2.5/5

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Armada   Sega Dreamcast 

Armadaone Bites the Dust - But is Mostly Enjoyable    3.5/5 stars

When we get desperate for local co-op, we get desperate for local co-op and dusting off a gem from 1999 might be the biggest stretch the MeltedJoystick crew has made yet. Heck, we had to fix the damn Sega Dreamcast (via some YouTube videos) before we could launch the game. But fix it we did and Armada was reborn anew. Despite being older than Millie Bobby Brown, Jacob Tremblay and Isabela Moner - Armada wears its age remarkably well and, warts and all, actually makes for a decent throwback co-op experience, if any of you nerds are into that kind of thing.

Presentation: For 1999, the game still looks decent. More impressive is the fact that every faction ship on Earth is fully voiced. Granted, they only say a few lines, but, surprisingly, the game does a decent job of giving each faction their own personalities and quirks, as it is. It's a long way from the fully-voiced, in depth drama we expect in AAA games today, but for when it was released, it sounds pretty good. 1999 was actually an important year as it gave us Silent Hill, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Final Fantasy VIII and Planescape: Torment, to name a few. Armada may be as popular but I think it holds up just as well as those games do.

Design-wise, the game doesn't exactly inspire that much of a "wow" factor. Ships and enemies are largely generic, as are the various plants you find (oh, the ice planet is white while the lava planet is red... fascinating!). Most of the game takes place in space which is black with stars and lots of ships flitting about - not exactly Rembrandt. It's just fine but nothing spectacular.

Story: Do you like reading? Sure you like reading - who the hell don't? If you want the story of Armada - track down the instruction manual online or something and knock yourself out. Okay - from what I gather the game takes place in the far future, where humanity has evolved (or at least broken off) into six distinct factions - some are alien, some are technological some are... still human - but they are scattered all over that place. But they come together to face the Armada, a bio-mechanical insect-like force that is threatening to wipe them all out. And that's it - go fly and shoot lots of enemies.

Gameplay: While it's probably not unique to Armada, I have to say the combination of traditional SHMUP (i.e. flying around shooting everything) and RPG mechanics (leveling up, equipping better items) is actually a really smart way of doing things. Granted, the RPG aspect isn't that deep at all - each level brings you a bit more power and health, and eventually makes your ship look bigger and better. The items, for the most part, are hit-or-miss - most seem more useless than useful, and you can only ever equip four at one time. If you manage to actually get an item to drop from enemies - congratulations - you just found the Armada Unicorn! I think we only ever got one item during our entire session.

The start of the game is always on Earth - futuristic Earth, of course, where the various faction hang out and you can fly around and talk to each ship for various flavor text and a guaranteed mission. An arrow will guide you to the place on the map - sometimes in space, sometimes a planet - where you have to kill a stronger enemy (usually surrounded by annoyingly strong minion ships). There are also a few "buy and deliver this item" missions as well - far easier, but you have to spend your own hard-earned money on said items (luckily they are cheap).

In space, you fly around ala Asteroids, with thrusters while the controller spins your ship in whatever direction you want to warp/shoot. You also have Power Pods (you can restore these at the home base by talking to specific character or get them from stronger enemies) that can be used as massive attacks or strong shields - three max. Each enemy you kill - that is, land the killing blow - gives you XP, while money must be scanned or picked up to collect. The game has a massive flaw in that the XP and money isn't shared but rather is based on individual combat - thus someone with a homing weapon that almost always gets the last shot in, gets way more XP and is overleveled by the end of the game.

Besides the main missions (of which there are 31) you can also fight in an endless series of escort missions that frequently pop up in space. This involves escorting a friendly ship to... wherever and being awarded a fair chunk of money and XP for your trouble. While multiplayer gave us the advantage with numbers, something tells me playing this on single player would require doing many, many, MANY of these missions in order to become strong enough to take on the more annoying bosses. You also have to save up a fair chunk of change to afford the better equipment (such as the one that ignore ramming damage) - and there is even an extra special set of items you can only get by having a high enough level - not that we ever saw such things. There is a lot of grinding going on here for sure, which means modern video game fans should LOVE it.

Replayability: While the different classes don't represent any huge changes across the board, it does give you some variety (six to be exact) when it comes to choosing a "character" ship, as it stands. The grind is always going to be there (especially alone) but if you like this type of gameplay, there you go.

Overall: For a game that came out before 2000 - it holds up surprisingly well.

Presentation: 3/5
Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replayability: 5/5
Overall (not an average): 3.5/5

 

 


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