150th Review Special, Part 1: Rev on the Red Line

Well, I’ve done it now. I’ve reached 150 game reviews: one for every Pokémon in the original two games! When I reached 100 game reviews, I celebrated by ranking them all from worst to best, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do here. All of this time, I’ve been ranking the games between that milestone and this one, leaving me with 51 places. Why 51? It’s because I revised my BioShock: Infinite review. With fewer entries overall, I’m going to split this post into four segments. The games with failing grades go first. After that, the games with middling grades will be discussed. In part three, I’ll talk about the games that received either a 7/10 or an 8/10. Finally, the concluding part will have me talk about every 9/10 I’ve awarded so far. I’ve finished doing that, I’ll reveal the full list, so you can see how they fare against the original 100 games I’ve discussed. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

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The members of Free Radical Design proved that they were the talent behind the famous Nintendo 64 adaptation of Goldeneye when they released TimeSplitters 2 in 2002. Considered a major improvement over the original, it’s often considered one of the greatest games of the sixth console generation. As it drew to a close, Sony, the company that dominated the generation with its PlayStation 2 console, hit a stumbling block upon launching the PlayStation 3. Though lauded as a versatile piece of hardware with the ability to play Blu-Ray discs, there was one major aspect holding it back: it had very few games to speak of upon launch. Indeed, the best games available for it in 2006 could also be played on the PC or the Xbox 360, making it difficult to justify paying $599 USD for it.

Nonetheless, Free Radical Design decided to take advantage of the new hardware offered by both Sony and Microsoft to demonstrate their continued relevance in this new generation. Their new project, Haze, was unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) of 2006. Notably, they elected not to purchase a game engine, instead choosing to create their own. The idea behind this decision was to have more freedom when implementing gameplay features. Haze was billed as a third-person shooter, but halfway through development, the game’s publisher, Ubisoft requested for it to be changed. They wanted Haze to be a first-person shooter to compete with other bestselling action titles such as Call of Duty and Halo.

Haze was slated to be released in the summer of 2007 whereupon it would see a simultaneous release on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and the PC. The release date was then quickly pushed back to that year’s winter. After much speculation, it was eventually announced at Sony’s 2007 E3 press conference that Haze would be a PlayStation 3 exclusive. As even one year later, the console had a notable lack of exclusives, a game made by the people behind Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, and TimeSpitters 2 seemed like the perfect solution to Sony’s conundrum.

The game garnered a lot of attention from the press prior to its release. In the wake of the dual release of Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, some of the most anticipated games in the medium’s history, Free Radical Design had their work cut out for them. In October of 2007, Ubisoft announced that the nu metal band Korn had written and recorded a song inspired by the upcoming game also entitled “Haze”. Some outlets went as far as calling it a “Halo killer”. Sadly, the final product didn’t come close to making a dent in Bungie’s venerable franchise. Indeed, the only thing the game killed was Free Radical Design themselves, as its poor performance received ensured the company’s demise. In a spectacularly ill-advised move, Free Radical Design employees Rob Yescombe and David Doak boasted that making a game like Halo was “child’s play” and their other projects were to use the Haze engine. Once Haze failed, the bottom fell out, and the studio shut down in December of 2008. How does the final game Free Radical Design developed fare in hindsight?

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