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Brian Hoss

SecondVariety
SecondVariety
SecondVariety
SecondV

50 games reviewed
82.2 average score
80 median score
86.0% of games recommended

Brian Hoss's Reviews

Having gone from game development to criticism, Brian's reviews tend to focus on game design. Ultimately, the question is, "is it fun?"
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Nov 19, 2013

As a fresh alternative to meandering $60 games, 'Super Motherload' nails the kind of value proposition offered by good independent games. My towering expectations burned out during one of the many backtracks through the endgame area, and I can't help but wish for more than what the story delivered. But when the game is humming along, the experience is fun and unique among the offerings of Sony's new system. The game's charm, couch multiplayer, and Remote Play support make me treasure its presence on my PS4's hard drive.

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Dec 2, 2013

The new 'Killer Instinct' is mired in free-2-play trappings, a lack of content and unnecessary unlock system, is very rough around edges. And yet, the solid and at times pretty fighting twist on 'Street Fighter IV' delivered by the game, is almost a must-own for fighting fans on the new system, which means that long-time fans have no choice but to pony up for 'Ultra Version.' It is almost as though if the game wasn't such a solid fighter, it might been free outright, and the potential (eventuality even) for what has been delivered to sprout a dedicated community, makes buying in now without knowing exact expansion plans and costs a nebulous prospect. Even so, Capcom may find themselves extremely late to the party when they release a fighting game for the Xbox One.

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As an off-shoot title in a genre outside of the series' norms, 'Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance' succeeds, and its challenging core combat is a credit to Platinum Games. While I can't help but wish the game had a longer, better realized campaign, the plethora of assorted side content and value price speak louder than the game's flaws. As a new generation of consoles is upon us, the option of getting one of Platinum Games titles (a 'Metal Gear' no less) on the PC is much appreciated. When the action of 'Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance' is flowing, the game seems so good that I wish Konami would commission a retouched version for the new consoles.

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Jan 21, 2014

For every time I've thought, "if only this game had a tight control scheme and consistent physics and scoring," the devs at Roll7 must have been furthering their plot to make 'OlliOlli.' I would never have guessed that I could be addicted to a skateboarding title, and I have some serious concerns that the Vita might not have been designed to support such a replayable (if brutally challenging) game. It might not be much of a looker and many will confuse it at a glance for an iOS title, but the gameplay really trumps such superficial concerns. If anything, they should make a version for the PS3/PS4, and put one of the DualShocks to work.

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Telltale has got something with 'The Wolf Among Us,' a fresh property and stylized noir trappings that should grab a lot of fans despite the lack of zombies. Even so, this first episode feels like a prologue that just gets some characters set up before touching on a mystery. The issues with the 360 version make playing on the PC dreamy by comparison, though the extended time since the game's release may have allowed for some important fixes to all versions.

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The first episode was something of a dicey proposition, promising, but also forced to expend a lot of time on exposition with mysteries featuring characters we'd only just met. The long interval, combined with a weak follow-up, could have really quelled interest in the whole series. Instead, my anticipation has skyrocketed. This second episode, 'Smoke & Mirrors,' features a much improved tempo and flow, ratcheting up the story while dialing back less compelling elements. Dare we ask Telltale not to make this next wait so long while maintaining such a refined quality?

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When you break it down, the ingredients that make up 'Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc' can seem like a mishmash that shouldn't work. The whole of the experience, however, is a refreshing blast, and that's due to more than just the extraordinary setting. The PSP underpinnings make for some unfortunate limitations, but the game's ability to continual introduce story and gameplay twists keep the experience humming along. Though it's hard to keep capitalizing on something that worked so well the first time, it's not at all surprising that the game is a cult hit, and I'm hopeful that at some point in the future an existing or even all-new sequel makes its way here.

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Backed by the production values of 'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag,' while highlighting some filthy all-too-recent history puts 'Freedom Cry' well above what usually passes for single player DLC. That 'Freedom Cry' also provides a stellar way for those unfamiliar with the franchise to experience the best of its current product, means it's perfect for those who haven't played 'Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag' at all, which this review score reflects. Even so, Adewale's tale only scratches the surface of what could have been.

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Initially, 'The Lego Movie Videogame' frustrates with a poor handling of the movie's awkward story, odd assignment of character powers, and subpar vehicle sequences. By then end though, the player is fully able to be immersed in Lego set recreations, offshoots of the best humor, creations, and visuals of the movie, and that special mix of Lego gameplay, exploring collecting, and co-operating. Some aspects of the game touch on new directions for the series, but ultimately a nostalgic enthusiasm for Legos and a growing fondness for some of the movie's characters mean more for the game and its review score.

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For a very short time, I enjoyed 'Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes' as I would any new, exciting, and impressive 'Metal Gear' title. I couldn't help but be fascinated by some of the turns assigned to 'Peace Walker' characters, and that is the game's fundamental issue. The game comes across as premium priced fan service. The PS4 version is doubtlessly better than the PS3 version, but the jump in price from $20 to $30 makes the pretty, fun, and short game only suitable for hardcore fans. Cut the price in half and clean up some of the locked features, and the game's rating would be much higher even without adding more content.

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Apr 3, 2014

'Mercenary Kings' may look like a few hours of arcade side-scrolling, but it is in fact much deeper. Early frustrations give way to addiction, and this coming from a player who normally rolls their eyes when faced with each game's crafting system. That enemy that frustrates you with his bullet shield, as precious time ticks away, finds a new reality when you start shooting caustic bullets. Likewise, the boss that hides at the other end of level, is easily tracked with the right mod, and can even be captured with a timely shock bomb. For every problem that 'Mercenary Kings' throws at the player, there is a player-styled solution waiting to be found and executed.

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Detractors of the second episode are likely to get even more chirpy after playing 'A Crooked Mile,' but I completely welcome the well-focused story, investigative avenues, and the excising of the less compelling, enter a room and click things formula. Bigby and Fabletown have grown into vivid characters worth playing while the series seems to be subtly approaching a critical mass. While it would be luxurious if Telltale would spring for more music tracks and some achievement-worthy objectives, the hope has to be that the final two episodes of the series can maintain the high quality achieved in the second and third episodes.

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Apr 13, 2014

With only two months removed from the release of 'The Lego Movie Videogame,' 'Lego The Hobbit' arrives as its own alternate recent movie tie-in. The game seems ripe for all sorts of small quality adjustments, and the de facto relegation of so much of the side content to post story is a bizarre choice. Even with theses qualms, the game delivers a grand 'The Hobbit' experience, that looks good and sounds better on the PS4. In either solo or co-op play, the story and side content is sure to entertain families in equal turns.

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Apr 24, 2014

For much of my playthrough, I kept thinking that if I had to choose one of the 'Souls' titles to play or recommend, it would be 'Dark Souls.' And yet 'Dark Souls II' was clearly meant to entertain the veteran 'Souls' player with a depth beyond its predecessor. Though parts of the game feel like a poor rehash, everything that make the series thrilling, challenging, and enjoyable is here along with revamped online options that dare to tempt even the most solitary player. Hunting down items, NPCs, bosses, areas, shortcuts- I gorged myself on it all, and continued time on both the PS3 and PC has yet to satiate my desire for the game's particular kind of hurt. Detractors of the series (those that have actually played a title) can be comfortable opting out, but everyone else should see that death is only the beginning, the preparation necessary to live.

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Though these are not the first 'Star Wars Pinball' tables from Zen Studios, they may be the last. That's a shame as these tables feature some of the studio's best work and are recommend for both casual 'Star Wars' fans and those though that sometimes get the urge to play pinball. These tables play great on the Vita, as even the weaker entry 'Masters of the Force' has some fun design elements, and on the PS4, 'Star Wars Pinball: Heroes Within' reaches its zenith.

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If you've given the franchise a serious try in the past and hated it, the gobs of content in 'Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition' likely won't sway you, and the levels are even sadder looking on the PS4 than they were on the PS3. If you were to ever demo the game though, you'd likely get pulled in, suddenly wanting to chain a light strike into a charge attack into a Mosou attack in a Rage state so that you can Rampage while at Attack x 2 so as to demolish, say, Cao Cao's entire personal retinue of officers and soldiers. This is button-mashing with just enough depth to attempt a Zen state and possibly the deepest PS4 title to date. Suddenly, anticipation for that 'Legend of Zelda' 'Hyrule Warriors' game is through the roof.

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When announced, the idea of playing as the Sheriff in the prequel Fabletown wasn't exactly a homerun. Boiling the tapestry of characters and locales down to a single character's point of view was no sure success, but when playing 'In Sheep's Clothing' the payoff is apparent. Bigby, gruff and reformed, isn't the most righteous of characters, but stepping into his place and trying to redress all of the sick and twisted acts that have accumulated over four episodes, has meant becoming an integral part an engaging narrative, and brings to my mind the exploits of William Munny in 'Unforgiven.' As for the conclusion of 'In Sheep's Clothing,' it somehow makes the wait for the finale interminable and yet the cliffhanger seems like one worthy of great anticipation.

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Jul 6, 2014

As stated throughout the review, the visuals are extraordinarily homely. The DS to PC path and price will prohibit most from ever trying the game. The game's beginning, while an improvement on the 1990 version, is like to doom it for many that do try it. But beyond that, it's easy to sink hour after hour into the game, embracing its retouched and demanding challenge while celebrating one of the peaks of the early series. And while I found the PC version ugly but addictive, I can't imagine trying to play such a serious game, hour after hour, on my phone, which means the PC version no one would have asked for serves an important function.

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'Cry Wolf' does an excellent job of concluding and capping a powerful season. (I don't know if there will be a second, but I would like one.) It also managed to instill a much greater desire to replay the whole thing than I was expecting. Even after the last episode's thrilling almost rampage, this was the first time I felt the full weight of playing as Bigby, and I don't know that the character would be proud of the choices I made. That's a good thing for the game, and Telltale must be tremendously proud of what this initially questionable series has achieved.

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Sep 25, 2014

I used to have 'Forza 5' as must-own demo material, though I knew most would not be able to really enjoy the game. 'Forza Horizon 2' is so much more that; it's excellent demo material, it's accessible to play, exhilaratingly fast, but manages to avoid being repetitive. Seeing one of my friend's Drivatars cruising around the European countryside often feels like being issued a challenge, and the ensuing race manages to avoid the grind feeling that plagues most racing games. Get in an Ariel Atom, or an F40, or even a Ford Transit and try not to have fun racing from coast to coast, I dare you.

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