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Cover Critic
The Cover Critic Can Breathe In Space
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 14, 2012   |   Episode 80 (Show Archive)  

   
They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But since I've never heard that expression used against video games I figure that it's open season on the box art you see every day. In this episode we look at some of 2012's biggest games. Of course I'm talking about Blades of Time and Defenders of Ardania. And just for good measure, we've decided to look at Mass Effect 3, Unit 13 and yet another Mario Party game. Find out why the Cover Critic hates March.
Mass Effect 3
[ System: PS3/X360/PC | Company: BioWare | Final Rating: B ]
I wanted to love Mass Effect, I really did. I tried my hardest to get through the first game, but found the "guess where you have to go" game mechanics were more than I wanted to deal with on deadline. As a result, I never bothered with Mass Effect 2 and am completely oblivious to the problems people have with the ending of this final chapter in the trilogy. Thankfully that hole in my gaming knowledge isn't going to keep me from reviewing the cover of the biggest game released in 2012 (so far).

Apparently in the time between Mass Effect 1 and 3, Shepard gained the ability to breathe in space. This cover suggests that he's nothing more than a Major Tom figure, somebody who floats around space watching his home planet get blown up by the nastiest aliens in the solar system. I guess that explains the scowl. He has a gun, but what good is that going to do a guy who is lost in space? There are flaming lobsters speeding their way towards Earth, I doubt a holographic sword is going to do much to stop the invasion. We're doomed. On the other hand, perhaps we had it coming. Any planet that tries to suggest that Mass Effect 3 is "Better with Kinect Sensor" is deserving of what it gets. Even if that means we all have to die in a Lars von Trier-inspired flame ball of death and torture.

Unit 13
[ System: PS Vita | Company: Sony | Final Rating: A ]
Unit 13 is the type of game I can't stand. No, it has nothing to do with the fast-paced action and solid online multiplayer modes, all that works well on Sony's brand new handheld console. The problem I can't get over is the number 13. Am I completely oblivious and simply missed the first 12 chapters of this hand grenade of a game? Perhaps they were only released in France or called something else when it came out over here. Or maybe it's a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon kind of thing, where the storytellers start in the middle of a book series. Either way, I was immediately put off by the game's high sequel number.

But as much as I wanted to hate this Final Fantasy rip-off (because of the number, not the action found inside), I found myself transfixed on that hand grenade. If you look close enough you'll see that the explosive is actually made up of a bunch of other weapons. You'll see automatic rifles, bullets, handguns, tanks and more in that silhouette. I instantly fell in love with this design decision. And then I got depressed. It hit me that there's no way that any element of the game is better than this box art and that made me cry manly tears. They're probably saving all of their best stuff for Unit 14.

Blades of Time
[ System: Xbox 360 | Company: Konami | Final Rating: D+ ]
Last year, Konami tried to get the jump on everybody by airing a pre-produced video press release live on the internet. While a novel idea, the company's plans were thwarted by a dreadful line-up of games. Outside of a new Silent Hill sequel and HD collections, Konami had very little to show. It left us all wondering where Konami's real games are. Surely they were working on more than a Zone of the Enders compilations. It turns out there was a good reason Konami didn't want to show us any of their new games ... because they're all CRAP!

First it was Never Dead and now it's Blades of Time. It's as if they are pulling random cliches out of a hat in order to come up with their next big action success. Yes, the girl in this picture has blades. Too bad her skimpy outfit doesn't have a place to carry those glowing swords. She's sending me mixed signals. On one hand she looks like she's ready to cut my ass down to size. On the other hand, she's giving me a sexy lean and wearing barely any clothes. This looks like one of the video game scenes from Zack Snyder's dreadful Sucker Punch. Let's hope Blades of Time involves less rape.

Mario Party 9
[ System: Wii | Company: Nintendo | Final Rating: C- ]
Italians know how to party. I learned this the hard way while dating a Snooki impersonator. I won't go into details, but thank god I had that hair spray or I would never have made it out alive. Knowing what I know about Italian parties, it doesn't surprise me that Mario Party 9 is an assault on the eyes. It's bright and neon in the worst possible way, almost as if a Gummy Bear threw up and Nintendo decided to go with it. Forget the ESRB rating; this game should come with a warning about the cover art: Don't stare or you'll go blind!

This Mario Party sure does look like fun. It has Super Mario World Bowser, Birdo from Super Mario Bros. 2 and even some allusions to Galaxy. But just as I'm about to fall in love, I'm reminded that I don't have any friends and would never get any use out of this game. I would be that sad, pathetic loser sitting in the corner playing Mario Party 9 until I've unlocked everything. I don't want to be that guy. And just as I'm about to get up and give a patriotic speech, I realize that I stared at the box too long and have gone completely blind. It's a miracle that I'm able to type this review.

Defenders of Ardania
[ System: PC/PS3/X360 | Company: Paradox | Final Rating: D ]
Speaking of things that are hard to look at, let me introduce you to Defenders of Ardania! This is yet another high fantasy role-playing game for people who haven't gotten sick of elves, trolls, dwarfs and other little people. How can I tell that this is more generic high fantasy role-playing? Once I was able to focus my eyes on the box, I discovered all of the telltale signs. It has dragons swirling overhead, armored men with large swords, magic, fire and the Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings. The only thing missing from this cover is a big-breasted woman in bikini armor.

This cover is a mess. I'm sure there was a gorgeous piece of artwork here at one point, but somebody with no sense and the thinnest of PhotoShop filtering skills decided to "punch it up." Worse yet, the cover art makes very little sense. Why is the Eye of Sauron shooting at the puny foot soldiers and not the dragons? Can they not see the fire and destruction the dragons are doing to the towers? What possible harm is a dude with a sword going to do against a brick tower? Go after the real threat, those pesky dragons. Or better yet, find your way into a better game.
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